Mike Lynch has no idea what the future holds after being the lead Ch. 5 sports anchor the last 37½ years.
Well, other than this afternoon.
“I know I will definitely be at Indian Ridge Country Club at 12:26 (p.m.) for my Friday tee time,” said Lynch, a member at the Andover course since 1990. “Other than that, I can’t tell you right now.”
Thursday night was Lynch’s last night on the WCVB TV’s lead anchor desk.
If you’re fiftysomething years old – like I am – it’s another passage of time. A guy I grew up watching and later becoming friendly with in this crazy business is hanging it up.
“I haven’t thought a lot about it or what I’m going to do because there is no slow down right now in this business,” said Lynch. “There’s no down time anymore, especially with all our teams being so good. It’s more like an abrupt stop. I guess I’ll have a better idea on Monday.”
“Lynchie” has been part of Boston sports lexicon since 1982, or Saturday, March 27, 1982 to be exact.
“I had worked part-time on radio (WITS) after graduating (in 1976) and then eventually full-time,” said Lynch, who played football at Harvard University.
“I had done some Harvard football games on radio with Brian Leary,” said Lynch. “He was really the only backup guy with Don Gillis getting a lot of vacation time and Clarke Booth had it in his contract that he didn’t do any anchoring. He was filling in a lot and recommended I help out.”
Lynch met with program director Jim Thistle at Ch. 5 on Friday night to talk about a possible gig.
He was there for a few hours, watching the 6 p.m. news, then reading from a Leary’s script that night as a dress rehearsal.
“I said, ‘This is tough. It will probably take me six months of training to get this right,’ ” recalled Lynch. “Jim Thistle says, ‘We don’t have that much time. You’re starting tomorrow night.’ And that was the beginning.”
He had sports broadcasting legend Don Gillis as his mentor and the rest was history.
Lynch eventually took over the lead role and the “Sports Wars,” between Ch. 4 (Bob Lobel), Ch. 5 and Ch. 7 (John Dennis) took off.
It was fun. You’d try to catch all three, if possible.
Lynch, though, was a different animal than the other two, who were from Ohio.
He was one of us.
He was born and bred in Swampscott. His father, Francis “Mike” Lynch was a long-time coach and athletic director at Swampscott High. He later attended Phillips Exeter before playing four years of football at Harvard.
That local flavor carried over his work.
He started a segment called “High-5,” focusing on top high school athletes.
“The first one we did was September 27, 1985 about a football player from Walpole,” said Lynch. “That ran the same day Hurricane Gloria hit. Usually, storms will dominate a broadcast, but we ran it.
“The next day we started getting phone calls about other athletes at other schools. The response was amazing,” said Lynch. “It hit us, ‘Wow. This could be big.’ And it was.”
In fact, he was up in the Merrimack Valley twice last year, once for Lawrence High girls volleyball and the other North Andover High football.
“The Lawrence volleyball High-5 was one of my favorites,” said Lynch. “And the fact we were able to do North Andover, too, towns affected by the gas explosions, was really nice.”
Lynch basically survived two generations of Boston sports fans: the negative ones that drove the Boston sports scene and the new fans following championship contenders two or three times a year.
“With a lot of our teams, like the Patriots, if something bad could happen, it happened, like roughing the passer (in 1977 playoffs), or with the Red Sox, through [Bill] Buckner’s legs,” said Lynch. “Then the turn of the century happened and you couldn’t plan any vacations. The Patriots are usually playing in January and February. The Celtics and Bruins have been very good, which means the spring is out; and the Red Sox in the September and October.
“There just is no down time any more in our business,” said Lynch. “Everybody’s good and the fans want coverage of their teams.”
Lynch reminded me his broadcasting career is not over. He will stay on, part-time, at least one day a week during the school seasons and continue with “High-5.”
And if another project comes up, he’d be game to work another day per week.
“It’s time,” said Lynch. “I didn’t have to Binghamton (N.Y.) or Portland or Providence. I never left home and had the best job ever … I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
You can email Bill Burt at email@example.com.
Lynch beat Yale with kick
Ch. 5's Mike Lynch not only knows about sports, but he was pretty good at them.
Lynch was a three-sport star in football, basketball and baseball at Swampscott High, later doing a post-graduate year at Phillips Exeter, a year after Bill Belichick did a PG year at Phillips Andover.
Lynch later played football at Harvard and was part of history on Nov. 22, 1975, when he made a 26-yard field goal in the closing seconds to beat Yale, 10-7, before an estimated 66,000 fans at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Conn.
Boston Globe writer Ernie Roberts wrote that Lynch's boot “wobbled and faded through the Yale Bowl dusk like a golf duffer’s wedge shot.’’