Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bob Page: The Rebel Without A Pause Who Made It In New York

They trudged off to the Big Apple to make their names bigger, and came back with their tails between their legs: Bill Bonds, Eli Zaret, Bernie Smilovitz -- even Rob Parker. With the exception of Bonds, most of the above -- and the others who tried and failed -- played by the rules in Detroit, never upsetting their bosses or getting fired or rubbing team officials the wrong way.

Not Bob Page. He didn't play by the rules, and he pissed some people off. Got him fired a time or two.

But Page, who most notably worked at channel 7 in the 70's and 80's before switching to cable, left Detroit for New York and actually made it -- big time. I always thought it was delicious that rabblerouser Page should make it in New York while the straight-laced guys went kapoot.

Page became a big shot at MSG Network, usually handling Rangers and Knicks intermissions, along with some reporting and studio work during sportscasts. In Detroit, he angered channel 7 enough to get himself fired, and he was no favorite among Lions officials for his remarks about the team and even the play-by-play offered to the media (not to be confused with radio for the fans) in the press box. Page felt it was too slanted toward the home team; not objective, the way press box play-by-play should be.

He was also kicked out of Billy Martin's office once.

I ran into Page last night at the NFL Media Party XXVI at the Fox Theatre. We got to know each other late in his Detroit career -- circa 1986-87 -- when I was producing and directing cable TV shows and Page ran his "SportsView" show on our station. His co-host on "SportsView"? The inimitable Ron Cameron, who's an entire blog posting by himself.

"Yeah, I was one of them who made it (in New York)," Page said.

I told him about Motor City Sports Magazine, and how we're still trying to get a platform beneath us.

"You have to have deep pockets," Page said, "but I hope it works. It's a great idea."

Page is mostly retired now, in Florida. I asked him about ole Acid Al -- Al Ackerman. Anyone older than 30 will remember Ackerman's acerbic sportscasts. Now THAT'S a dude who ticked some people off.

"I had lunch with Al a couple years ago," Page told me. "He's doing well. He walks with a cane now but he's doing well."

Page was cut in the mold of Ackerman, but maybe not quite as confrontational. I remember the following exchange between Ackerman and Lions coach Joe Schmidt, circa 1971-72, in training camp:

Ackerman: So you need another linebacker or two, don't you?
Schmidt: We do?
Ackerman: Don't you think?
Schmidt: You got one for us?
Ackerman: That's not my job, that's yours
Schmidt: You gonna find us a linebacker, Al?
Ackerman: Don't get upset, I'm just telling you that it's obvious you need another linebacker
Schmidt: And where am I going to find one, Al?

Ahh, they don't make sports heads on TV like that anymore, do they?

Bob Page said he'd like to move back to Detroit someday, but his personal situation right now might not allow it.

That's okay, Pager -- you did just fine out of the Motor City.

7 comments:

Big Al said...

I have not heard Bob Page mentioned in eons. Hearing his name takes me back to the early days of Detroit sports talk. Locally, he was a man ahead of his time. I follwed Page and Ron Cameron around both the radio and TV dials.

Al Ackerman used to be must see tv. He was never a mouthpiece for the local teams. To think that the lame shenanigans of Bernie Smilovitz replaced him... His "Video Arcade" crap is...Well, I can't say it in polite society.

Didn't Ackerman's "Bless you Boys" line start out as a sarcastic diss of the Tigers? It somehow morphed into a rallying cry, if I'm remebering correctly.

josh b. said...

Question: Would there have been a Bob Page post without a visit to the Media Party? I guess we'll never know.

Greg Eno said...

Ummm..considering I hadn't seen him in 15 years prior to last night, I doubt it. But seeing him again brought back some cool memories!

Eno

Ian C. said...

Bob Page is a weekly regular on WTKA's morning show, and every time he's on, I wonder how many listeners remember who he is. He's a tad out of touch with the local scene, but that's to be expected. And he makes up for that with good stories, interesting insight, and strong opinions.

But I agree with Big Al; Page (and Cameron and Ackerman) were ahead of their time. How would they have thrived in today's culture, with two sports talk radio stations in this town, a "local" sports TV network (FOX Sports Detroit), internet forums available to anyone (Hello!), and local newscasts reduced to fluff?

captjach said...

Ron Cameron! AHH!!! I knew him well.
I was his producer in the mid to late 90's.
Let's just say Ron is unique...an "individual"
who knew everybody. Bob Page was a guest
on Ron's show often and I found him to be
bright and professional. Ron? Well, he's Ron...
...a guy with no socks :)

eddie lee said...

Cool to read this... Bob Page was hilarious when he hosted the sports desk for the Knicks and Rangers in the early '90s. Back when the Knicks were something other than the sad joke they've been for the last 11 years. Perfect guy to be doing a local sports desk in New York. Wish tv was like that now.

Anonymous said...

Fired by lions, for calling them pathetic loins. not a homer like frank beckman