About William Curtis "Bill" MacPhail
William "Bill" Curtis MacPhail (March 25, 1920 - September 4, 1996) was a pioneer television sports executive.
MacPhail worked his way up in the front office of several minor league teams. He was traveling road secretary for the New York Yankees in 1946 and then worked for eight years for three minor league teams before becoming director of publicity for the Kansas City Athletics in 1955. CBS hired him the following year.
MacPhail is a former President of CBS Sports, where he worked from 1956-1973. Afterwards he was associated with Bob Wold, a satellite sports pioneer, and then brought to CNN by Reese Schonfeld to create the CNN Sports department in 1980 upon its launch, which he ran until retiring from CNN in 1995. While at CBS Sports, Bill MacPhail is credited with implementing instant replay for the first time in sports — during the Army-Navy Game of 1963.
MacPhail is known for hiring famous broadcasting talent. He hired sportscaster legends from Chris Schenkel, Jim McKay, to Dan Patrick. He hired former New York Giants kicker Pat Summerall as a sportscaster at CBS. He also hired Frank Gifford, Jack Buck, and golf producer Frank Chirkinian.
MacPhail is recognized for helping CBS Sports acquire the television rights to numerous sporting events, including the 1960 Winter & Summer Olympics in Squaw Valley, United States and Rome, Italy respectively, the NBA, the Masters Tournament (CBS still holds the television rights to this day), and Major League Baseball.
While head of CNN Sports, MacPhail acquired news rights from Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA and other sporting events so that CNN might carry TV clips of all major sporting events. He also mentored current CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton (journalist). At CNN, MacPhail hired sports anchors Nick Charles, Bob Kurtz (broadcaster), Fred Hickman, Jim Huber, Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, Hannah Storm, Dan Hicks, and Daryn Kagan, among others.
In 1989, MacPhail was the first recipient of Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. The award, has been given out annually since, by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and recognizes “long-time exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.”
MacPhail was born in Columbus, Ohio. He graduated from Swarthmore College and served in the Navy.
Bill MacPhail is the son of Larry MacPhail, former President of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who introduced night baseball when he was President of the Cincinnati Reds at a game on May 24, 1935 at Crosley Field in Cincinnati between the Reds and Philadelphia Phillies. Bill’s brother Lee MacPhail, is a former President of the American League and former General Manager of the New York Yankees.
Both Bill’s brother Lee MacPhail and their father Larry MacPhail are the only father-son combination inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Bill’s nephew Andy MacPhail is President of the Baltimore Orioles.