This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of MemphiSport.
I spent a big part of my life as the sports anchor on Channel 5 and had the opportunity to meet and interview many world famous personalities…
It was back in the 80’S at the All-Star Break. Avron Fogelman hosted a party at his house to watch the game and mingle with several big leaguers he had invited to enjoy the game. At the time, Mr. Fogelman was part owner of the Kansas City Royals, so he was well connected with big league players. He also invited several of the “local sports guys,” knowing that we would be in hog heaven.
One of ball players in attendance was Mickey Mantle. I asked if I could interview him and he said, “OK.”
I asked him the usual questions — biggest moment with the Yankees, what is he doing now and other mundane stuff.
Then it hit me like a ton on bricks. I knew that Mason Granger, our news anchor and my foil on the set was a huge Yankees fan, so I asked Mickey if he would ad lib a tribute to Mason to be played on the news that night.
Mickey said, “Sure. I know just what you want.”
“I just want take a minute to pay tribute to Mason Granger.We Yankees know of his love for the team and we appreciate his support over the years.” He looks right in the camera and said, “Mason, on behalf of the New York Yankees, may I just say thank you.”
Off I went, back to the station to get ready for the news, which came on late because NBC carried the All-Star Game. So the news comes on around 11:00pm and I did the game highlights, then announced my special presentation and showed the Mickey Mantle piece.
To say that Mason was stunned would be a gross understatement — he was flabbergasted. It was the first time I saw him at a loss for words. I had nailed him good.
Of all the people I met and interviewed, I only got one autograph — Archie Moore. It was back in 1945 My buddy Pat and I were in Cleveland seeing some baseball games, when we saw in the paper that Archie Moore and Jimmy Bivens were going to fight for the heavyweight chsampionship. And the tickets were cheap enough that we could afford to go. Here is what happened.
Bivens knocked Moore down in the center of the ring and with Moore on his knees, Bivens blasted him with a right uppercut.Moore was knocked across the ring and was out like a light.
What to do? It was an illegal punch — Moore was on his knees and unable to defend himself. So, to give him the fight would have been a travesty. So they gave Moore a five minute rest and started the fight up again!
Moore was still half unconscious as he went back and took a terrible beating, but he would not quit. What courage. What moxie. What a man. He lost the fight, but I never forgot what a display of pure guts. Wow. So when I met archie I had to have his autograph.
I’d like to say, ”Now you know the rest of the story,” but that would be too corny, even for me.
“Big “ Jack Eaton can be heard every Friday at 8am on KWAM 990 alongside former County Commissioner John Willingham. In February, Jack was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
Written by Jack Eaton. Illustration by Andrew Chandler. “Big” Jack can be heard every Friday at 8am on KWAM 990 alongside former County Commissioner John Willingham. He was recently inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.