Bama’s Eli Gold to speak Monday night

Published 1:32 am Sunday, November 8, 2009

SELMA — Eli Gold has a special connection with his radio listeners.

Gold is the voice of the University of Alabama athletics, and he calls play-by-play for the NFL, professional baseball and the NHL on radio and television. He’ll be the guest speaker at 6 p.m. Monday at the weekly meeting of the Selma Quarterback Club. The meeting has been designated “Ladies Night.

Gold remembers when a NASCAR fan asked him to autograph his automobile tire — about 7:30 a.m. before the Alabama football game at Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss.

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Or the woman who spoke with him in the Alabama pressbox before a game and told him her husband was one of his biggest fans. He couldn’t make it to the football game that day because “he was bleeding out of his rectum.”

Gold said he had no response. But he understands how fans can become so closely connected with broadcasters.

“Seriously, it shows how comfortable people are with the radio broadcaster for either their favorite team or their favorite sport,” he said. “They are comfortable enough to come up and say most anything and tell you far more than you want to know.”

Gold released his autobiography, “From Peanuts to the Pressbox,” a few months ago, and he has plenty of insider stories about broadcasting. He also talks about his hectic schedule and how he prepares.

“You owe it to that client to do the best job you possibly can,” he said about the broadcasting difference between amateur and professional sports. “:If you mess up, it doesn’t matter if you mess up on a Bama game or an NBC telecast, you’ve still messed up. So from that standpoint, every broadcast is equally important.

“Where there is a difference is the emotional tie-in. For Alabama, obviously, I want the Tide to win,” he said. “But when I go on the air to do a NASCAR race, I really don’t care who wins. … I just want to see a good game and have a good broadcast.”

Gold said sports fans have become more knowledgeable because more information is easily accessible.

“You have to call the game straight because everybody is watching on television or in the stadium or whatever, he said. “The fans at Alabama are so knowledgeable about football, you can blow your credibility out of the water by just saying something absurd out of the blue.

“Fans are more informed. But there’s new stuff coming out every day,” Gold said. “I don’t know how many people knew the difference between the ‘pistol’ and the ‘shotgun’ formation. Yes, it’s a very smart fan base, both NASCAR and Alabama. Doing hockey in Nashville, well, they have learned a lot but it may not be like dealing with the fans in Montreal.”

He said he also has to be up-to-date on his teams.

“Bama fans are very, very, very highly attuned to what’s going on,” he said.

I’m always careful when I’m on the air; I’m not going to do something stupid. I also realized how closely everything you say is closely heard and how you must be careful not to offend somebody’s sensibilities. You’ve got to be very careful about that.”

Despite the hectic schedule, Gold is living his childhood dream, from the time he was selling peanuts in Madison Square Garden as a youngster.

“Broadcasting is such an adrenaline rush,” he said. “And even though my schedule is replete with logistical nightmares — doing an Alabama game Saturday night and doing a race on Sunday, or doing an Alabama game Saturday and then an NFL game on Sunday or whatever it might be — I thrive on that. It’s just what I love to do. Short of my family, that is my life, that is what I do. … It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t care what game I’m doing. This is what I thrive on.”