Friday, December 4, 2009

Dubious Anniversary At Gray Lady and Sun-Times

Today is the 20th anniversary of a copy mistake made in the Sports section of The New York Times, which has gone undetected by Times' editors and staff these many years. In an article dated December 4, 1989 and titled "SPORTS OF THE TIMES; Aggravating Is Kind Word," there exists a small, but somewhat significant error.

The mistake appears in the first line of the article's fourth paragraph of the online version; it was probably the third paragraph in the paper back in 1989, but the Proofreader has, as of yet, been unable to obtain a hard copy of that. Ironically, the mistake occurs one line after the New York Football Giants' quarterback Phil Simms is quoted as having asked reporters, "On the mess ups? Is that what you want?"

Regardless of what whomever wanted, a mess-up is what was printed next and it is highlighted for you in the screen shots above. Notice the phrase "after Bob Golic's sack" in line one of paragraph four. Readers with proficient attention to detail skills will recognize the error. While Bob Golic has appeared in many different things, most amusing among them Saved By The Bell: The College Years, he never appeared in the N.F.L. game played at the Meadowlands between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants on December 3, 1989. Several credible Internet sources confirm that at no time during his professional football career did Bob Golic occupy a roster spot on the Philadelphia Eagles. Furthermore, several sources listing the Eagles' 1989 roster also confirm that Bob Golic never played in an N.F.L. game for the Eagles that year.

So, how'd the mistake happen if Bob Golic never played for the Eagles? Most likely, it was a mix-up with his younger brother Mike Golic, who you will notice was on the Eagles' roster in 1989. Mike Golic is now an ESPN radio and T.V. personality. Interesting how professional sportswriters and editors are able to make a mistake like this, which kind of undermines the integrity of the story. Bob Golic played for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1989 and played in this game on December 3rd of that year.

The Gray Lady isn't the only newspaper celebrating the dubious anniversary today. The Times' Windy City colleagues at The Chicago Sun-Times should also be popping a little bubbly today because they made the mistake too, unearthed via and highlighted below. Wait, the same obscure mistake on the same day? How'd that happen?

It's difficult to speculate so long after the fact, but one guess is, given the news cycle in those days, a writer at the Sun-Times read the story in The New York Times and then spit out a reconstituted version of events which included the error. If that is the genesis of the second mistake, it's too bad the writer didn't read another story in The Times that day, which correctly accounted for Mike Golic's play in the game.

Raise a glass for a great printed mistake that should've never been made!

This post was originally published on December 4, 2008.


Don said...

Did you see where one article says 6th yard line and the first says 7th yard line?

stan said...

My eye was drawn to the more obvious error in the preceding paragraph, where "happened" is spelled with an extra p.

stan said...

My mistake—it was two paragraphs prior.

J. Alfred Proofreader said...

Great catch, Stan. I was so distracted by the factual inaccuracies that I missed the extraneous P. That article's a mess!

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