It had to happen eventually. With all his insight and behind-the-scenes knowledge of the Buffalo sports landscape, you just knew it was a matter of time before Ed Kilgore would sit down and put his thoughts to paper. The end result of that effort is his new book appropriately titled “As I’ve Seen It: Wide Right, No Goal and Other Buffalo Sports Sagas.”
Published by Western New York Wares, Inc., the nearly 200-page book is filled with four decades worth of memories courtesy of WGRZ’s sports guru and covers a variety of topics, from his early career days and shows such as “Bowling For Dollars,” to the heartbreak of “Wide Right” and “No Goal,” to the satisfaction of reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2010.
“My book is a combination of stories covering some 40 years while sports director at Channel 2, as well as stories about personal experiences and Channel 2 history,” said Kilgore. “It all starts in 1973, which was an amazing time to come to Buffalo, in retrospect, since Rich Stadium opened and the WGRZ-TV studios at 259 Delaware Avenue opened as well.
“The Bills had O.J. and were on the verge of making the playoffs, the Sabres were red hot with the French Connection, and the Buffalo Braves were just coming into their golden era with Bob McAdoo, Randy Smith, Ernie D. and the rest. Just four years later, Channel 2 acquired the rights to Sabres TV and I handled the intermissions, pre- and post-game shows both on the road and at home. This nine-year period of being on the ‘inside’ led to many stories that I think readers will find interesting.”
Known to friends and family as Kim Kilgore until he took his first job in broadcasting in San Antonio, Texas, after graduating from the University of Missouri, Kilgore grew up in Hermiston, Oregon. His career would eventually lead him to Buffalo, where he found things much to his liking.
“Buffalo is a terrific place to live and raise a family, and I actually enjoy the change of seasons and a heavy snowstorm or two,” said Kilgore about his decision to remain in Buffalo despite job offers elsewhere. “My wife Deb is also a Buffalo native, which was a factor a couple of times.”
As for his successful career covering sports, there are two moments that he considers most memorable: Super Bowl XXV between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants, and the USA “Miracle on Ice” win over the highly favored Soviet team at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid.
The end of Super Bowl XXV, unfortunately, also resulted in his most crushing career moment.
“Certainly the end of Super Bowl XXV — ‘Wide Right’ — when I was standing in the tunnel area hoping against hope I’d be getting doused with liquid refreshments in the Bills winning locker room.” Coming in a close second was the “No Goal” game — Game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals — when the Buffalo Sabres lost to the Dallas Stars in highly controversial fashion.
Aside from covering those memorable games, Kilgore also had the opportunity to meet many professional athletes as they passed through the city. And while there were some heated moments and the occasional nose-to-nose confrontation, the easygoing Kilgore has made far more friends than enemies.
“Certainly Rick Martin, sadly, was right up there,” Kilgore said as he reflected upon some of the good guys he covered as a member of the media. “We were close friends even after his playing career was over, and his zest for life and perpetual good mood made him a joy to be around. I’d also put Thurman Thomas in there somewhere, because despite a sometimes gruff and cranky exterior, he’s a fun-loving guy who is also fun to be around. Fred Smerlas and Jim Haslett are in the honorable mention category because they were so off-the-wall and unpredictable.”
The final chapter in Kilgore’s book covers his Summer of 2010 experience of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. Ascending 19,340 feet to the summit at the age of 63 proved to be a life-changing experience in many ways.
“ ‘Epiphany’ is a good word to describe the Kili experience,” Kilgore said. “I learned a lot about myself during that eight-day effort; that no matter what the conditions or how tired or sick I felt, there was never the slightest doubt I would eventually stand at the summit. The ‘moment’ came on Day Six after six hours of climbing up through steep rocks and scree (loose gravel) in seven degree temps in the dead of night, wind howling, and the air so thin when moving from 16,000 to 19,000 feet that breathing and even concentrating became extremely difficult. And then becoming aware it was getting lighter and we were there just as the sun popped up over the African horizon. No booming voice or angels or anything, but I had this overwhelming sense that everything – EVERYTHING – is somehow all connected. That feeling has not left me.”
And what’s the next chapter in the life of Ed Kilgore?
“I plan to work at least one more year at Channel 2 part time, and then who knows? Maybe another book or another mountain, but definitely staying busy and running, hiking and playing golf and traveling with Deb,” he said. “We’ll play it as it lies.”