Interview: Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow discuss their new book, “The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies”

BY SHAY RODDY

Who doesn’t love a good sports movie? I doubt you’ll find anyone who honestly says they don’t. But, I can almost guarantee you you’ll find plenty of folks who get sick of the genre after watching awful movie, after awful movie with minimal sports action and cutesy come from behind cliches.

If only there was a way to know which were the ones worth watching and which we shouldn’t waste our time on.

Now, there is. From Hall of Fame sportswriter, six-time Emmy Award winner and analyst on Eagles Post-Game Live, Ray Didinger and the popular host of The Mid-Day Show on Sportsradio 610 WIP and author of three best-selling sports books, Glen Macnow, comes The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies, featuring the 100 greatest sports films of all time.

I’m not paid to say this. This is unsolicited fact. This book is truly worth buying and reading. Whether you use it as a reference to learn more about your favorite movie, as an enlightening tool to open your eyes to a brand new group of sports movies, or as an instigator for debate amongst your lunch room friends, The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies is a book every sports and/or movie fan MUST own.

I got the pleasure to meet the authors and briefly discuss the book with them the other day and then the honor of getting to talk further about this great book last night. Here’s my conversation with Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow about the greatest sports films ever created.

SHAY RODDY: How do you go about beginning the process of finding the best sports movie?

RAY DIDINGER: Glen and I each did our own top 100, then we compared lists. They were very similar. We had most of the same films near the top. It was just a matter of talking it over and deciding on the final order.

SHAY: Glen, sports has always been a part of your show on WIP, with the Movie Club for Men. What’s the importance of sports movies to you?

GLEN MACNOW: Well, I’ve been an addict of sports movies since I was a kid. And they relate to the games we watch. Who hasn’t gone to a baseball game, seen a pitcher throw a wild pitch and quote Bob Uecker from “Major league” – “Just a bit outside.” Or gone golfing with buddies and used every line “Caddyshack.” Next to the actual events, nothing’s better than a good sports movie.

SHAY: How many movies did you screen for the book? What was the worst movie you came across during your “research”?

GLEN: We watched somewhere near 300 movies – great onces, decent ones and some real stinkers. A few bad ones that stand out – “Summer Catch,” a look at Cape Cod League baseball; “The Fan,” with DeNiro and Wesley Snipes, and every version of “The babe Ruth Story.” Oh, and “Caddyshack 2.” Just putrid.

SHAY: No one will agree with your list, if they do they’re lying. Everyone’s going to have a beef somewhere. Is watching the discussion and controversy you sparked the most fun part of writing the book?

RAY: That’s part of it, certainly. We knew the book would spark debate and it has. But I also like it when someone says, “I never heard of this movie until I read about it in your book. I have to check it out.” It’s nice to know we’e introducing people to really good sports films they might otherwise never see.

SHAY: Everyone knows the same, popular sports movies, but if you asked people to list 100, most couldn’t do it. What’s the best “unknown” sports movie?

GLEN: One that we loved that one has has seen is called “The Rocket,” which is a bio of the great Montreal Canadien Maurice Richard. It’s a Canadian movie that came and went before anyone saw it, but it’s a great story well told, and really presents a fascinating view of the NHL – and the world – in the 1950s.

SHAY: What do you look for when judging and ranking a sports movie?

RAY: We had several criteria. One, it has to be a powerful story with believable three-dimensional characters. It needs to have top-flight sports action. It must have at least one scene that sends shivers down your back or raises a lump in your throat. It should be realistic, but not too much. We like movies that allow us to stretch our imagination.

SHAY: Along those lines, Glen are you a sucker for feel good stories, or is there a certain appreciation to be had for movies that don’t necessarily end with a walk-off homer?

GLEN: Well, we’re all suckers for a happy ending, and look how many of the great movies have them – Hoosiers, The Natural, Miracle, Remember the Titans. But a lot of great movies don’t end with everyone living happily ever after. Remember, the end of “Bull Durham” has the hero getting cut from the team. And, hey, don’t forget, Rocky loses the fight in the original movie.

SHAY: Alright, Ray, the final, most obvious question- what is the greatest sports movie of all time?

RAY: We agreed on Rocky. It met all the criteria listed above. Start with a great script by Sylvester Stallone. The characters are interesting. Rocky, Adrian, Paulie, Mick, Apollo Creed. Even secondary characters like Gazzo the mobster add a nice layer of grit to the proceedings. The fight scenes are terrific and when Rocky gallops up the Art Museum steps to the chorus of “Gonna Fly Now,” it is guaranteed to give you goosebumps. It’s a wonderful movie and the favorite of a number of well-known athletes, including Tim Tebow, Ryan Braun and Nomar Garciaparra.

Thanks to Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow for their time! If you want a chance to meet and chat with them while picking up a signed, personalized copy of The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies, the best thing to do is to head to an upcoming signing. Here’s a list:

Friday, December 11:        Barnes & Noble, 7-9 p.m.
2300 Chemical Rd., Plymouth Meeting, PA

Saturday, December 12:    Barnes & Noble, 4-6 p.m.
1271 Knapp Rd., North Wales, PA

Thursday, December 17:     Barnes & Noble, 7-9 p.m.
200 West Route 70, Marlton, NJ

Friday, December 18:        Barnes & Noble, 7-9 p.m.
210 Commerce Blvd., Fairless Hills, PA
(Super Signing with other local authors)

Saturday, Dec. 19:               Barnes & Noble. 5-7 p.m.
Exton, PA
(Super Signing with other local authors)

RESCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY DEC. 22, 7-9 PM

Wednesday, Dec. 23:          Barnes & Noble, 6-9 p.m.
Willow Grove, PA
(Super Signing with other local authors)

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2 Comments

Filed under Interview, Shay Roddy

2 responses to “Interview: Ray Didinger and Glen Macnow discuss their new book, “The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies”

  1. Good stuff. I look forward to finding that book in my stocking this year.

  2. Vicks doghouse

    I fucking love those two!!!

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