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Dick Vitale
College Seton Hall
Sport Basketball
Born June 9, 1939 (1939-06-09) (age 70)
Place of birth Passaic, New Jersey
Career highlights
Overall NCAA: 78-30
NBA: 34-60
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1963
1964-1971
1971-1973
1973-1977
1978-1979
Garfield HS
East Rutherford HS
Rutgers *
U. of Detroit
Detroit Pistons
* Denotes assistant
Basketball Hall of Fame, 2008

Richard J. "Dick" Vitale (pronounced /vaɪˈtæl/; born June 9, 1939) is an American basketball sportscaster. A former head coach in the college and professional ranks, he is well-known as a college basketball broadcaster and for the enthusiastic and colorful remarks he makes during games. He is known for his trademark catchphrase "baby." He has authored seven books and appeared in several movies.

Contents

Coaching

High school coaching

Vitale took his first job as a coach at an elementary school in Garfield, New Jersey in 1963. Eventually he moved up to the high school level to become head coach at Garfield High School for one season, and then at East Rutherford High School (his alma mater) and slowly became a New Jersey high school basketball coaching legend.

College coaching

In 1971, Vitale moved to Rutgers University as an assistant coach under head coach Dick Lloyd. After two seasons there, he was hired in 1973 by the University of Detroit to become its head coach. Vitale took Detroit to the 32-team NCAA tournament in 1977. Vitale had a 78-30 record during his tenure at Detroit, which including a 21-game winning streak during the 1977 season. During that streak the Titans defeated the eventual champion Marquette on the road in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Following the 1977 season, his fourth as Detroit head coach, Vitale was named the university's athletic director.

NBA coaching

Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons of the NBA for the 1978-79 season, leading them to a 30-52 (.366) record.[1] On Nov. 8, 1979, Pistons owner Bill Davidson came to Vitale's house and told him that the Pistons were making a coaching change. It was twelve games into 1979-80 season, after the Pistons struggled to a 4-8 start. The primary reason for Vitale's downfall with the Pistons was the maneuver that brought Bob McAdoo to Detroit. M.L. Carr’s decision to sign with Boston as a free agent in 1979 spawned a transaction in which the Pistons, entitled to compensation for Carr, demanded Bob McAdoo, who the Celtics were looking to unload due to injuries. Vitale loved McAdoo, and the Celtics swindled two 1980 first-round draft picks (in addition to Carr) out of Vitale in exchange for McAdoo in a combination free agent signing/trade. One became the first overall pick in the 1980 draft. Boston used that pick to pull off one of the greatest trades in sports history–that pick (Joe Barry Carroll) plus the #13 pick to the Warriors in exchange for Robert Parish and the #3 pick (Kevin McHale).

Broadcasting

Following his departure as coach of the Detroit Pistons, Scotty Connal gave Vitale his first TV opportunity at the then fledgling ESPN cable network. Vitale accepted on a temporary basis until another coaching job became available and stayed for the next several decades. His first reaction to the job of broadcaster was "Absolutely no way. I know nothing about TV. I want to get back to where I belong and my spirit belongs." He was reluctant to accept the position but his wife Lorraine told him to "go on TV and have some fun." He called ESPN's first college basketball game on December 5, 1979, when DePaul defeated Wisconsin 90–77.[2] His first play-by-play partner was Joe Boyle.

Vitale was not a natural at first for broadcasting. He missed his first-ever production meeting when he was walking the streets of Chicago. Also, he would talk while the producers were talking to him through earpiece, during commercials, and while the play-by-play man was talking. Vitale himself was not sure if broadcasting would fit him. Connal, who had hired him told him, "You have a quality we can't teach." Vitale did not understand this until many people wanted his autograph at the 1983 Final Four. He credits a lot of his success to working with Jim Simpson at the beginning of his career.

In December 2002, Vitale called a St. Vincent - St. Mary'sOak Hill Academy prep game, featuring then high school phenom LeBron James. He announced the game with Brad Nessler and NBA great Bill Walton.[3]

By the 2004-05 season, Vitale was doing approximately 40 games a year.[4]

In November 2006, Vitale signed a contract extension with ESPN through the 2012–13 college basketball year. The 2008–09 season was his 30th with the ESPN network.

Vitale was recruited to do color in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament by CBS but ESPN would not allow it. However, ESPN's analysts Jay Bilas and Len Elmore were allowed to provide color for CBS's tournament coverage, teaming with play-by-play announcers Dick Enberg and Gus Johnson.

Vitale is a voter on the AP Top 25 men's basketball polls, the annual Naismith Award and the John Wooden Award.

On September 5, 2008 Vitale was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a contributor to the sport, after falling just short of induction the previous year.

Vitale called his first NBA game on television, since the 1984 NBA playoffs, along with Dan Shulman on January 7, 2009 when the Miami Heat played the Denver Nuggets as ESPN swapped its NBA and NCAA crews. During ESPN's first incarnation covering the NBA, he regularly covered games.

