Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: As I've Seen It (2012)

By Ed Kilgore

The story of how I first saw this book is worth telling.

I walked into a Barnes & Noble for a book signing by ex-boxer Ray Mancini and author Mark Kriegel when I saw Ed Kilgore standing by the service counter. Right next to him were copies of his new book, stacked up on the counter. I knew the book was coming but didn't know when it would go on sale.

When I asked him a smart-aleck question like, "Ed, are you using the personal touch to sell books now?", he laughed and said he didn't even know it was even there. But we quickly negotiated a good-natured deal: If I agreed to buy the book, he's autograph it on the spot.

Kilgore has been part of the Western New York sports scene for almost 40 years. We probably met about 30 years ago at one sporting event or another, and he's always been helpful and friendly for me. When I worked for the Sabres, he said whenever he got a telephone call from some drunk asking a trivia question, he'd give him my number because he figured I had a better chance of answering it. Thanks, Ed ... I think.

This sort of longevity is fairly rare in the television business, since most people try to move up and on. Kilgore used to be the new kid on the block while competing with Van Miller and Rick Azar; now he's the proverbial grizzled veteran. He's written down some of his memories in "As I've Seen It."

This is exactly what you might expect out of a longtime local sportscaster, with an extra surprise thrown in at the end. The early chapters are dedicated to a bit about his pre-Buffalo years -- who knew that his real name was Kim? The road to Buffalo that he took is a good reminder about just how much luck plays into the job-seeking process for those looking for work in the media. Kilgore more or less stumbled on to a job lead through a connection and got hired. He'd be the first to tell you that it could have been anyone else who happened to be in that age-old cliche of the right place at the right time.

From there, Kilgore mostly sticks to stories about others, everyone from Jim Kelly and Rick Martin to O.J. Simpson and Scotty Bowman. But there's time for some anecdotes about his family, co-workers and celebrity sightings along the way. I particularly liked reading about Ron Hunter, a legendary anchorman who passed through Buffalo, and Jerry Fedell, a news director at Ch. 2 in Buffalo whom I worked with in radio for a while. .

The last chapter is devoted to Kilgore's climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. While that trip came up on the news and through his Facebook posts, it comes across as a larger adventure when fully told here. Any buried feelings about trying mountain climbing of mine have been fully submerged again.

On books about Western New York, I tend to be particularly tough on looking for incorrect facts and typos, but Kilgore has a good batting average here. His writing style is quite conversational, as it's easy to hear his voice while reading it.

I don't rate books by friends, but those who have lived in the Buffalo area during the past 40 years should find "As I've Seen It" an easy, enjoyable read.

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