Stay With Us: The Story Of Sports Phone

Howie Karpin/Scott Orgera

976-1313: I will always remember those digits. They were not the phone numbers of family members or friends. The numbers were a part of my daily routine to call and retrieve the latest sports scores or breaking news.

It was Sports Phone, a regular routine for me and many others. A phone media forum that had voices on the other side, many that launched their careers as sports play-by-play broadcasters, hosts of programs, and production personnel. The update of scores and a telephone call, a forum that was the source many years before the advent of web sites, apps, and those innovative sports talk broadcasts.

I was a part of that era and had a brief role updating the latest pro wrestling news as the network expanded with small studio booths in a Manhattan office complex. There was the update and closing tag:

Stay With Us.” So much used now with the various hosts in sports media. You called again and often. You went to the nearby pay telephone on your street corner because mom or dad said, “Get off my phone.”

Now it can be told with the release of “976-1313 How Sports Phone Launched Careers and Broke New Ground,” self published. The authors Scott Orgera and Howie Karpin, both accomplished members in sports media. Longtime colleagues, Karpin is also a Sports Phone alum from 1980 to 1992, and a columnist.

In the case of Sports Phone, a cacophony of personalities set out to change the way scores and breaking news were consumed – and in turn, ended up setting the tone for the up-to-the-second updates we take for granted today,” says Orgera. “Of course, they didn’t truly know what their collective impact would be at the time.”

For callers local to the Big Apple (New York City), ten cents could now get you what was mostly an uninterrupted barrage of scores delivered in rapid-fire succession during peak times-with the quicker-tonged announcers managing to read up to 30 scores in that New York minute. Those in other areas could reach Sports Phone via long-distance calls, many waiting until the opportune times of day when rates were lower. Phone programs even ran ad campaigns in other markets that detailed the long-distance costs as the clock turned, giving would-be callers a playbook on when best to pick up the receiver.”

That’s how it worked and was part of being instrumental with a success. A collective impact that paved the way to being informed about the latest scores and updates, evolving now to an update provided with the easy handle of digital media, an easy click of your finger or voice.

Sports Phone was the medium and expanded to other major media markets in cities around the nation. It also led to careers of voices and faces we see and hear in sports media. Well researched, Orgera and Karpin list the sports phone alumni who also tell their story and how their venture started their careers.

Mets play-by-play announcers Gary Cohen and Howie Rose, ESPN Sports anchor Linda Cohn, Jack Curry of the YES Network, ESPN sports talk radio host Don La Greca, Bob Papa radio voice of the football Giants, Charlie Slowes radio play-by-play radio voice of the Washington Nationals. And so many more to mention that are reputed and good at their craft.

The early days of Sports Phone was headquartered in a 47-floor skyscraper that was built around P.J. Clarke’s, a historic New York City saloon where the famous patrons from sports, politics, and entertainment would congregate. After their shifts, that’s where Sports Phone employees would end their day.

The stories from those who provided the updates are a must read. From the constant deadlines to provide those updates and the La Greca account of the O.J. Simpson updates and that media story of being accused of murder.

We had an O.J. Simpson line when O.J. was going through his stuff,” La Greca recalled. “So, we wanted to be on top of that.” Basically, this was a training ground and spearheaded many careers in the industry. They learned about deadlines, accuracy, and of course were die hard sports fans like you and me. The stories are interesting, offer humor. Orgera and Karpin tell the history and did their research with interesting photos of update personalities and talent working round-the-clock.

Sports Phone, after all, was a 24-hour operation as they updated the late scores and breaking stories that occurred overnight.

Karpin, a colleague for 42 years and Bronx Lehman College graduate, got his start as an intern at WMCA Radio. He made the connection and Sports Phone became a part of his career, one that he says couldn’t have come at a better time. In addition to NYsportsday it’s been a 45-year career that currently includes sports update anchor at Sirius XM and accredited Major League Baseball official scorer in New York, while also being an author or co-author of 14 books.

Stay With Us…..

The book is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble. Write a review or order check the website:

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Mancuso

About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

Get connected with us on Social Media