There are so many things Phil Mushnick and I have in common. Beards. Devotion to our families. A deep appreciation for the Billy Joel canon. Judaism. But perhaps least surprising is that we’re each fans of David J. Halberstam’s “Sports On New York Radio : A Play By Play History”, a tome Phil calls “among the most relied upon books in my library.”
As you might imagine, the book’s author, a former Miami Heat broadcaster, probably fielded no shortage of calls this week upon the passing of Pulitzer winner David Halberstam (amazingly enough, writes Mushnick, a 5th cousin, as both men would later learn). And as Phil transcibes in Friday’s Post, such a mix-up could’ve once yielded some sexy results.
“Not that there should have ever been any confusion, not before, not now. For one thing, David was 73. I’m 55. And while we both had written sports books, I only wrote one.
“And he won a Pulitzer Prize. If I’d been the David Halberstam to win a Pulitzer, I’d have years ago made the distinction between the two of us very clear to everyone.
“I hate to have to think of David’s death in terms of what it means to me, about putting an end to a lot of confusion about our shared names. But, sadly, this should be the end of it.”
It was interesting while it lasted. Even the late David Halberstam, at dinner 18 months ago, told me that he’d occasionally be confused with David, the other.
There was always enough in the mix to mistake David Halberstam for David Halberstam.
David The Other, after all, is now the Executive VP of Westwood Radio Sports. Before that he was the radio voice of the Miami Heat, and before that the radio voice of St. John’s basketball, and before that the analyst on CUNY basketball radiocasts (Myron Rushetzky, the Post’s longtime City Desk traffic controller, was Halberstam’s stat man).
During the 1984-85 basketball season, Larry King’s USA Today column – those columns are still legendary for their colossally comical mistakes – noted that David Halberstam, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, was spending the winter calling St. John’s basketball games on WCBS radio.
And there was that night in 1977, when both Halberstams were single, and the phone rang in Halberstam The Other’s Manhattan apartment. “The woman’s voice on the other end was dreamy, the kind heard in a movie – ‘David, I just arrived in town, and I don’t have your address, and I so much want to see you.’
“That was a tough thing to do, telling her that I think she has the wrong David Halberstam.”