RUSH: I am holding in my hand, in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers, a copy of Jim Nantz’s Always by My Side: A Father’s Grace and a Sports Journey Unlike Any Other. I learned of this book back in February out at Pebble Beach. Jim is with us now. Jim, welcome to the EIB Network for the first time. It’s really great to have you here.
NANTZ: Well, Rush, it’s the first time I’ve talked to you on the air. Of course, we’ve spoken in e-mail for a long time for years, and off the air visited. This is a thrill to be on the EIB radio New York.
RUSH: Well, it’s likewise a thrill to have you here. So many great things in this book, Jim, and it’s so timely, given the roiled circumstances in our culture, your book and your life, the relationship with your family, the way you’ve lived provide an example to anybody that that’s virtuous and still happens in this country and that it’s rewarded. Jim Nantz, ladies and gentlemen, dreamed when he was a young boy like all of us did, of being sportscasters someday. My idols growing up were Harry Caray and Jack Buck. I wanted to be a sportscaster; never did it. Jim Nantz dreamed of being at CBS when he was a young boy, and now here he is for — how many years now at CBS?
NANTZ: Twenty-three, almost half my lifetime. It was more than a dream. It was almost bordering on an obsession. I know that’s a little bit of a strong word, but I had this crazy little idea at the age of 11. I turned to my father watching the Masters tournament, I declared it right there on the spot, ‘One day I want to be one of those voices. I want to be there telling the story of that great tournament and all these championships and sporting events around the world.’ That’s what I wanted to do.
RUSH: And you’ve done it. And you’ve not just done it, 63-day stretch in 2007 from February through April, you became the first broadcaster ever to call the Super Bowl, the Final Four, and the Masters.
NANTZ: Well, you know, that was something that no one had ever had the great fortune of being able to declare during the course of a career, and I got to do all of those events in two months. It’s a statement really about CBS having the stars aligned more than it has anything to do with any ability or talent on my part. They just all ended up at my network and I had a chance to make those championship journeys back-to-back to back. It was very special.
RUSH: You still did it, and you’ve maintained your humility throughout all of this, which is unique. Now, was it CBS, because CBS had the Masters, was it the Masters that you wanted to do or was it a combination of the two?
NANTZ: I think it was really the fact that CBS had the Masters and even back then they were, you know, in this long stretch, this wonderful relationship that is very old-fashioned and just the way that it’s set up, it’s always a one-year agreement, and we’re now 53 years in a row of broadcasting that tournament on one-year agreements. So I’m a young man, and I just hear these stories by these gentlemen like Pat Summerall and Jack Whitaker, who were working the broadcasts back in those days for CBS and they were just waxing poetic, and I loved their erudition about everything, beyond just the golf tournament itself. All their knowledge really struck me, and I wanted to be one of one of those men, one of those voices that had this worldliness, if you will, and awareness and appreciation for all things, all cultures, all places and people.
RUSH: One of the things I want to convey to the audience, Jim, and I mentioned this in an e-mail to you about what we would do here today. This book is a fantastic thing. You all have watched Jim Nantz and you’ve heard Jim Nantz for 23 years in some cases, but you don’t know Jim Nantz because Jim Nantz is the best at what he does. He never makes whatever event he’s at about him. He always makes sure that he brings the event to you, and this book is an opportunity for people to get to know you, Jim, in a personal way, and I want to tell people, if they ever get a chance to meet you, you are going to be exactly what they hope you would be from having known you on television all of these years. A lot of people meet people in prominent positions, primarily in media, and they want them to be what they see on TV, hear on radio, and oftentimes they’re not, but you are. You’re just as genuine and humble in person as you are on the air. Let’s start here at the beginning of your book, because you’re in Fort Worth, and you’re doing a golf tournament, you’re doing the Colonial, and your dad is with you, and I’m jump-starting a little bit here, but this is I think the first time your dad is going to — not the first time — but that’s the beginning of his illness that happened there, and it was very tragic thing, and they didn’t tell you about what actually happened to him ’til after the tournament, correct?
