Fans of ESPN's Chris Berman know him as the all-sports network's colorful anchorman and as the preening play-by- play announcer on the annual "Bud Bowl" commercials. Now, Berman has joined the ranks of book authors with the publication of "Chris Names," a compilation of his funny and outrageous sports nicknames. A portion of the proceeds from the book benefit the "V Foundation for Cancer Research," established in memory of Berman's late colleague Jim Valvano. Berman spoke recently with Sun staff writer Mark Hyman.
Q: Was there a "first" nickname, and who was on the receiving end?
A: Either Frank Tanana "Daiquiri" or John Mayberry "RFD," only because both go back to Brown [University], where I was at school. Both found their way onto the air in the summer of 1980, at about 3 o'clock in the morning.
Q: Do players ever get upset with you for dreaming up nicknames they don't like or find insulting for some reason?
A: Not really, because none is derogatory. There are no Mike "Dim" Witt(s). Nothing like that. Not even one or two out of 800. At an All-Star Game, Kevin "Bigmouth" Bass approached me and, with a big smile, said the nickname made him sound like a big complainer. So, we changed it, to "Smallmouth" Bass.
Q: With labor problems so much in the news, are you coming up with nicknames for the negotiators, starting with players union leader Donald Fehr?
A: How about, Don "The only thing to Fehr is Don himself" Fehr?
Q: And owners negotiator Dick Ravitch?
A: Ravitch . . . Ravitch. I'll have to tinker with that. Hopefully, the owners won't "Ravitch" the game.