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Gallagher column: The NSSA Notebook

The NSSA notebook …
Cincinnati Reds announcer Marty Brennaman, the Ohio Sportscaster of the Year, lost a good friend on April 13 when Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas collapsed and died in the booth.
In fact, the two talked just days before the 73-year-old Kalas passed away.
“The more I think about the conversation, the more ironic it is,” Brennaman said. “I talked to him about the importance of getting rest. I told him there are some nights I go to bed at 9:30. I told him I might get up at 5:30 and he said, ‘That’s usually when I get in.’
“And he wasn’t lying. Harry was a night rider, boy.”
Brennaman remembers the love affair Kalas had with fans.
Kalas never turned anybody away for an autograph and always talked to any fan who approached him. Brennaman tried to relay that to his listeners when he dedicated the Reds’ pregame show on April 14 to his buddy.
“It was such an emotional thing. I couldn’t get through it,” Brennaman said.
Brennaman has heard people say what a great baseball man Kalas was.
“I say, ‘Wait a minute. Harry was a great person,’ ” Brennaman said.

So has Brennaman ever gotten into it with Phillies fans?
“No matter what I said about Phillies fans, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to Cubs fans,” he said with a laugh. “I got in trouble with Cubs fans last summer.
“Phillies fans were like they were sent from heaven compared to Cubs fans.”

Arkansas sportswriter of the year David McCollum has been in Salisbury before. The sports editor of the Log Cabin Democrat covered Central Arkansas when it lost to Catawba in the 2001 Division II football playoffs.

Jim Brandstatter is this year’s Sportscaster of the Year from Michigan. He covers the Detroit Lions.
See, the Lions did win something this year.

Well, another year and, once again, none of my afternoon sports talk show regulars are in Salisbury.
No Kornheiser and no Wilbon.
No Reali, no Woody, no Mariotti, no Plasche, no Cowlishaw.
No Jim Rome.
So here’s my yearly shout-out, boys.

Larry Glover is a first-time winner as the sportscaster from Kentucky. He covers the Kentucky Wildcats and said the fans are excited about new basketball coach John Calipari.
“They’ve longed for the Rick Pitino style of coaching, and Calipari is as close as it gets,” Glover said. “Kentucky basketball is an enormous animal, and Calipari has been prepping for this his whole life.”

Glover, like just about everybody else at this year’s banquet, has a Brennaman story.
“Marty was my introduction to radio,” said Glover, who grew up in rural Kentucky and listened to Reds’ broadcasts. “I thought as a kid, ‘What a fantastic way to make a living.’ ”
Another Glover tidbit. His first game at Riverfront Stadium as a kid was when Hank Aaron hit home run No. 714.

My favorite NSSA names are Louisiana sportswriter Marty Mule and Utah sportswriter Dirk Facer.

Officials said the numbers were down for this year’s NSSA weekend due to layoffs and cutbacks. Only half of the winners were expected to show.

Do New York winners Bruce Beck of WNBC and Phil Mushnick of the New York Post know that Rowan County has produced a New Met in reliever Bobby Parnell?

I asked West Virginia sportswriter Chuck Landon of Huntington whatever happened to former Mountaineer hoops star Kevin Pittsnogle.
I actually wanted to know for my kids, who were big Pittsnogle fans a few years ago when the 6-foot-11 3-point specialist was leading WVU in the NCAA tournament.
Landon recently did a story on Pittsnogle and reports he is 300 pounds, married and has two children. He is a special education teacher at a middle school, bowls in a league three nights a week and lives in a double-wide.
“He wants to be a good ol’ boy,” Landon said. “But everybody’s always telling him he should be playing basketball. So he’s always twisting in the wind about it.”

And finally …Landon admits the Salisbury Post saves his marriage every year about this time.
Landon and wife, Bonnie, were married in Salisbury on May 2, 2005 when he was here as the West Virginia winner. Magistrate Todd Wyrick did the honors and, still wearing his tuxedo, Landon showed up for Monday night’s banquet.
Thankfully, he says, he kept the May 3 edition of the Post.
“I’m terrible with dates,” Landon said. “So I go downstairs and pull out the paper from the day after our wedding. This is my guide to keep me from missing my anniversary and getting put in the doghouse.
“I look at the date and say, ‘Bingo. This is it.’ Then I go upstairs and say, ‘Happy Anniversary, honey!’ ”
After Bonnie reads this, let’s hope she’s sitting with him tonight at the banquet.

Contact Ronnie Gallagher at 704-797-4287 or rgallagher@salisburypost.com.

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