NANTZ: That’s correct. My father was 66 at the time, healthy, strapping, smart, self-made man who came out of a little town in North Carolina, a real entrepreneurial spirit about everything in his life, always wanted to better himself, always wanted to learn, live life like you do, Rush, with zest to the fullest, wanted to take it all in. So he would often go out with me on the road to various sporting events, Final Fours, Masters, in this case it was the Colonial tournament. I thought he was overheated when he came to the tower as we were about to go on the air. Ken Venturi is sitting by my side, and something I could tell right away was terribly wrong. What it was was he was actually suffering a stroke right before my very eyes. Now we’re going on the air, and he’s trying to make his way back to the clubhouse. I didn’t realize it was that desperate, but he collapsed at the base of my tower and what it really was, it was triggering the onset of Alzheimer’s. His life was never the same. Now, I had been at the network ten years. Not only did I have this dream — some may have called it far-fetched when I was a young boy to work for CBS one day — but now it’s happened, and I have now dream part two, and that is the one I want my father to be with me every step of the way, traveling with me from sport to sport, seeing all the great championships that we have here in our country.
RUSH: Yeah, but you wanted to do this as a team, and he didn’t want any part of that.
NANTZ: Well, you know, he was starting to kind of cede to it. He initially passed it off as, ‘We’ll see, son,’ but, you know, he maintained his independence. But I really thought that we were moving within a couple of years of that becoming a reality, where I really could find purpose for him being on the road. It’s a busy life that’s always in a different city every week, and correspondence and otherwise it’s difficult to stay on top and manage things, and I just could see as the only son, I could see that father-and-son bond now transitioning to the point where even to this day he would have been 79 years old, and there I go again, I’m talking about him in the past tense. He’s now 13 years deep in the darkened stage of Alzheimer’s. He’s still alive and I catch myself talking about him in the past tense, and it crushes me. But I can still see him out there today with me, and that’s why I took that backdrop last year, those three events, Super Bowl, Final Four, Masters and used that as the backdrop, as the place to kind of write about how this would have been the ultimate father-son sports road trip, but I wanted to make this like something you do, Rush, you inspire people, and you make things, you know, everything you have is a message. I wanted to really strike universal themes: faith, loyalty, love, family, relationships, optimism, courage, and grace, and that’s what the book really is. It transcends. It’s not a sports book. It’s a book about love and relationships.
RUSH: It is indeed. Now, we’ve met your father here in this interview, in his sixties. Did he encourage you when you told him way back when you were a teenager that you wanted to work at CBS?
NANTZ: Rush, he made me believe anything I ever wanted to achieve in my life was obtainable. He made me believe I could do it. He lifted me on his shoulders and actually, like people do with, you know, different things in life, whether they’re playing golf or shooting a free throw or about to go in and make a speech, they visualize — my father taught me the power of visualization and all through my teens I envisioned this life, I saw it. There’s no sense of entitlement at all, but I believed that one day it was going to happen, so when I got the chance to audition for CBS years later, at the age of 26, it was almost like I was just waiting for the script that I’d already written for life to kind of evolve and catch up with my script. I felt totally comfortable and prepared and ready for that situation, because in my mind, I played it out. I knew one day it was going to arrive.
RUSH: Did your mom and dad make you feel special?
NANTZ: Oh, of course. I was raised in just about as perfect a home environment as you could ever imagine. You know, my parents were very humble people. My mom, you talk about a hero, is still going strong and fit and active and smart and concerned with all things in the world, and my father was always one with a curious mind and wanted me to get broader and wider than just worrying about who was winning a game. He looked at the world of sports with a romance in his eyes. He liked to learn about people who overcame things. He wanted to watch sports to be taken to places and learn about cultures. You know, back in the Wide World of Sports days when Jim McKay was taking us behind the iron curtain or to the Great Wall of China, he loved that. And that’s the way, alas, I look at the world of sports. I’m not an agate type ESPN Sports Center highlight, in-your-face kind of a sports fan. You know, I’m looking for something with a little more thought.
RUSH: The life lessons?