Broadcasting partners

As of 2009, Vitale has called close to a thousand games. Vitale, a color commentator, is primarily paired with play-by-play announcers Mike Patrick, primarily those in the ACC games; and Dan Shulman for Saturday Primetime and other non-ACC games. During the postseason, he appears as an in-studio analyst with host Rece Davis and fellow analysts Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps, Hubert Davis, and Bob Knight. Previously, he has been paired with Keith Jackson, Roger Twibell, and Brent Musburger for ABC as well as Jim Simpson, Tim Brando,[5] Mike Tirico, and Brad Nessler. He worked in the studio with Bob Ley, John Saunders, Mike Tirico, and Chris Fowler as well as the late Jim Valvano.[6]

Catchphrases

Vitale is well known for covering the biggest games with his rare form of over the top energy and enthusiasm, coining terms like "Diaper Dandy" (an outstanding freshman), a "PTPer" (a prime time player), "Maalox Masher" (the end of a close game), "Trifecta" (a three point basket), "slap a lapper napper", "super scintillating sensational slam jam bam bam!" (exciting play), and "dipsy-doo dunkeroo diddle dop slam-jam-bam, pudding-pop baby!" (an exciting slam dunk). Also, from time to time he would refer to a player making almost all his shots by saying "call the fire chief cause he's on fire!". Perhaps his best known affectation is to end his sentence with "baby!" He frequently says, "It's awesome, baby, yeah yeah yeah!" adding "with a capital B!" for emphasis. Another phrase he uses is "Freeze it!" during an instant replay, when he wants to spotlight a certain play. Vitale says a player is a "Window-Washer" if he excels at rebounding. Vitale's signature style is composed of his catchphrases and his nasally voice.

Accusations of Bias

Vitale is often criticizedfor being a "homer" for Duke, especially for Coach Mike Krzyzewski, as well as most teams in the ACC[citation needed]. He is also known for mentioning Duke frequently during broadcasts, even when Duke is not playing. Temple head coach John Chaney once said "You can't get Dick Vitale to say 15 words without Duke coming out of his mouth."[7] He is also called "Duke Vitale" or "Dookie V," a take-off on his "Dickie V" nickname, by detractors for the same reason. Although his bias towards Duke is widely speculated by many, he is also believed to favor the entire ACC in general, including Duke's rival, North Carolina. [8]

Personal life

Vitale was born in Passaic, New Jersey. His father, John, was a security guard and clothing press operator.[9] His mom, Mae, worked in a factory as a seamstress and sewed coats until she suffered a stroke.[10]

Vitale graduated from Seton Hall University in 1963 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. He later earned a master's degree in education from what is now William Paterson University. He was close friends with Jim Valvano, also known as "Jimmy V", and continues to spearhead fundraising activities for the V Foundation for Cancer Research in his honor. Vitale is a Tampa Bay Rays season ticket holder and fan and is frequently spotted by fans sitting in the first row behind home plate at Tropicana Field. He is a native of East Paterson, New Jersey, now Elmwood Park, New Jersey. Vitale is now a resident of Lakewood Ranch, Florida, which is located near Bradenton, Florida. He appears once a week on Mike and Mike in the Morning, often mentioning The Broken Egg, a breakfast/brunch restaurant in Siesta Key and Lakewood Ranch.

On December 18, 2007, Vitale was diagnosed with lesions on his vocal chords. He underwent successful surgery and returned to announcing on February 6, calling the Duke-North Carolina game on ESPN, often exclaiming, "It's Serendipity, baby!" when things come together. Before this, he had never missed a game due to illness.

Dick Vitale is married and has two daughters, both of whom attended the University of Notre Dame and played varsity tennis. He is frequently seen at Notre Dame football games and is an avid supporter of the school.

In popular culture

Vitale lent his name and voice to the 1994 Sega Genesis game, Dick Vitale's "Awesome Baby" College Hoops. Vitale and Nessler also provide the commentator voices for EA Sports' NCAA Basketball (formerly NCAA March Madness) video game series. In 2004, Vitale released a descriptive autobiography cowritten with Dick Weiss entitled Living a Dream. The book has several thoughts and comments on his days with the Pistons and ESPN, and memories of former NC State basketball Coach Jim Valvano. In 1988, Vitale had a cameo appearance as a baseball color commentator, sharing the crowded broadcast booth with Curt Gowdy, Jim Palmer, Dick Enberg, Mel Allen, Tim McCarver and Joyce Brothers in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!. Vitale currently stars in commercials for DiGiorno pizza and Hooters restaurants. He guest starred on The Cosby Show along with friend Jim Valvano as furniture movers in the eighth season episode The Getaway. Dick Vitale is also the main spokesperson for Airborne Athletics Dr. Dish basketball training machine (http://www.drdishbasketball.com)!

Author

Vitale has authored seven books:

  • "Living a Dream: Reflections on 25 Years Sitting in the Best Seat", Champaign, IL Sports Publishing LLC (January 1, 2003)
  • "Dick Vitale's Fabulous 50 Players and Moments in College Basketball: From the Best Seat in the House During My 30 Years at ESPN", Ascend Books (October 6, 2008)
  • "Time Out Baby!", Berkley (December 1, 1992)
  • "Vitale", Simon and Schuster; 1st Edition edition (1988)
  • "Dickie V's Top 40 All-Everything Teams", Masters Press (June 1994)
  • "Tourney Time: It's Awesome Baby!", Masters Press,(December 1993)
  • "Holding Court: Reflections on the Game I Love", Masters Press (November 1995)

References

External links

Preceded by
Bob Kauffman
Detroit Pistons head coach
1978–1979
Succeeded by
Richie Adubato







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