Niagara Gazette

Columns

October 27, 2013

GLYNN: Amazin' Bill began career in Buffalo

Niagara Gazette — Longtime sports fans in the Buffalo-Niagara area have vivid memories of Bill Mazer, 92, the legendary broadcaster who died last week in an assisted-living facility in Danbury, Conn.

Mazer, who became famous for his encyclopedic knowledge, especially of sports trivia, started his career in 1947 at radio station WKBW in Buffalo. He had been recommended by Marty Glickman, a fixture in the Madison Square Garden press box. Within a year, Mazer was hired as sports director for WGR radio and was the sports anchor at WGR-TV (Ch. 2) from 1954 to the early 1960s. For the young University of Michigan graduate, the Queen City was an intensely competitive market for sportscasters. WBEN, for example, was loaded with top talent like Ralph Hubbell, Chuck Healy, Dick Rifenburg and Don Cunnigham. Still, Mazer created his own niche.

Among assignments, he was the voice of the Niagara University Purple Eagles, with his colorful coverage of Little Three Conference basketball games at the old Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. He had all the skill and savvy of another famous sportscaster Bill Stern who could make reading names from a phone book sound exciting.

One memorable night, when NU was playing at the student center on campus, Mazer went overboard criticizing the Purple Eagles for their sloppy performance. Several times, he fumed about the apparent lack of a sound strategy and the consistent failure to set up plays, He made it clear — more than once — that the Eagles needed better coaching. 

Coach John J. (”Taps”) Gallagher was obviously preoccupied with his chores at court side so he had no idea that Mazer was blasting him on the radio. However, as the story goes, Mazer would eventually get an earful about his remarks because Gallagher’s wife was listening at home. In all fairness, NU was experiencing a rare off night and even Taps, one of the most respected coaches in the nation, suffered from the frustration, despite the endless hours of practice and planning.

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