I just finished reading Instant Replay: The Day That Changed Sports Forever by Tony Verna (the actual inventor of instant replay).
When I first opened it, I didn’t know what to expect. I’m a big sports fan and love few things more than watching my favorite sports teams (St. Louis Cardinals, Denver Broncos, UK Wildcats…) – especially when they’re winning. Do you hear that, Wildcats, especially when they’re winning…
However, I’m not that big on reading about sports. The only time I even open a sports section is during March Madness, for the brackets and around September/October for baseball rankings. Last year, it was hoping there was a last minute miracle that found my red birds on top.
So, needless to say, when I started reading this book, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t expect to read about the sort of prejudice he faced as an Italian American during the 1950’s – 60’s. Overcoming that, alone, took a great deal of strength and conviction.
When Tony Verna was a young director, he also faced a lot of obstacles and hurdles – the sort that would have sent a lot of people running for the nearest exit. To hear him tell how he stayed in the fight is very motivational and ridiculously entertaining. Several times during the book I found myself amazed when I remembered, “This is the man who will go on to change sports forever – he invents instant replay!”
On December 7, 1963 TV and sport history was made when the first “instant replay” ever seen on the air was broadcast during the Army-Navy game on CBS Television.
The creator was 29-year-old “wunderkind” director Tony Verna, whose illustrious show-business career has spanned 45 years of Sport and Entertainment history.
His broadcast hallmark was his ability to continually bome up with advances in the use of cameras, program content and creative interplay.
Honored by the Directors Guild of America with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” Verna produced and/or directed 5 Super Bowls, Rome Olympics, NBA Championships, 12 Kentucky Derbies and won an Emmy for the Los Angeles Olympics.
This heartwarming, inspiring and funny story of an “entertainment life” portrays his varied entertainment career which included creating, producing and directing Pope John Paul’s billion-viewer TV Special ” A Prayer for World Peace”, the historic “Live Aid”, and as President of Caesar’s Palace was involved in all their entertainment projects.
I particularly love reading about the places Tony Verna has visited, the people he has met, and the conversations he has had. How many people get to say they directed Mother Teresa? If I had ever met Mother Teresa, I’m certain I couldn’t even have talked – I would have promptly deteriorated into a heap of emotion.
Speaking of emotions, when the author details how he learned of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, you feel as though you’re living through it yourself. Very powerful.
Instant Replay: The Day That Changed Sports Forever would make an excellent gift for any sports fan, tv fan, or history buff. It is a very fascinating book. I’m really hoping Tony Verna will write more. Each chapter of the book covers a span of 10 years, and each could actually provide the basis for its own book.
Fascinating lives make fascinating reads. Tony Verna just proved it.
Book Lovers: If you love fiction, I highly recommend She’s Got the Book for the best fiction book reviews.