NANTZ: Absolutely. And that’s the reason that — and people have said, ‘Man, you’ve got so many interesting people you’ve met in your life, you know, you ought to write a book about some of these events you do.’ But to me that’s a trip that’s an ego trip. If I was going to write something, it had to be some important messages that would inspire all people.
RUSH: Well, we’ll talk about some of these people that you’ve met because you’ve met everybody in many realms, and they’re all your friends. This man’s got more friends than anybody I know. Jim Nantz, Always by My Side. We’ll continue after this.
RUSH: And we’re back, Rush Limbaugh, the Excellence in Broadcasting Network, and we resume our conversation with Jim Nantz of CBS Sports, his terrific new book, Always by My Side: A Father’s Grace and a Sports Journey Unlike Any Other. There are a lot of names in this book; you’ve met a lot of people. President Bush 41 wrote the forward.
NANTZ: Yes, he did. I didn’t mean to come off like a name dropper there, Rush.
RUSH: No, no, I’m taking care of that. I’m a good name dropper.
NANTZ: And you said I have a lot of friends and I am blessed. I count you as a very dear friend. I treasure all my friendships. My father was like that. I open my shows by saying, ‘Hello, friends,’ and it’s a testament, it’s a tribute to my father, because all he had in his life were friends, and he treated everyone with such dignity and respect from all stations in life, and when I went on that three-championship journey last year, and I had the intentions if my father couldn’t be figuratively by my side, you know, I realized at that very point he would always be by my side, I’d carry his spirit. I’d find surrogates who could continue to inspire and guide me and promote the positives that dad stood for, and no one more so than former President Bush. To write the forward to this book meant a great deal to me, obviously, but his friendship and his guidance for the last 15 years, it’s just not some peripheral know him a little bit on the side, met him at a few events, he’s very much part of my life. I saw him just a couple of days ago. I suspect he’s probably listening right now because he knows I was going to be on your show and I hope he’s feeling a little bit better because he’s been a little under the weather here in recent days, and he wrote some things that I was trying to get across in the book about father figures and people who overcome adversity that really hit home. He wrote in the forward: ‘Few of us will walk this earth and be untouched by tragedy, and as the old saying goes, ‘adversity has a way of introducing you to yourself.”
RUSH: How did you meet him?
NANTZ: I met him just after he left office. The great city of Houston, I heard you talking in the first hour about this ant infestation down in Houston, and that got my attention, but the great city of Houston has lifted me on its shoulders and claimed me as their own. I went to college down there, my parents live in Houston. They’ve taken great pride in my career that not only did they give me a chance, at the age of 20 I was anchoring on the CBS affiliate there in Houston on weekends, the sports, while still living in the dorm over on the University of Houston campus.
RUSH: With who? Who were your roommates?
NANTZ: Fred Couples, Blaine McCallister, both of whom have had big tour careers, and John Horne who was on the tour for one year back in the late eighties. But Houston became the launching point, they claim me, they’re proud of me, and President Bush, of course, has Houston as a home, and he was well aware that there was this kid who had made it to the network. His family had a little history there with CBS. His father actually served on William Paley’s first board at CBS. So anyway, unrelated to that, the president, you know, put out enough feelers and vibes that he wanted to have a chance to meet, and we did just after January ’93 when he left office. We met, we played golf, and this incredible friendship was spawned.
RUSH: Frank Chirkinian.
NANTZ: Frank Chirkinian wants to know why you canceled your golf lesson from a couple of days ago out at the great Emerald Dunes.
RUSH: (laughing) Because I’m working.
NANTZ: Okay, now he said you desperately are in need of a lesson. I know you’re going out to the national Boys & Girls Club function next week, which is a great charity event. But Mr. Chirkinian, for those who don’t know, is the father of golf television, absolute legend in sports television, just got the lifetime sports Emmy a few weeks ago in New York, and he was a father figure to me, and he gave me that tough-love approach. You know, when I first started, I was working with the likes of Summerall and Venturi and some gentlemen I had been listening to, watching, my whole life. I couldn’t believe now I was their colleague, and I was throwing it from hole to hole by, ‘Let’s go back to Mr. Summerall. Mr. Venturi, let me ask you this.’ And finally Frank, after a few shows, brought me to the office and just scolded me, ‘You don’t call these guys mister this or that.’ I had a lot of that tough love, but you know, at first I wasn’t seeing a lot of the love part of the deal.
