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Gowdy Jr., behind scenes, provides All-Star touch


Even if he wanted to, Curt Gowdy Jr. couldn't run away from his famous lineage.

Not long after he is introduced to people, particularly in his native New England, Gowdy, who will produce tonight's All-Star Game telecast for ABC (Chs. 2, 7, 8 p.m.), inevitably is treated to stories about his famous father.

But, far from trying to escape the lengthy shadow of Gowdy pere -- the Hall of Fame announcer for the Boston Red Sox and three networks, not to mention host of the longtime "American Sportsman" outdoors series -- Gowdy fils embraces it.

"I always get a big smile on my face when people remember my dad, not just as a broadcaster, but more importantly as a gentleman," said Gowdy Jr. "That's taught me a lot certainly in terms of how to deal with people in our business. I've learned a lot from him."

The younger Gowdy, who is also the coordinating producer of "Wide World of Sports," recalls having the run of Fenway Park as a kid, as well as going on trips for his father's "American Sportsman" and football assignments.

Gowdy Jr. said his dad was nurturing, but never tried to push him into broadcasting. As he progressed through high school and college, occasionally acting as a go-fer on network telecasts, he realized that he wanted a part of his father's business, but from the other side of the camera.

"At one point, when I got out of college, I always felt that I could never fill his shoes ever, if I went into broadcasting as an announcer," said Gowdy Jr.

Good decision, for in his 15 years as a producer, Gowdy Jr. has become one of the best in the business, with 13 Emmy Awards to his credit, with trophies for his work on "Wide World," the 1989 World Series, the 1987 Kentucky Derby, the 1980 Winter Olympics and the 1984 Summer Olympics and college football.

"I wanted to work behind the scenes. That's where I thought I could best make a mark, creating my own style and doing things my own way," said Gowdy Jr. "That was my goal as a young kid. I knew that at 12 years old, and I never wavered from it."

In the booth, Al Michaels, Jim Palmer and Tim McCarver will call the game, with John Saunders performing anchor duties and Lesley Visser reporting.

All-Stars on the radio

CBS Radio, and its local affiliate, WBAL (1090 AM), will have extensive coverage of tonight's game from The Ballpark in Arlington at 8 p.m.

Included among the pre-game features are a look at the 75th anniversary of the Negro Leagues with John Rooney, who talks with Hall of Famer Buck O'Neill. Also, the often-befuddled Jerry Coleman talks with acting commissioner Bud Selig, so the line of questioning will be far less than rigorous.

Telling the whole story

ESPN blew it big time yesterday during the 6:30 p.m. "SportsCenter" by teasing the Home Run Derby competition from the All-Star workout ceremonies, but not telling the viewer who won.

The network aired a tape of the derby later and didn't want to tip off prospective viewers to the outcome, but a news-gathering organization shouldn't play fast and loose with facts. They could have warned people to turn away if they wanted to be surprised, but ESPN was obligated to report the news, especially on a night when there was little.

The wrong stuff, baby

In its current edition, which features Baltimore's own Cal Ripken on the cover, TV Guide asked a number of celebrities what they'd do to fix baseball.

Many of the ideas seemed harmless enough, but you get the feeling that Vanessa Williams, the former Miss America who is enjoying success as a singer/actress, doesn't quite get this baseball thing, based on her suggestion.

"I'd make the game shorter and bring more production values like cheerleaders and hip music to the park -- give the sport more of a show biz feel," said Williams.

Then again, maybe a circus atmosphere is what the game needs, because there are more than enough clowns running it.

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