MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — He started working in the WCCO-TV newsroom when Dave Moore was the anchor, and Harmon Killebrew was smashing homeruns for the Minnesota Twins.
Since then, Mark Rosen has covered Super Bowls, World Series, Final Fours and the Olympics. On Thursday, he’ll release a book about all of it. It’s called “Best Seat In The House.”
WCCO-TV’s Amelia Santaniello sat down with Rosen to talk about why he wrote it, what he hopes people get out of it and how his toughest critic reacted to it.
Amelia: So is it kind of like a big thank you to all the people to all the people that made a huge impact on your life then?
Rosen: It’s a big thank you to all those people.
It’s not hard to get Mark to talk about his book, because of the motivation. There’s 297 pages of stories about his 43 years covering sorts, and the lessons he learned growing up in a legendary newsroom.
“When I used the term best seat in the house I meant two-fold. The best seat in the house journalistically at this remarkable legacy TV station I’ve had a chance to work at since I was 17 years old, and the best seat in the house certainly from the standpoint of covering the many sporting events, but the.personalities behind the games themselves,” Rosen said.
Amelia: So this isn’t just about sports stories then?
Rosen: This is not a sports book. This is not a statistical book about batting averages and who hit what homerun when, there’s plenty of that, but this is personality driven.
In fact, it’s driven by the personality of the author, a kid who grew up in St. Louis Park watching Dave Moore on TV and cheering for all the local teams.
The common thread: He’s still pinching himself over meeting, working with and becoming friends with so many of his heroes, like Killebrew.
“Very few people can have that experience of growing up idolizing someone, working with them, becoming a friend, having him on my show,” Rosen said. “Playing in a charity golf tournament with him, having real conversations and realize he was better person than he was, even as a baseball player.”
The pages are filled with sports legends: Kirby Puckett, Dave Winfield, Mark’s hero Sandy Koufax and an entire chapter on Vikings coach Bud Grant, who became like a second father to Mark even though he was originally intimidated by him.
“I mean when he called me by my first name for the first time I about keeled over, because Bud Grant never you by your name, it was like ‘Hey You,’ get over here. Yes sir, what do you need,” Rosen said. “But I learned more about common sense from Bud Grant than anyone I ever met in my life.”
Of all the big events he covered, Mark says “The Miracle on Ice” is his favorite. That’s when the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team shocked the world and won the gold medal. He was with the players in Lake Placid, New York, and went back with them for the 25th reunion.
There’s a chapter on the big stories he broke, like Brett Favre signing with the Vikings.
“I tell sort of the behind the scenes of what that was like, to get the phone call that morning. And knowing that I had to run with that story immediately because I didn’t have time to double-triple check other sources, because there was a lot of competition out there. And the nervousness I had, because it’s Brett Favre, who can change his mind about what he’s going to order for breakfast in 30 seconds,” Rosen said.
It’s a nose for news Mark traces to his roots in Dave Moore’s newsroom.
The team full of CBS-bound reporters taught him their tricks, and their familiar faces now hover over him from the walls of our offices.
“I knew at that age I was walking into a field of dreams newsroom. Even at that age. It was like as someone once said it’s the guys on the bubblegum cards coming alive when you walk into a baseball clubhouse. I felt that way walking into this newsroom,” Rosen said.
He thanks those early mentors and his late father for lighting his passion for sports, and dedicated the book to his beloved mother.
“One of the greatest days of my life was when could tell her I dedicated book to her,” Rosen said.
Rosen said he has read one chapter to her. And what did she say?
“You could have done better. She’s my mom for crying out loud,” he said.
The book hits shelves Thursday. Mark will kick off his day on WCCO This Morning at 6 a.m. His first book signing is at noon at the Barnes and Noble in downtown Minneapolis.