Regis Philbin and New York sports: The finest moments

The late Regis Philbin was an endless supporter of New York’s sports squads, providing levity in the often cutthroat athletic scene.

The world was left a little less cheery after the weekend after the passing of Regis Philbin. Born in Manhattan, Philbin amassed countless hours on television through hosting talk and game shows. He is perhaps best known for his 24-year tenure on the syndicated morning talk show Live alongside Kathie Lee Gifford and later Kelly Ripa and for hosting the American edition of the quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire during its initial run at the turn of the century.

Known for his jovial demeanor and personality, Philbin was also well known for his support of New York sports. His enthusiastic analysis will undoubtedly be missed by many, particularly his fellow fans of the New York Yankees and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

ESM looks back on some of the finest moments where the joy of Philbin crossed over into the often stoic, icy world of New York sports…


2011: Pride of the Yankees

As Dr. Anthony Fauci proved prior to last week’s MLB opener in Washington, the most brilliant minds in one field can become befuddled by the ceremonial first pitch. Some at least try to soothe the embarrassment to come by throwing in front of the pitcher’s mound. Philbin, of course, wasn’t like most people.

A die-hard Yankees fan, Philbin was asked to throw the first pitch prior to the Yankees’ September tilt against Minnesota. Not only did Philbin reach home plate, he grazed the corner for a de facto strike.

“I took a chance, and I reached (catcher Russell Martin), I couldn’t believe it!” Philbin remarked to the YES Network booth after. He was even more enthused upon viewing the pitch in “YES-Mo”. “A natural pitcher! Nice job, Regis. Love you, baby!”

2012: Super Rege

Topping the New England Patriots in one Super Bowl was improbable enough. Thus, nobody saw them duplicating the feat four years later when a rematch loomed in Super Bowl XLVI. No one, that is, except Regis. Speaking with ESPN, Philbin went full analyst, detailing just why the Giants were in prime position to put another dent in the New England dynasty.

“The front four is going to rush poor (Tom) Brady to death,” Philbin said, per a social media post shared by the Giants. “You’ve got (Eli) Manning at the peak of his career, he’s got three great receivers racing downfield. I don’t know how the New England Patriots are going to salvage this game.”

Philbin proved prophetic in his Super Bowl prediction. The Giants sacked Brady twice and Manning threw for 296 yards in a 21-17 victory. 74 of those yards came on a final, game-winning drive that began with a 38-yard toss down the sideline to Mario Manningham, part of that triumvirate that Philbin referred to. Another, Victor Cruz, scored the Giants’ first touchdown to give them a two-possession lead early on.

It was a Giants legend that actually took over for Philbin on Live, as Michael Strahan filled the seat next to Ripa upon his departure in 2011.

2014: Shelter From the (Red) Storm

Steve Lavin accomplished plenty in his five-year term helming St. John’s men’s basketball program. Yet, he failed to tear Philbin away from his loyalty to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

During one of Philbin’s final episodes of Crowd Goes Wild, the daily panel talk show he hosted during the earliest days of Fox Sports 1, the longtime questioner was placed in a hot seat of his own, questioned by notable names like Heisman Trophy winner and NFL legend Eddie George, future NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, and Miss USA Erin Brady. When it got to be Lavin’s turn, the coach asked what it would take for Philbin to ditch the green and gold of South Bend for the red of Queens. Philbin rejected him faster than a Chris Obekpa swat on the hardwood.

“No money, no bets at all, it’s Notre Dame all the way,” Philbin said, declaring his eternal allegiance to the Red Storm’s former Big East rival. “No steak dinner!”

New York Rangers legend Ron Duguay also appeared in the recorded panel, pulling off the rare feat of stumping Philbin by asking what he would do had broadcast hosting not worked out.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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