RUSH: Now, you tell a funny story. I guess your first tower assignment was at the 16th hole.
NANTZ: At my first Masters —
RUSH: At Augusta, first Masters and very close to the green, and you asked Frank, ‘What do I say if someone hits a hole-in-one here?’
NANTZ: Yeah, I was about to head out for the final round, what would turn out to be maybe the greatest day in the history of the game because Jack Nicklaus would that day win his sixth green jacket. So, you know, I was aware, and I’d watched the tournament forever, and I knew that back left hole location was vulnerable to a hole-in-one. ‘What should I say, Mr. Chirkinian, if someone makes a hole-in-one?’ He said, ‘Son, this is a visual medium. You say nothing! Now get outta my office, and don’t ever come in here and ask me a stupid question like that!’ And I ran out to 16, and Jack almost knocked it in from the first tee. I took a peek at the hole. I couldn’t get the words out, Rush. I was so overwhelmed and overmatched, and 26, not believing the network entrusted this weighty assignment with me and I said nothing after he hit the ball until about five minutes later when he knocked the putt in. Now, Frank never cut away off the scene of Jack walking around the pond up to the green, standing around, lining up his putt. I couldn’t talk; my teeth were chattering; I had chill bumps up and down my arms, and thankfully I wasn’t on camera to paint this picture because it would have been an ugly sight. In fact, I was concerned that the mic might be picking up my clicking molars as my teeth were chattering. Finally, Jack makes the putt to tie the lead, and I somehow mustered up enough courage to say, ‘The bear has come out of hibernation,’ sounding, of course, much more mature than my 26 young years, and I was just trying to find a way, Rush, to get invited back the next year. I didn’t want to be one and done and blow it right there.
RUSH: Well, it turned out you had nothing to worry about.
NANTZ: Well, I didn’t know it at the time. I was consumed with self-doubt, believe me.
RUSH: All right, so you’re a kid growing up, and you watch CBS, you have to have idols, you have to have people who inspired you, and in spite of that you have your own unique style, you’re nobody else. What about Ray Scott?
NANTZ: I love Ray Scott and I heard you say Jack Buck and Harry Caray, two icons, but Ray Scott was like the father of the NFL on CBS in those old Green Bay Packers days, and the ultimate minimalist on the air, you know, ‘Starr-Dowler. Touchdown. Green Bay.’ I got to meet Mr. Scott early in my career, and he was so generous with his time. He was retired living in Arizona. But really the Ray Scott, Pat Summerall, Jim McKay, Jack Whitaker, Chris Schenkel, Dick Enberg, Curt Gowdy, that whole group, that really represented the group that really drove me to want to be in this business, the impetus to make this declaration, ‘I want to work for CBS,’ because they were always so smart, erudite about everything. They didn’t try to make the game about them. They were there to tell the story, it wasn’t about the teller. I got hired, again it was back in the mid-eighties, all of them were alive at that time. Now we’ve lost Mr. Gowdy and Mr. Schenkel. But they’ve all become a part of my life, and I want to be a composite of all of them. I want them all to feel invested in my career. And, for example, Chris Schenkel, you remember Chris?
NANTZ: Chris Schenkel one time called me up — and they all call me up, you know, from time to time after a show — and usually they say something like, ‘Mr. Whitaker called after the Masters this year and praised the opening to the Masters show as the best in the history of the tournament,’ which meant a lot to me.
RUSH: You know why they’re doing that? Because they know that you are preserving a tradition that’s vanishing before their very eyes in terms of the way sports is brought into people’s homes these days on television. Do you have a couple more minutes?
NANTZ: I would love to, Rush.
