Ken Brett was certainly a talented baseball player. Peter Gammons, in a column he did for ESPN.com, wrote that a few years ago he asked the late Joe Stephenson, a respected baseball scout, to name the best prospect he ever saw.
"Kemer Brett," Stephenson told Gammons. (Kemer, his real name, is what those close to Brett called him.)
According to Stephenson, Brett could have played any position. The Boston Red Sox, who drafted him in 1966, made him a pitcher because he had a strong left arm and the team was desperate for pitching.
"Kemer was a combination of [his brother] George, Fred Lynn and Roger Maris," Gammons quoted Stephenson as saying.
However, in Southern California, Brett, who died at 55 Wednesday, may be better remembered as a baseball announcer.
He started with the Angels on radio in 1987, then worked Angel telecasts from 1991 to '96.
He had done some television commentating for the Seattle Mariners before coming to the Angels but had zero experience doing play by play. However, by June of his first season, Brett was thrust into a play-by-play role.
He wasn't very good, and we wrote as much. Did Brett complain about the criticism? Hardly. It was exactly the opposite. He admitted he was raw, and had some fun with it. He'd feign anger, then have a good laugh.
Brett laughed a lot. He smiled a lot. He also worked at his craft and became a first-rate baseball announcer. He'd always been a first-rate human being.
"You can't think of Ken Brett without smiling," said former Angel radio announcer Al Conin, who is now retired and living in Mission Viejo. "He had that kind of effect on everybody he came in contact with."
Conin is right. The news that Brett had lost his 5 1/2-year battle with brain cancer was indeed sad, but the thought of the many conversations and all the good-natured kidding does bring a smile.
Doc Is In
Rivers was fired, and Thursday ABC named him its new lead NBA analyst.
"Doc is absolutely the right fit," said ABC Sports executive producer Mike Pearl.
ABC also announced that Michele Tafoya will return as the lead sideline reporter.
Rivers was a commentator for TNT for three seasons after his 13-year NBA career ended in 1996 and recently had talks with TNT. But because TNT's announcing lineup is set, it could not offer him a prominent role.
Rivers played 59 games for the Clippers during the 1991-92 season and did some talk radio in L.A. at the time. We recall having a golf date with Rivers back then because he wanted to talk about broadcasting. But the day we were scheduled to play, the Clippers' Joe Safety called to say, "Golf is off; Doc has been traded to the Knicks."
Keyshawn to Visit Fox
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may not want Keyshawn Johnson, but Fox does. Johnson was invited to be a guest analyst on Sunday's NFL pregame show, and coordinating producer Scott Ackerson didn't rule out using him more.
"We've used him in the past, we're using him in the present, and we'll use him in the future," Ackerson said.
Johnson will be asked to comment on his situation as well other topics. In one of the features planned for Sunday, Jimmy Johnson interviews Bob Knight about Bill Parcells. In another, Terry Bradshaw interviews Brett Favre, whose team beat the Buccaneers last weekend.
Because it is the 100th meeting between Ohio State and Michigan on Saturday, ABC asked Keith Jackson to venture east to announce that game.
So he and partner Dan Fouts are, as Jackson says, "going over the mountain" to work the 9 a.m. ABC national telecast.
Meanwhile, Brad Nessler and Bob Griese will be at the Coliseum for the ABC regional telecast of UCLA-USC at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Oklahoma-Texas Tech is one of the three other ABC regional telecasts at 12:30. But don't expect ABC to switch off UCLA-USC, no matter what the score.
Loren Matthews, the ABC executive who makes such decisions, said, "I may be the most hated man in Kansas."
On Saturday, he decided to switch from Kansas State-Nebraska with 1:37 left and the score 38-7 to go to Ohio State-Purdue.
He said Kansas was a protected area for the Kansas State game, as is Los Angeles for UCLA-USC.
"In my nine years at ABC, I've only taken protected markets out of a game twice -- last weekend being the second time," Matthews said. "And both times people wanted to hang me."
It's Called Plagiarism
Part-time sports radio talk show host Dave Smith was fired by XTRA in March 2002 because of an obscenity-laced column that ran on a Web site he controls.
That Web site has gotten Smith in trouble again. It recently contained a column with no byline except "The Mole" that read, in part, word for word like a column by Steve Zipay of New York Newsday. Neither Zipay nor his newspaper was given any attribution.
A former New Yorker who regularly reads Newsday online and also reads Smith's Web site discovered the plagiarism.
Smith, who in 2002 blamed a colleague, Steve Carbone, for the obscenity-laced column, this time is blaming a writer he declined to name. He said that writer, who was not salaried, has been fired.
"I can't check every newspaper column in the country," Smith said.
Zipay said he got a call from Smith, who apologized. Zipay, chuckling at the thought, said Smith offered him some air time on the station he now works for, KMPC (1540), to make amends. As if that would square things.
"I was stunned," Zipay said.
Oscar De La Hoya's 2-year-old promotions company, Golden Boy, is staging its first pay-per-view show Saturday at the Olympic Auditorium. The $29.95 card, featuring super bantamweights Oscar Larios and Napapol Kiattisakchocchoi, begins at 6 p.m. and is available in English and Spanish on HBO pay per view. The English announcers will be Mario Solis of Channel 4 and Raul Marquez. Bernardo Osuna will handle the Spanish blow by blow.
A key member of Golden Boy Promotions is 75-year-old matchmaker Don Chargin, who works with Eric Gomez. Chargin, who has been in the fight game since 1945, was the Olympic's matchmaker in its heyday, 1964 to '84, when he was known to Jim Healy listeners as "War a Week" Chargin.
A decision from the Angels on the future of television commentator Rex Hudler is expected early next week. A source indicated that Hudler, who was arrested on suspicion of marijuana possession late last season and subsequently suspended, will be retained.... Fox Sports Net is expected to announce next week that Lisa Leslie will work some USC men's basketball games as a commentator.... Laker radio announcer Joel Meyers will miss Sunday's game against Memphis because of an NFL radio commitment. So Larry Burnett will handle the play-by-play and A. Martinez will handle the pre- and post-game shows.
The Raiders will be back on Channel 2 on Sunday, and maybe that's a good thing. The station gave us Denver-San Diego last Sunday and it was a stinker. The Broncos won, 38-7, and the game got only a 3.2 rating. CBS couldn't switch off the Broncos and Chargers because network officials in New York weren't set up to do that.