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Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame 2020-21: John Filippelli, a New York Champion With Global Prestige

06/12/2021

Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame 2020-21: John Filippelli, a New York Champion With Global Prestige By Brandon Costa, Director of Digital

Monday, December 6, 2021 - 2:40 pm

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In a ceremony postponed by the pandemic, the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame Class of 2020 will be inducted on Dec. 14 at the New York Hilton. SVG is profiling the nine inductees in the weeks prior. For more information, CLICK HERE.

If, as former Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O'Neill said, all politics is local, the same can certainly be said for sports. Even today, in a world unbound by geographical limitations, few things can unite a city or a country more than a championship run by a sports team donning its letters.

For John J. Filippelli, those letters are an interlocking N and Y.

He's one of the more respected, influential, and accomplished leaders in the history of sports media, and his career is a rare one, spanning both the executive suite and the front bench. His current role as executive producer and president, production and programming, for New York-based YES Network, is an appropriate exclamation point on a career that has engrained memories in the minds of sports viewers and altered the careers of countless sports broadcasters for nearly five decades.

Flip is an innovator who thinks outside the box, says longtime New York Yankees play-by-play voice Michael Kay. He sees things that others don't see, through a prism of inventiveness and attention to detail. Most important, he's a Hall of Famer in the way he treats his people. He is your defender at all times, and he is the rare leader who constantly tells you how good a job you're doing. All workers in all walks of life should experience working with a leader like Flip.

Brooklyn-born Filippelli s story reads like one that was predestined. His father ran a bar across the street from Ebbets Field (one that many famous Dodger players would frequent after games), and his first job was as a 16-year-old vendor at Yankee Stadium. Baseball is in his roots.

It was, however, during a run-of-the-mill tour of NBC in New York City - one that any tourist visiting the city would go on - that the magic of television gripped him. 1974 was the year Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famer Dick Ebersol got his first job at NBC Sports, and Saturday Night Live debuted. As young Flip walked through the halls of the tall building overlooking Rockefeller Plaza, it was, in his words, love at first sight.

Determined to break into the sports-television industry, Filippelli landed a job as a PA at NBC and eventually earned the opportunity to sit down with the first president of NBC Sports, Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famer Chet Simmons, to make his case to join the team. According to Filippelli, Simmons, perhaps slightly skeptical of the overly enthusiastic youngster, challenged him to name the starting lineup of the 1961 New York Yankees. Fortunately, that World Series-winning, homerun-record-breaking squad held a special place in his heart. He named not only the starting lineup but the club's entire roster.

Filippelli was in, and thus was birthed one of the most influential careers in the history of sports television. During his tenure at NBC Sports, he climbed the ranks to become a lead producer for numerous MLB Game of the Week telecasts, as well as for multiple League Championship Series, All-Star Games, and World Series telecasts. He was in the producer's chair for the famous 1988 World Series, including the night of one of the most iconic moments in baseball history, when Los Angeles Dodgers' Kirk Gibson slapped a game-winning home run over the right-field fence at Dodger Stadium in Game 1.

After more than two decades at NBC Sports, Filippelli moved over to the new Fox Sports, where his influence on the game of baseball grew even further. He served as coordinating producer of the broadcaster's first World Series, in 1996 (when his beloved Yankees win their first title in 18 years). He was also producer on the 1998 night when Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run, breaking the record Roger Maris set in that '61 season that Filippelli's knowledge of got him in the sports-television door.

Fox gave him the room to flex his innovation muscles. He was a major part of key industry firsts, including the permanent baseball scorebug and, perhaps most notable, running regular-speed instant replays during a live broadcast. It changed how viewers perceived the speed and power of MLB players.

Many of the production enhancements commonplace on baseball telecasts today - such as full-speed replays, tight super-slo-mo shots of the bases, and even subtle elements such as the full-time display of the pitch count - are all things that Flip implemented, says former YES Network and Fox Sports executive Ed Delaney. Although Flip's accomplishments are prodigious, they are eclipsed by his compassion, generosity, and wondrous spirit. At the end of the day, the sports-broadcasting industry is a better place because of Flip's remarkable contributions.

Filippelli's career hasn't touched only America's Pastime. During his days producing in the 1980s and '90s, he left his mark on productions of a global scale - the Olympic Games, multiple Super Bowls, Monday Night Football, the Indianapolis 500, Wimbledon, the NHL, golf, college football - and was even involved in the iconic ABC's Wide World of Sports. He also spent time with World Wrestling Entertainment.

But when it comes to second chapters in life, they don't come more prolific than Filippelli's. After a brief stint at ABC Sports, he got the call that the Yankees were starting their own television network and that Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famer and team owner George Steinbrenner wanted h
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2021/12/06/sports-broadcasting-hall-of-fam...
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