The Glickman Years At UConn

By Eli Dunn, with thanks to Wayne Norman


  Marty Glickman with WILI's Wayne Norman broadcasting a UConn game at the Field House in 1984.

Hall of fame broadcaster Marty Glickman died January 3, 2001 at the age of 83. Glickman, a Syracuse graduate, was a world-class track star who began his career in broadcasting in 1945. He lost a chance at Olympic gold when he was not allowed to compete in the 1936 Olympics for political reasons. He was a pioneer in college basketball coverage for Madison Square Garden during the late forties and for the first television broadcasts of the NBA in the 1950's. At various times, he was the radio voice of the New York Knicks, New York Football Giants and New York Jets. He was the first radio voice of the Knicks. 
The radio booth at Madison Square Garden was named for Marty Glickman in 2001.  A sign and an antique microphone was placed atop the booth.

Those accomplishments are well chronicled. But also included in his resume was a five-year stint at the University of Connecticut, doing football and basketball. The 1981-82 UConn basketball media guide features a head shot of Glickman with the following statement "This season's CRN coverage of UConn basketball will feature nationally known radio broadcaster Marty Glickman as the voice of Connecticut basketball". The 1985-86 guide has a much larger picture, showing Glickman and radio partner Wayne Norman wearing their headsets during a broadcast.

Not surprisingly, almost all of the tributes to Glickman omit his years at Connecticut. First, Connecticut is not New York. Secondly, UConn basketball had not arrived as a national program in those days and UConn football played to a very small audience. Thirdly, those were not successful years for Husky Hoops.

The 1981-82 team, led by Corny Thompson and Mike McKay, lost five of its last six games to finish 17-9 in the regular season. Next, in the only Big East tournament played in the Hartford Civic Center, UConn lost 54-52 to St John's on a Chris Mullin corner jumper. Dayton added insult to injury with an overtime 76-75 overtime victory in the first round of the NIT. A technical foul on point guard Karl Hobbs, now an assistant coach at UConn, doomed the Huskies in that one.

It was all downhill from there, as UConn took plenty of lumps during the fledgling years of the Big East Conference. For the only time other than 1931-36, the Huskies suffered through five consecutive losing seasons. Glickman was around for nearly four of them. Eventually, illness caused him to quit halfway through his fifth season, and Joe D'Ambrosio replaced him. Marty never got to call a UConn postseason win, and the 62 losses from 1982-85 were the most in any Connecticut four year period.

Still, Glickman's years at UConn were not forgotten by those who worked with him and heard him. He was a consummate professional, determined to paint an accurate picture for the listener. He had a thorough knowledge of the rulebook.

Says Wayne Norman, "Joe and I both learned a lot from Marty, who stressed court geography to help the listener form a mental picture. He told me to share emotions with the audience. If you sense a momentum change, SAY IT, because you are there and the listener isn't."

Joe D often uses Marty's line "just the start of things" at the beginning of a game or half, and some sources credit Glickman with the now hackneyed phrase "going left to right on your radio dial".

Accuracy in all things was important to Glickman. I recall listening to a UConn postgame where Marty stated that the site of the next game would be Tempe (he pronounced it Tem-pay), Arizona. On the pregame the next week, he apologized and corrected the pronunciation to Tem-pee.

A few anecdotes from Wayne Norman help illustrate the nature of the man.

"At Holy Cross in 1982. We're in the visiting the press box - across Fitton Field from the main press box, which is an extension of some VIP/Alumni section, not glassed off. As Holy Cross drove for a dramatic winning late touchdown, Marty stood up during a time out and scolded the cheering fans: "There's no cheering in the press box", said Marty. Holy Cross won 10-7.

"Marty was always well versed on the rule book. September 1984. UConn 41 Morgan State 14. With UConn comfortably in front, third string running back Gregg Morrison turned the corner on a toss sweep and was running down the right sideline, when Morgan State assistant coach Darryl Coulter stepped into the field of play and tackled Morrison. Marty knew immediately it was an automatic touchdown long before most--including me--knew the interpretation".

"His first UConn basketball game was November 1981. UConn played Maine at the Civic Center in Portland. At the hotel, a reporter for the Portland Press-Herald asked for the first of what would be many Marty interviews on the road. Asked if he harbored any bitterness about being robbed of the 1936 Gold Medal, Marty said "No. I only regret that I don't have a gold medal to show my grandchildren."

" December 1981. In the Oil Capital Classic consolation game at Tulsa Oklahoma, Chuck Aleksinas of UConn rips down the net while chasing a rebound in the first minute of play. There are no replacement nets in the building. They had to go several blocks away to a YMCA for a net. The delay is approximately 30-40 minutes. During the delay, Marty tries (and repeatedly succeeds) stumping new partner Wayne on sports trivia (how far is the rim removed from the backboard, how wide is the pitching rubber...etc.).  Then some kids start racing those 2-foot long remote controlled cars around the basketball floor. Marty seizes the opportunity and starts doing play by play of the car races! Stunned, I could not offer color analysis. UConn wins in OT."

"Home games (Storrs) were three hour drives for Marty. January 9, 1981, while driving to Storrs in a snow/ice storm, Marty rolled his car twice, the second time hospitalizing him". Obviously, one try wasn't good enough for Marty.

Whether he covered the Giants, the Knicks or UConn basketball, Marty Glickman made the game come alive. He set a standard for sportscasting that has never been equaled. He will be missed. And we can all rest assured, wherever he is now, "it's just the start of things."
Read Mike DiMauro of the New London Day's brilliant tribute to Marty--click here.
Read more on the legacy of Marty Glickman by clicking here, here, and here.
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