RUSH: We’ll be back and continue with Jim Nantz, Always by My Side is his brand-new book. By the way, it debuted on the New York Times list already.
RUSH: We are in the midst of having a great time with Jim Nantz, CBS Sports, his book, Always by My Side, has debuted already on the upcoming New York Times best-seller list, A Father’s Grace and a Sports Journey Unlike Any Other. I’m really taken by what you said right before the break and I had to cut you short, but you talk about all these people that have come before you, Jim, and you want to be a composite of them. One of the things that, when we speak politically, you know, the traditions, the institutions that have made this country great are worth preserving, and that’s what you’re doing in your field, and that’s why all these people have such reverence for you is because you revered what they did and the ground that they broke, and you’re continuing that tradition against a whole lot of odds, you know, as the media markets expand and get filled with niche broadcasters, you still are defining the right way to do it, and that’s why they’re appreciative.
NANTZ: I think I’m lucky, Rush, in that I got in just in time. The industry definitely has changed, and I’m talking about young broadcasters who come along today, they really feel like they have to do something that’s outlandish to make them stand out. They have to say something provocative that maybe they don’t even really truly believe in their heart and, you know, it’s not really what their beliefs are, but they’re going to sacrifice their beliefs to try to do something to gain attention and I’ve just never tried to be anything other than who I am. And it’s interesting that sometimes it gets you in a little bit of trouble, the old-fashioned conservative approach to doing it, but, you know —
RUSH: What kind of trouble?
NANTZ: Well, since it recently happened, let’s say you do the Masters tournament, and there are some columnists, and this is not a rant at all, people are entitled to their opinion, but people sometimes don’t get that sport. They don’t understand golf, and, in fact, I find the mainstream media to be incredibly anti-everything golf. It’s the easiest sport in the world to attack and all those who are associated with it, so it becomes a breeding ground for ridicule. You can come on the air and you can try to wax poetic and do something that’s lyrical and write something that is written in television form. It’s maybe not grammatically spot on, believe me, I have no grammarian in the world who has any issue with anything I say, but you write something and maybe it’s got some drama to it, and the person that’s reading it or hearing it, doesn’t get it, they don’t understand the sport, they don’t understand what it’s like to walk onto the grounds of Augusta, and for me it’s the childhood dream. I have chill bumps even to this day when I show up there every year. So I don’t look at the world through a prism of sarcasm. Anything I do, I take things face on. I tell you how I feel, and what you hear on the air is what I’m feeling. I’m not going to try to fake it, create synthetic drama. I’m just going to be myself.
RUSH: They’re just jealous, Jim.
NANTZ: (laughing) I don’t know about that.
RUSH: They’re just jealous. They wish they had what you had, including your talent.
NANTZ: You know, my father used to look at people and he treated everyone with such respect, and he always believed that he would rather trust you face on and be disappointed perhaps down the road, be disappointed some of the time rather than never to trust someone, never to believe in someone, and alas, be disappointed all the time. There’s a big difference there.
RUSH: And you try to replicate that philosophy to this day?
NANTZ: I do in everything that I do. I mean that’s just the way I live my life. I was raised that way. I’m wired that way.
RUSH: I can confirm this. You won’t remember this, but this was a big deal to me. It might have been my first or second AT&T. I was playing with Fuzzy Zoeller, and it was Saturday morning before the Saturday round at Pebble, and we were on the putting green, you and your crew were out there, and I think this is actually — I might have seen you at a golf course another day, but I think it was the first time we actually had a chance to talk, and right then and there you were taking people to an Italian restaurant somewhere outside of Pebble that night, and you invited me to go. You didn’t invite me; you told me I was going. I had to fly back, we weren’t going to make the cut, and I had to fly back, but it was the next year that I was there, you invited me. And he had no idea who I was other than by reputation, it didn’t matter, I was going to his dinner. So that will confirm for people that you see the best in everybody first and let ’em disappoint you. One more sportscasting question based on all these guys that have come before you and did not insert themselves into the event. There’s one big name who did, got away with it, Howard Cosell.
