We had been chatting for nearly an hour when it occurred that I had not mentioned Tim Ryan’s book, at least not directly. This was right after he shared a story about having cocktails one night in San Francisco with Gil Clancy, Boz Scaggs and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Tim Ryan was a broadcaster of sports for 52 years, more than 30 sports in 20 countries, and somebody else always paid for it. And that is why when he sat down to put it all to paper, it occurred he might be sitting for a while, and that he might need a lot of paper.
And that he should call it “On Someone Else’s Nickel: A Life in Television, Sports and Travel.”
You can purchase Tim Ryan’s memoir through Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. And then later this year, after the Vegas Golden Knights have dropped the puck and you bring your copy to T-Mobile Arena and you can spot Ryan and his daughter Kimberley (who lives in Summerlin) watching the Golden Knights skate against the Canadiens or the Maple Leafs or even the Arizona Coyotes, the author said he will autograph it with pleasure.
Ryan graduated from Notre Dame, at a time when the Fighting Irish were even worse in football than they are now. But he was born in Winnipeg, raised in Toronto. And so while his father, Joe, was general manager of three Canadian Football League teams — Winnipeg, Montreal and Edmonton — and is enshrined in the CFL Hall of Fame with Bud Grant and some other guys, hockey is in Tim Ryan’s DNA.
In a roundabout, fate-would-have-it way, Ryan owes everything he accomplished in sports broadcasting to hockey, and the startup of the California/Oakland Seals in 1967 — and their ultimate demise.
The Seals had hired him to be director of public relations. When he tested positive for hockey DNA, they made him the play-by-play man, too.
By 1970, Tim Ryan, with a wife and three kids to feed, was out of a job.
The Seals never had a winning season before moving to Cleveland, where they became the Barons but lost some more before merging with the Minnesota North Stars. The North Stars ultimately relocated to Dallas.
So while everybody around here is excited about the Golden Knights dropping the puck, Tim Ryan said it might be a good idea to put the puck in the net once it is dropped, which is never easy for an expansion team.
“I’m excited about an NHL franchise coming there … but all of us were optimistic about (the Seals) too, because the franchise had done so well in the WHL,” Ryan said, alluding to the Seals’ minor league heyday in the Western Hockey League.
Like here, there was a glittering new arena in which to play — the same one the Golden State Warriors still play basketball in today.
“What we had not realized is that people would not be willing to come across the (San Francisco-Oakland Bay) bridge to watch hockey, and it became impossible to build interest in hockey in Oakland after that,” Ryan said.
At least hockey fans here won’t have to cross a bridge.
Tim Ryan said he was going to watch the Red Wings skate with Sharks on Saturday in San Jose, where the old Seals will have a reunion. Stories will be told, and I’m sure the old Seals will get a kick out of the one about Ryan, Gil Clancy, Boz Scaggs and Mikhail Baryshnikov having drinks at Tosca in North Beach.
Ryan was sitting high in the War Memorial Opera House watching Baryshnikov do pirouettes when he spotted Terry Bradshaw’s bald head in the seats below. The opera had been wife JoJo Starbuck’s idea, Terry said during intermission. Ryan said he was meeting boxing sidekick Clancy afterward at Tosca, which Baryshnikov was said to frequent when in town.
A fight fan who looked familiar approached their table. It was musician Boz Scaggs, and when Baryshnikov arrived, it was Boz who did the Lido Shuffle and made the introductions.
Tim Ryan told Mikhail Baryshnikov he wanted to make a documentary about impalas in Zimbabwe set to ballet music, because impalas are graceful. His hope: that Baryshnikov, a fellow enthusiast of African wildlife, might be the choreographer.
Misha’s ballet schedule forced him to pass, and the documentary never got made, but Tim Ryan went on to call 10 Olympics, and once won a bet with Bob Arum that involved a Carthusian monk and a mountaintop monastery overlooking Grenoble, France.
If you want details, you’ll have to buy the book.
Contact Ron Kantowski at email@example.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.