December 6, 2010 by staff
Howard Cosell, Art Berke hung out with Howard Cosell, cavorting with beautiful and charming models posing for the famous question Sports Illustrated swimsuit in February and press releases written for the former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.
For a man who has worked in sports his entire professional career, mingling with senior executives and athletes, his favorite time is much less complicated than the time he spent with the rich and famous over the years.
The photo says it all. His father, Seymour, a department head retired store in Hammond, is standing next to Art son, wearing a green vintage 1934 White Sox jacket. Art is wearing a 1959 “Go-Go” Sox black and red jacket to the cell during the 2005 World Series.
Berke lives and works in the New York area. A long time. But Berke has never lost his Midwestern sensibility infused in him when he was young, first in the region of East Chicago’s Harbor and later in the article by Gary Miller. Nor has her love affair with the White Sox never wavered.
“It was a dream to go with my father to a White Sox game,” he said. “He was in poor health, and it was not very good. I had to convince him to come with me. I can tell you are my greatest asset. It means so much to me. ”
Seymour is better now, still living in Munster, rooting for the White Sox. Berke and is still in New York, working in the field of sports while demanding and capricious document everything that happens with the Sox, sometimes twice a day on his “art of the Pale Hose” blog.
It’s autumn in a remarkable career as Berke sport in public relations, but he still goes to the trouble. He retired from Sports Illustrated in 2007 after a run of 20 years as vice president of public relations, to take a job running the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center. Last spring, Berke left the museum to work with a company developing online career that allows creating programs for colleges that have majors in sports. Berke graduated from Wirt in 1967.
“For a child of Gary, Indiana, who had no contact,” said Berke. “I had a rewarding career working at the highest level of the sports industry.”
The irony of seeing the finish line in sight he was working for a company online is that Berke’s career has been shaped in the old style, where there was no such thing as electronic media.
This network, took a break or two, worked hard he was and was not afraid to make a move. There was no Internet or Google and Monster.com to help you move forward when Berke began.
Climbing is a matter of making good personal contacts and working hard when the opportunity came your way. Berke first big break came at Indiana University where he worked at the Indiana Daily Student. He was at football practice one day in 1969 when he noticed that none of the 14 black players were there. It turns out that black players, the feeling of racial tension in the time, coach John Pont, boycotted practice that day.
Berke wrote the story. He broke out nationally. Soon, Bob Collins, the athletic director at the Indianapolis Star, called and offered him a job after graduating in 1971. He left for a brief stay in New York working for a football magazine owned by legendary boxing guru Bert Sugar. Then, Berke answered an ad in The New York Times compiling 50 short biographies of great athletes from the Library of Lincoln Encyclopedias. This work took him to Columbus, Ohio. Berke biggest break came when he went to a seminar on how to break into baseball.
Berke connected with the owner of a minor league team that was put on the seminar. A few weeks later, he received a call from the commissioner’s office, asking if he was interested in a job as assistant public relations. He jumped at the chance to go to New York and trembled a little when he appeared on the first day and they told him he was sitting in the office of old Ford Frick.
It was an exciting, tumultuous time in baseball. Free agency was in its infancy and the pendulum of power had swung between the owners and the powerful union led by Marvin Miller. There was always a crisis in the corner, and Berke quickly learned how to deal with the stage ultra-competitive New York newspaper.
“It was very difficult and good education,” he said. Berke left that job for a gig PR ABC television, where he worked with Cosell, advertising “SportsBeat,” a topical issue, hitting sports weekly.
Berke called a pompous Cosell, sporty front-of-its-time, which often made his own news, and a “great guy.”
The show, which was canceled after three seasons but has won three Emmy Awards, was a sidelight to other jobs Cosell as a broadcaster for “Monday Night Football” and all major sporting events has been ABC broadcasting.
Cosell was bigger than some of the great athletes he covered at the time. It could be tough and demanding, but he also had a softer side.
Berke said one of his favorite moments came when Cosell Cosell asked him to return to New York after a game of Monday Night Football in his Lear jet (part of the contract Cosell) who waited after the game.
Berke father had been dealing with some health problems. When they arrived on the plane, Cosell asked him how his father did.
“I had no idea he knew he was sick,” said Berke. “It was the first time we’ve had a personal conversation.”
From there he was at Sports Illustrated, which Berke called his “dream job.” His job included overseeing the publicity for the swimsuit issue, handling media requests and marketing a variety of special events. Along the way he has written eight books – everything from a children’s book to a sports biography of Babe Ruth fast.
For a sports-mad child of Gary, the trip was fun too.
Berke still gets home every other month or two to see Seymour and his mother, Eve.
He is eternally grateful he did for the game 2005 World Series with his father.
In 1959, Seymour had a pair of tickets to the World Series. Both son and father were supposed to go. Dad had to work so they could not do it.
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