NANTZ: You know, in the last few months I’ve met Howard Cosell’s grandsons. They actually live up my way here in Connecticut, and I have great admiration for them and for their grandfather, and I read all of the three books that Howard authored, and I thought he had a brilliant mind, and I met him on a couple of occasions when I was in school at Houston, and the first time I walked up very timidly and shook his hand and told him I wanted to be a broadcaster, you know, I loved all things ABC Sports back in that golden age of sports television. His wife, Emmy, was always with him, and that struck me. I just thought that meant a lot, and I see that now as I’m someone that’s, you know, living this life of the road warrior, but, you know, just a few months later the Houston Astros were playing, because I first met him at a football banquet, then I met him during the baseball playoffs, he was doing some baseball work for ABC with Keith Jackson, and I met him in Philadelphia, and I walked over, and he says, ‘You know, Emmy –‘ that was his wife, and she is unfortunately gone as well, ‘Emmy remembers you from down in Houston. She’s here, why don’t you go over and say hello to her. You made an impression on her young man,’ and I went over, and I saw Emmy Cosell, I walked over and introduced myself, said, ‘I met you in Houston.’ I couldn’t believe it. I mean months later you think of all the thousands of people that he must have met, and for some reason, he had later shared that with his wife and they had discussed it and he knew that she would still remember me as well. I’ll never forget that.
RUSH: You know, I don’t want to intrude on your space here, but I have a similar story, when I was in Pittsburgh working for an ABC-owned-and-operated radio station, Cosell would come in when they had a Monday night game for the Steelers, and the next morning he would go into the radio station, which is KQV, and he would do his Speaking of Sports commentary, and of course we would all make sure we were there to meet him. And this was 1972. About 1979 or ’80, he came in with ABC to Kansas City when I was working for the Royals to do a game, and I’m up in the press box where my assigned duties took place and he’s down in the first base, before the gates are open, he’s down in the first base dugout, the Royals dugout, and he’s pretaping an opening, rehearsing it. So I got my courage up and went down there, and I told him I had met him in Pittsburgh, ‘Great to see you,’ and his first reaction was: Howard Cosell, ‘How dare you insult me, interrupt me, when I’m in the middle of this preparation for this broadcast. You expect me to remember you from Pittsburgh?’ and then he totally changed, after I’m sitting there quaking in my boots, ‘Of course, I remember, how are you? Nice to see you.’
NANTZ: Oh, isn’t that great. Brilliant.
RUSH: You know, these guys, one more name, two more names here. Don Ohlmeyer. I didn’t know that you knew Ohlmeyer. I never associated Ohlmeyer with CBS.
NANTZ: Well, Ohlmeyer was the executive producer of NBC Sports when I was a college sophomore, and along with my roommates, the ones we’ve mentioned earlier, all professional golfers later to become, we marched out to the Houston Open on a school day, and there was the NBC compound and they all said, ‘Hey, you ought to go ask him for a job.’ They knew, of course, I had this crazy dream one day I was going to work golf television or work sports for CBS, and I went over to the security guard and asked for Don Ohlmeyer to please come out, I’d like to have a word with him, the guy says, ‘May I ask him who wants to speak to him?’ ‘Yeah, tell him Jim Nantz is here to see him.’ About five minutes later here comes Don Ohlmeyer with the security guard, ‘I’m sorry, I’m looking for Jim Nantz?’ Suddenly, I realized I’m kind of in the middle of a bad college prank, but I introduced him to my roommates, and he said, ‘How can I help you?’ and I explained I was on the golf team and I wanted to one day carve out a career in his field and is there any employment available this weekend? ‘What do you have in mind?’ And one of the guys blurted out, ‘He wants to be an announcer.’ Well, he chuckled, ‘We have all the announcers we need this weekend, but I’ll tell you what, the compound’s out here at 17, the announcers have to park up by the clubhouse. I could get you a job if you would volunteer. I can’t pay anything. You could drive the announcers, shuttle them from the parking lot to the compound and to their towers for the broadcast. Would you be interested in doing that?’ Would I be interested in doing that? I figured if I couldn’t be on the air, you know, hanging out with the announcers had to be the second biggest job, so that got me really my ‘in’ to be honest. The next week I did go work for them again up at the Byron Nelson tournament and that was my start. I started calling radio stations and got work off of that.
