Harris: We welcome back the star of the Maury Povich Show, live from New York, our old friend Maury Povich. Good morning, Maury.
Povich: Hi Paul, how are you?
Harris: I’m doing just fine.
Povich: How’s the weather? This is important.
Harris: It is a beautiful day here today. Good golf day.
Povich: Everybody at Woodmont Country Club, watch out, I’m coming!
Harris: Are you coming here today?
Povich: I’m coming down today to help a friend of mine, Herb Brubaker, who has some big news anchor seminar at the University of Maryland tomorrow. So I’m going to come down and help.
Harris: That’s one of the things we want to talk to you about, but golf is the other one. When was it you were the champion at Woodmont?
Povich: I’m the defending champion. For two straight years.
Harris: What is the best you’ve ever shot?
Povich: I’ll tell you, I had a match last year in the 36-hole final with a great young player named Jason Eig. I won one up after 36 holes and I was one-over-par for the entire 36. It was a grueling match. I’m to the point where I’m about to retire. [laughs]
Harris: A lot of people don’t know that Tiger Woods drives the ball, I think he averages 323 yards. Maury’s still shooting for that, he only drives 305 yards.
Povich: Oh yeah, sure. I played with Tiger a couple of months ago at the AT&T, at a practice round.
Harris: What’s that like?
Povich: Well, you just have to eat your ego. You have to understand. Good professional players will out-drive me 30 to 40 yards and Tiger out-drove me — I stepped it off — on the fly, 75 yards.
Harris: Man, oh, man.
Povich: 75 yards! On one par 3, which is about 210 yards, he hit a five iron and I hit my five WOOD! [laughs] I said, “Well, at least I hit the same number!”
Harris: What was your reaction when you watched him play in the Masters?
Povich: So thrilled! I think everybody was, both those who play golf and those who don’t play golf. I was mesmerized by it. I don’t think there was a person in the house who didn’t have a teary eyed face after Tiger hugged his father at the end. My wife, who doesn’t play golf — but has to watch me watch golf — she was in tears.
Harris: It really was a moving moment. What do you think this means for the future of the sport?
Povich: I think it’s going to be great. It’s going to bring more people into the sport and it’s going to bring people into the sport the right way. I think golf had a bad rap, although somewhat justifiable, in that it has always been a game of the leisure class. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. Just to see these little features on newscasts all over the country about going into the inner city, seeing kids now beginning to putt and chip and learn about golf. I think it’s great.
Harris: Look, temper your excitement, if just a little bit, for me, the guy who plays on the public golf course. Because I was out there the other day and all these kids were out, and it’s great that they’re getting into it, but could they learn a little bit how to hit the ball?
Povich: Oh, they will.
Harris: When you’re on the putting green and you get hit in the shins, Maury?
Povich: Oh, I understand. But they will, it will happen.
Harris: Let’s talk about this thing you’ve got going tomorrow. An all day seminar to teach people how to break into TV news?
Povich: Boy, is that going to be strange for me to be doing this. I’ve had more fights with management and news departments around the country over the last 20 years. Now, I’m supposed to be able to teach somebody how to handle it!?! [laughs]
Harris: The one thing people ask me is, “How do you get into the business?” The first thing I tell them is, “Get used to going into meetings, and you’re not going to walk out happy!”
Povich: [laughs] Exactly. The one thing that I found here when I talk to young people who want to get into news — some time ago I was at a place and I said what do you wanna do? And they said “I wanna be an anchor.” Well, good, I said, do you know what direction you want to take? You know you have to be a writer and a reporter and a gatherer of news and work your way up that way. And they said “No, No, No, I just wanna be an anchor.” Oh yeah, right. [laughs]
Harris: Oh yeah, that’s the entry level job.
Povich: It’s like you there, Paul, I don’t wanna sit there in a radio station, right, and work my way up from sweeping the broom and everything. I just wanna go on and spin the records and be a talk-meister.
Harris: That’s right. [laughs] Now will you be giving any of this advice to your son? Is he two yet?
Povich: He’s almost two. In fact he’s on his way to the studio right now, because we’re taping a show this morning with — believe it or not he already has a favorite guest — Jack Hanna and his animals.
Harris: Oh, really.
Povich: So, Matthew will be down here today taking a look at the animals, getting scared, crying, then running away.
Harris: What will you and Connie do when Matthew says, “I want to do what you do, Mommy and Daddy! I want to go in to TV??”
Povich: We’ll move out of the country. [laughs]
Harris: How is the lovely Connie doing?
Povich: She’s doing great. She’s a fellow up at Harvard. Here’s a University of Maryland graduate, and all of a sudden she gets a fellowship at Harvard. I don’t understand.
Harris: Very nice.
Povich: I mean I was rejected at Harvard. I don’t get it. Here she’s been out of work and she gets invited to study at Harvard for a semester. So she’s up there a couple of days a week and she’s taking care of Matthew and we’re getting ready to do this show next year, a year from the fall, fall of ’98. As my parents say — who are marvelous and alert and are great, and in fact my father was here in New York for the Jackie Robinson festivities yesterday — he says, “Will you get this show on the air soon? I don’t know how much time we have left!” [laughs]
Harris: Since you mentioned that, I’ve got to ask you about your dad, Shirley Povich, the legendary sportswriter, who still writes great stuff for the Post once in awhile.
Povich: I think the guys at the Post are happy to have him. He’s still writing great stuff. He wrote a terrific piece on Jackie Robinson a week or so ago and a great piece on Tony Zeale recently.
Harris: What has he told you personally about Jackie Robinson?
Povich: Well, I was 8 years old when Jackie broke in, and my father had written an award-winning 12-part series called No More Shut Outs for the Washington Post, which was back in the late forties. How the color line was so steadfast against blacks. He told me that Jackie Robinson was the most competitive athlete he had ever seen. And this guy, only Jackie Robinson, he tells a great story about when Branch Rickey said to Robinson, “Make the deal, and for two years you can’t say anything, you can’t do anything, against all the epithets that everyone is going to throw to you. You have to turn the other cheek.” And Robinson turned to Rickey and said, “Well, Mr. Rickey, I have two cheeks!”
Harris: Uh-huh. Great, great.
Povich: Well, it was all right.
Harris: What’s on your show today, do you know?
Povich: [to his staff] What’s on the show today, gang? [pause] Does anybody know what’s airing on our show today? [pause] Oh, I know what it was…very important subject…”Lured Away By The Internet.” All this stuff on the internet, trying to get these young girls to meet these losers on the internet and the next thing you know some of them are actually kidnapped and taken away.
Harris: Hey, Maury, it’s just my hobby. Don’t press me!
Povich: There you go. [laughs]
Harris: Listen, say hello to Connie for us.
Povich: I sure will, Paul. Thanks so much!
Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Nicci Murphy.