Costas and Crystal

With NBC covering the 2016 Summer Olympics, we’ll be seeing a lot of Bob Costas on TV, presumably without the conjunctivitis that plagued him during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
All the controversy over his enhanced wrinkle-free complexion (they say Botox injections caused the pink eye) and jet black hair aside, I really like Bob Costas. I just watched him on the Today Show and it conjured up fond memories of meeting him five years ago in Cooperstown, New York, and coming away thinking “what a sweet, sweet man.”
The occasion was a Baseball Hall of Fame event commemorating the 50th anniversary of Roger Maris’ record-breaking 61st home run in 1961. Costas and Billy Crystal hosted a special showing of Crystal’s movie 61* about the summer in which Maris and teammate Mickey Mantle raced neck and neck toward beating the 60 home run mark set by Babe Ruth in 1927. Also on hand was actor Thomas Jane who portrayed Mantle in the HBO film directed by Crystal.
As members of the Hall of Fame, my friend Mike Caputo and I received invitations and weren’t about to pass them up.
The evening began with a meet and greet in the Hall itself and that’s where we got to chat with Costas and Crystal. They could not have been more charming or more accommodating.
Despite an announcement of “no pictures,” Costas posed with everyone who asked. And just about everyone asked. Time was short, but he acted as though he had all day. He frequently told fans to check their digital cameras to see if they liked the shot. If not, he posed again.
Crystal was everything you’d expect. Fun and friendly and highly animated.
During the drive there Mike said a lot of people tell him he looks like Billy Crystal. Personally, I don’t see it. But when Billy posed for a photo with Mike, I couldn’t resist telling him, “Billy, people say my buddy looks like you.”
Crystal eyed Mike up and down and then said, “No, way. He looks nothing like me. In fact, he looks like Vince Lombardi. Stop being me,” he added, “go be Vince Lombardi.”
About an hour later as everyone took their seats in the auditorium for the showing of the movie, Crystal, standing on the stage and offering opening remarks, spotted Mike coming in and called attention to him. “Hey, everyone,” he said, pointing to Mike, “Vince Lombardi just walked in. How about a hand for Vince Lombardi.”
You don’t forget stuff like that.
And to the pundits who intend to spend the Olympics commenting on Costas’ appearance, I say, please lay off. He’s a good guy.

Ed Ackerman