RUSH: See, now here’s another life lesson which is what you said sports has taught you and what really still holds your interest today. You’ve mentioned luck, a number of times today in discussing your career, but luck is where preparation meets opportunity, and whether it was a prank or not, you went up and asked for it.
NANTZ: Yes, absolutely right, there is something about persistence or perseverance or just thinking out of a box a little bit, and you’re right, ‘luck’ often is the wrong word, good fortune maybe is a better description. I have a friend that plays with you out at the AT&T, Don Lucas, and he one time told me that I need to drop the luck thing a little bit and talk more about fortune, because, you know, you do get these moments of fate, and then what are you going to do with them? You know, it’s like, Rush, I know you’ve talked about this many times, but take 41 for example, 41 has this friendship that develops with President Clinton through all their efforts for tsunami relief over in southeast Asia, and later Katrina relief. Well, he calls me up one year at the Final Four in St. Louis and says, ‘Hey, Jimmy, I have a favor I need to ask.’ Now, I know through experience that when President Bush, Sr., says he’s got a favor to ask, that means he’s about to lay the biggest favor in the world on you. So, ‘Sure, sir, how can I help you?’ He said, ‘Well, you know, I’ve been traveling around the world here with President Clinton. We’ve decided we want to do something that’s never been done before. We want to have like just a social get-together, and we don’t want the media to know about it, and I just want to make sure that President Clinton has a good time. I don’t want this thing to be political. I don’t want to talk about world issues. My favor I’m asking, would you consider being our intermediary?’ Well, you know, you can assign me to go call a Super Bowl or host the Olympics or the Masters, what have you, but to think that the first time they had this social setting for two days —
RUSH: Was at Kennebunkport, right? Walker’s Point.
NANTZ: Yeah, Walker’s Point. To think that my father would have been aware of this, this would have been something that he would have been most proud of, the fact that this was history in fact, that these two would get together for a quasi-vacation, that his son was the hand-chosen intermediary between two presidents and got invited back again the next year and the year after that, well, my goodness, in his eyes that would have been his son’s greatest accomplishment.
RUSH: And, you know, in addition to all this, you’re really a great friend because you permitted yourself to be in the photo. You let them put you in the picture. You got it in your book. I think you’re out on the president’s boat.
NANTZ: Well, you know, the second year President Bush called back for another favor and said, ‘You know, we need a fourth this year to play golf. I want it to be really fun for President Clinton. Do you have any ideas? I don’t want anybody to travel too far to come here. Listen, you got a lot of friends, anybody close by?’ I said, ‘How about Tom Brady?’ He said, ‘You mean the New England Patriots quarterback?’ I said, ‘Well, yes, sir, he’s just 90 miles down the road in Foxboro, he’s a good golfer, I’ve got his number, good friend, I think he’d come up.’ ‘Do you really think Tom Brady would come up here and play golf with us?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, sir, let’s see, President Bush, President Clinton, I kind of like our chances.’ He said, ‘Well, then Jimmy, by all means invite him.’ So we got Tom Brady to come up the next year. We had a glorious day of golf. We played sixes where everybody got to play with one another and switch the bags around so you rode for six holes and I’m here to report to you the results, okay?
NANTZ: Bush-Brady defeated Nantz-Clinton one up. Bush-Nantz played Clinton-Brady to a draw.
RUSH: Yeah, but Brady is a scratch.
