Even Bob Costas ’74 can strike out occasionally in the broadcast booth.
During an appearance Friday at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the decorated sportscaster shared a story from his iconic career about a regrettable mistake that he turned into a teachable moment for the students who packed the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium for the Leaders in Communications lecture series.
The Chicago Cubs were taking on the St. Louis Cardinals on June 28, 2015, and Cubs pitcher Pedro Strop had an outing to forget, allowing a home run, hitting a batter and walking a batter in a disastrous relief effort. As he walked off the mound, Strop pointed to the sky, a trademark gesture for the reliever. Costas admits he’s not a fan of athletes celebrating when their performance is substandard, and he wanted to poke a little fun at Strop during his MLB Network broadcast.
Problem was, Costas didn’t have as much time as he anticipated going into the commercial break, and he was forced to cut off his remarks quickly.
“Strop is on his way out, pointing toward the heavens. We can only ask — or wonder — that he is asking some departed relative for forgiveness for this atrocious performance,” Costas said at the time, words he would later regret as the moment went viral on Twitter.
Two days later, the remorseful Costas approached Strop in the team’s hotel lobby in St. Louis, delivering a heartfelt apology. Strop knew Costas made a mistake and appreciated the Major League Baseball Hall of Famer speaking to him in person.
“My producer told me Twitter was blowing up over this, and usually if Twitter is blowing up, I’m okay with it,” says Costas, 71, who stays off social media.
“But I wasn’t okay with it. I rewatched the clip and it was even worse than I thought. But if Twitter did not exist. If somehow, I had done this in 1990, I would have done the same thing. … We were bonded by this goofy incident, where I admitted that I stepped in it. That’s the way you handle a screwup. Not a big to-do online, but you look the person in the eyes and admit you screwed up.”