Einhorn revisits birth of March Madness

Einhorn revisits birth of March Madness

There were far too many great interviews for Eddie Einhorn to pick one or two as favorites from the 51 he did in putting together his new book, "How March Became Madness: How the NCAA Tournament Became the Greatest Sporting Event in America."

But the vice chairman of the Chicago White Sox does remember one awkward moment while speaking with Dean Smith and Roy Williams, North Carolina coaches past and present, which turned into a very humorous situation.

"I'm sitting in Roy Williams' office, doing his interview, and Dean Smith is there, too," Einhorn said. "My cell phone rings. I didn't turn it off because I'm not that good at those things, and who is it but Coach K [Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski].

"I felt a little embarrassed. They are all friends, even though they are competitors and have a great rivalry. Roy said to say hello to Mike. They made a big joke out of it."

Einhorn currently is celebrating his 50th year involved in the world of sports, a career that began when he was 20, with a World Series championship from the White Sox, this very special book and one of the best NCAA Tournaments in years. None of the No. 1 seeds will be playing in The Final Four on Saturday. Instead, No. 2-seed UCLA will face No. 4-seed LSU after Cinderella No. 11-seed George Mason faces 3-seed Florida to determine who will advance to Monday.

During his 25 years as a television executive, it was Einhorn who put the sport of college basketball on the map.

It began in 1958, when Einhorn produced the first nationally syndicated radio broadcast of the NCAA Tournament. His office was his dorm room at the Northwestern University School of Law and the phone he used was the one at the end of the hall.

"He used to take off for a week and then come back," said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf of Einhorn's early broadcast days. "He was broadcasting games on the radio. He really resurrected the sport."

A high point for Einhorn and his TVS network took place in 1968 with the first prime-time telecast of college basketball. It was a game pitting Guy Lewis' Houston squad, led by Elvin Hayes, against John Wooden's Bruins, with a talented center known as Lew Alcindor. The game was played at the historic Astrodome.

But Einhorn delves deeper than his own personal success and triumphs in this book. It features countless moments of insight and great stories from the foremost minds of the sport.

"I hadn't seen some of these people in years, and it was great to revisit them," said Einhorn, who is on a six-week book tour to promote his latest accomplishment. "Each chapter was really a mini-book and portrait of the people."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.