NANTZ: He is. He shot 73 on the day. Now, the last six holes as Brady puts his bag on the cart to ride with me the final six holes, I turned to him and said, ‘Now look, Tom, you’ve won three Super Bowls, that’s all well and good, but there have been other guys who have won Super Bowls, okay? You have a chance now to do something truly historic here,’ and he’s kind of laughing, giggling, ‘What’s that?’ ‘Never in the history of our country have two former presidents, one of whom defeated the other, ever partnered up on a golf course to take on just, you know, two guys off the street. We have a chance to make history here today.’ Well, suddenly, you know, there was a perceptible change in Tom’s gaze. He suddenly looked like that quarterback on those rare occasions trying to lead his team down the field when the Patriots are trailing in the fourth quarter, and we defeated Bush-Clinton over the last six holes, five up. As we’re coming up the 18th, Clinton looks over at us, slump shouldered and rasps, ‘Boy, you guys sure don’t take it easy on a couple of old presidents, do ya?’ And I responded, ‘Welcome to the National Football League, Mr. President.’
RUSH: ‘Couple of guys off the street.’ Okay, look, I have to take a break. I’m a little long. I got one more question to ask.
RUSH: Do you have time for it?
RUSH: Jim Nantz, Always by My Side is the book, A Father’s Grace and a Sports Journey Unlike Any Other. Be right back.
RUSH: Back to our final moments with Jim Nantz, whose new book is out, already on the New York Times best-seller list, Always By My Side — that doesn’t mean don’t get it, I’m just telling you how widely, popularly received it already has been, Always By My Side: A Father’s Grace and a Sports Journey Unlike Any Other. Jim, just a couple minutes here. You have a unique ability here to keep your childlike appreciation for what you do despite all of these people that you have met. And, by the way, I got e-mails from people saying: ‘Jim Nantz for president.’
NANTZ: (laughing) I like the sound of that, Rush. I’d like to talk about politics because I would love to one day maybe even think about it. Go ahead.
RUSH: Okay. The real question I want to know here is tell us something about Tiger Woods. And I’ve got one broadcasting question after that, tell us something about Tiger Woods we don’t know.
NANTZ: Well, Tiger, you see the game face. You know the focus stories about how he’s locked in and how he can walk right past a guy like Jack Nicklaus, the very man he wants to, you know, break every record that Jack holds. It’s just part of this genius that his father instilled in him. I one time got him beyond the game face, if you will, he was coming up into my tower to be interviewed, he graciously accepted, and my daughter, Caroline, was just five years old at the time, and she was all excited, she was going to meet the great Tiger Woods, and I told Tiger on the way up to the towers, we’re climbing the steps, ‘My daughter Caroline is going to be up there. She just can’t wait to meet you, Tiger.’ So we walk in, and everyone is pointing, and they’re pointing underneath the chair. So I get it, she’s playing kind of a hide-and-seek thing here and she’s just nervous as all kids are about meeting some superstar celebrity.
So Tiger instantly breaks into, you know, ‘the game.’ He drops his voice down to like a childlike cadence and he’s saying, ‘I thought I was going to see Caroline up here. This is why I came here. Caroline, where are you? Are you over here?’ pushes back some curtains, ‘No, she’s not there,’ being very theatrical about it all the while knowing she’s curled up in a ball underneath this one given chair. Goes to another place, ‘Are you here? No.’ Gets down on all fours and crawls over to the chair, ‘Oh, there you are, peekaboo, I’m Tiger. Come on out; let’s play. I wanted to meet you.’ And I just thought, what a wonderful snapshot of Tiger Woods, the Tiger we so seldom get to see because everybody in the world’s trying to get into that world and trying to be a part of his universe, and it was just a lovely impromptu moment.
RUSH: Jim, you’ve led a remarkable life. You have one of the most solid foundations that a human being could have. I think it’s fabulous that you’ve written the book to share that with people, because it’s inspirational. You have been fabulous in this hour. I thank you so much for the time, looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday out at Torrey Pines. Have a wonderful weekend, and, again, wish we had more time ’cause I got people still wanting to know if you had to get rid of your Connecticut accent. I’ll find out about that and I’ll tell ’em next week whatever you tell me, but again thanks for the time and all the best.
NANTZ: I’m so grateful, Rush, for the time to talk to you, and you’re just a great friend. Thanks so much for having me on today.
RUSH: You bet. Jim Nantz, Always by My Side. You’ve just heard maybe about 30 pages of this book in this interview just now.