ESPN'S Dan Patrick isn't who you think he is. Neither is CNN/SI's Nick Charles. Nor Fox's Dick Stockton. Ditto Marv Albert and Hannah Storm. Like SAG members or participants in the FBI's witness relocation program, all the above-named sportscasters have changed their surnames.
Patrick is actually Daniel Patrick Pugh. Early in his career, when he was working at CNN, a producer there prevailed upon him to make his middle name his surname. In 1989, when Pugh left CNN for ESPN, he found himself in the staff telephone directory between studio host Bill Patrick and play-by-play man Mike Patrick. The network's Patrick hat trick prompted one producer to command, "That's it, no more Patricks!"
Except there were no real ones. Bill (now with USA Network and Speedvision) is actually Gerard Monteux, and Mike was born Mike Carduff. "Carduff was my father's name," say Mike, "but my mother remarried, and until 13 years ago I legally used my stepfather's last name, which is Frankhouser."
What about Marvin Aufrichtig? As an adolescent, Marvin persuaded his father, Max, to change the family name to (yesss!) Albert. Thus we lost an entire clan of sportscasting Aufrichtigs—Marv, brothers Al and Steve, and son Kenny. A similar modification has affected the Carabinas, Harry, Skip and Chip, whom we know as the Carays.
What in the name of John Buccigross is going on here? Nick Charles was born Nick Nickeas. Stockton's birth certificate reads Stokvis. "Dick had a boss in Pittsburgh who urged him to change his name," says Stockton's wife, CBS's Lesley Visser, who adds, " Visser is my real last name, although if you've read the papers lately, you'd think it's ' Visser comma 46.' " NBC's Hannah Storm eighty-sixed her real last name, Storen, when her first employer, a heavy-metal-oriented radio station in Corpus Christi, asked her to host a show titled Storm by the Sea.
Why do so many broadcast sports journalists charged with imparting accurate information mislead viewers on the most fundamental aspect of themselves? "I guess they want a name with a snappier sound," says NBC's Bob Costas (his real name). "One that rolls off the tongue with ease."
Given all the name dropping, let's salute ESPN's Betsy Ross, who uses her real name on air. "I did consider changing it at the outset of my career," she says. "My producer said, Are you kidding? Who's ever going to forget a name like that?' " So, Betsy Ross is Betsy Ross. What a revolutionary concept.