Originally posted Friday, July 5, 2019 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
John Sterling, the former Atlanta Hawks and Braves radio and TV host from the 1980s, took a day off from a New York Yankees broadcast Thursday for the first time in 30 years, breaking a whopping 5,060-game streak.
Sterling and his baritone voice did play-by-play for Hawks games (1981-89) on radio (640/WGST-AM) and Atlanta Braves baseball games (1982-87) for Ted Turner’s TBS. He handled double duty for five years, equaling 220 basketball and baseball games combined a year.
“Even I think that’s amazing,” Sterling told the New York Times.
Sterling called that incredible 18-inning game from July 4, 1985 when Braves pitcher Rick Camp (lifetime .060 average) tied the game with a home run at 3:20 a.m.
What’s hilarious is Sterling actually said, moments before it actually happened: “If he hits a home run to tie this game, this game will be certified as absolutely the nuttiest in the history of baseball.”
In a weird coincidence, Sterling’s Hawks co-host for four years was Steve Holman, who has been calling Hawks games since 1985 without missing a single game.
In an interview today, Holman said his current streak of consecutive Hawks games is 2,581 but he only includes his time as the solo announcer. He also was Sterling’s sidekick for more than 250 Hawks games from 1985 to 1989.
The two remain close friends and Holman wished Sterling a happy 81st birthday yesterday personally. “I always see him when I go up to New York and we grab dinner,” Holman said while visiting his grandkids in Madison, Miss.. “My kids call him Uncle Johnny.”
Sterling said the end of the streak does not mean anything but a short respite since he was feeling a bit under the weather. He said he will be back on manning WFAN-AM Yankees games after the All-Star break.
“He’s going to be fine,” Holman said.
Naturally, Sterling’s streak is far bigger than Holman’s because Major League Baseball plays so many more games than the NBA: 162 to 82 during the regular season alone.
At the same time, the broadcasters end up traveling about the same because baseball teams stay in the same place three or four days at at time for series that typically last two to four games. Basketball teams have more days off but travel just as much since they play a team only once before moving on.
Right now, Holman, a mere 65 years old, has no intention of leaving his post.
“I want to do it as long as they let me,” Holman said. “As long as I still sound good.”
And he can’t think of any reason why they both had such long streaks. “We both have the same work ethic,” he said. “Just show up every day.”
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