With new contract, Mike Gorman gets a break in the action
When the Celtics take a road trip, most of the time Mike Gorman will make it.
His new three-year contract extension, which he announced Wednesday on the Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” show, does allow for the only Celtics television voice a generation or two of fans has ever known to miss a grind of a trip here and there.
“I completely understood with Tommy [Heinsohn] three or four years ago that he didn’t want to deal with Hanscom Air Force Base at 3:30 in the morning anymore when it’s snowing outside,’’ said Gorman, referring to his longtime broadcast partner’s own more drastic reduction in schedule. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘I’m going to be coming to the conclusion before too long.’ ”
Gorman actually missed the most recent road trip, which took the Celtics to Atlanta, Dallas, and New Orleans. Gorman last called a game Nov. 21, the debacle of a loss to the Knicks, but he returns Friday night when the Green are back at the Garden to face the Cavaliers.
Gorman, who has called Celtics games since 1981, said NBC Sports Boston management approached him recently, even with a year left on his contract, about an extension.
“In the process, they asked me if I would entertain the idea of taking off some of the harder road trips,” said Gorman, “which has appealed to me for years.”
Gorman turned 73 last week.
“I can’t tell you how many times my birthday, or Thanksgiving, was spent on planes,” he said.
“So when I first looked at the schedule and saw three games in four nights in three different cities, I thought, ‘Well that’s the first place I’d like to take a break.’ ”
Kyle (Bang-Bang-Bang) Draper filled in for Gorman on the road trip. But Gorman said he doesn’t expect to miss more than four or five games per year.
“I won’t do the West Coast trip,” he said, referencing a journey to California in which the Celtics will face the Warriors, Kings, Lakers, and Clippers from March 5-11. “But three of the games are on network television, so we won’t be doing those anyway. So by taking the other off, I get a week off in essence in March.”
Gorman’s slight alteration in schedule shouldn’t be taken as a sign of weariness with the gig. He did just sign a three-year contract.
“I do love it,’’ he said. “My relationship with Tommy is special. He’s like my big brother, going on almost 40 years now. We’ve probably had two disagreements in all these years, and neither lasted long.
“It’s been unique to work with someone as unique as Tommy, as funny as Tommy, and to see the game the way he sees it. And it’s nice that if you’re spending 2½ hours with someone, you know they’re going to make you laugh a couple of times.”
Gorman said he also enjoys working with Brian Scalabrine, who is the color analyst when Heinsohn is off.
“Scal is very good,’’ said Gorman. “I think Scal is very different form Tommy. He’s much more a today’s X-and-O type of guy who wants to talk about high pick-and-rolls and pin-downs, where Tommy is more like, ‘Box out! Just get in there and box somebody out! Put a body on somebody!’
“It’s two different approaches to the game, and it’s fun for me.
“I couldn’t be happier. I have two guys that I respect that I work with, a super young coach who is as personable as any I’ve been around, and I get to still do play-by-play while getting to take the long trips off?”
Gorman laughs. “I have no complaints at all.”
MLB tells Eck’s story
Though sometimes it seems as though the Ken Burns “Baseball” documentary runs in its entirety every few days, MLB Network does an excellent job during the offseason of putting together interesting original programming.
This certainly qualifies. The network will premiere “Eck: A Story of Saving” on Dec. 13 at 8 p.m. as part of its “MLB Network Presents” series. The film, which runs an hour long, details the perseverance of Hall of Fame pitcher and current Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley on and off the field.
Topics that are covered include his rookie season with the 1975 Indians (the first of his 24 MLB seasons), the trade to the Red Sox in ’78 as his first marriage was falling apart, his decision to seek treatment for alcohol abuse while with the ’86 Cubs, and the move to the bullpen with the ’88 A’s.
Eckersley, who was filmed on stage at the Cabot Theater in Beverly for his interviews, of course also talks about the legendary home run he gave up to the Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
“I threw him a back-door slider that I’ve been living with for 30 years, man,” says Eckersley. “That was one of the toughest nights of my life. It was one of the greatest moments in baseball history. I’ll take what happened in my career for that moment in a heartbeat.”
I’ve seen a clip but not the full screener yet, and the most compelling part of the documentary could be the ever-candid Eckersley’s detailing of his path to sobriety and finding true comfort with who he is.
I’m curious to see how they fit all of Eckersley’s remarkable story into just an hour. He could be his own mini-series.
The Red Sox championship film, “The 2018 World Series: Damage Done,” will premiere Monday at the Emerson Colonial Theatre, then will be available on DVD and blu-ray the following day. The film is produced by MLB Network. NESN is not producing its own championship documentary.