Jimmy Snyder (sports commentator)

Jimmy Snyder (sports commentator)

Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder
Jimmy the Greek in 1971
Born (1918-09-09)September 9, 1918
Steubenville, Ohio
Died April 21, 1996(1996-04-21) (aged 77)
Las Vegas, Nevada

Dimetrios Georgios Synodinos (September 9, 1918 – April 21, 1996), better known as Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder, was an American sports commentator and Las Vegas bookmaker.

Contents

  • Life and career 1
    • The NFL Today 1.1
    • Controversy 1.2
  • In popular culture 2
  • Death 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Life and career

Snyder was born Dimetrios Georgios Synodinos in Steubenville, Ohio. According to his New York Times obituary of April 22, 1996, Snyder's family roots were on the island of Chios in the Aegean Sea, in the village of Tholopotami (Θολoποτάμι). As a teenager in Ohio, he became acquainted with bookmakers. Snyder and his wife Joan lost three of their five children to cystic fibrosis.[1]

According to his autobiography Jimmy the Greek, Snyder bet US$10,000 on the 1948 election between Thomas Dewey and Harry S. Truman, getting 17–1 odds for Truman to win. In a later interview he indicated that he knew Truman was going to win because Dewey had a mustache and "American women didn't trust men with a mustache".

He invested money in oil drilling and coal mining, but when those ventures failed, Snyder moved to Las Vegas in 1956 and began a weekly pro-football betting line.

The NFL Today

The sports line eventually led to a 12-year stint on the Los Angeles Raiders would beat the Los Angeles Rams 31-21. This allowed bettors who knew the line of the game to be able to deduce his selection when betting the point spread: If the spread in the example game was the Raiders by five, bettors would know Jimmy was picking the Raiders to beat it. The NFL was adamant about avoiding any official connections between gambling and the league, but Pete Rozelle was an acquaintance of Jimmy and made it clear that his work on CBS was acceptable.

Controversy

On January 16, 1988, he was fired by the CBS network (where he had been a regular on NFL Today since 1976) after commenting to WRC-TV reporter Ed Hotaling at Duke Zeibert's Washington, D.C. restaurant that African Americans were naturally superior athletes at least in part because they had been bred to produce stronger offspring during slavery:

According to the New York Times obituary, Snyder expressed regret for his comments, remarking: "What a foolish thing to say." His CBS co-workers publicly stated that they did not agree with Snyder's theories and that they did not oppose CBS' decision to fire him. Black former NFL player Irv Cross said in the 30 for 30 documentary about Snyder that he worked alongside Jimmy for a long time and didn't consider him to be a racist at all. In the same documentary, Frank Deford sympathetically noted that Jimmy often tried to sound more educated than he actually was, and that his comments were basically him trying to make a point about a subject he knew nothing about.

Snyder also commented during the WRC-TV interview that if blacks "take over coaching jobs, like everybody wants them to, there's not to be anything left for white people."[3]

In 1991, Snyder sued the CBS network for age discrimination, defamation and breach of contract.[4] Snyder maintained that his firing aggravated his personal health problems, according to court papers.[4] Snyder's attorney, Jeffery L. Liddle, stated that by "firing and repudiating Mr. Snyder, CBS quashed his dream, his dignity, and his spirit." [4]

In popular culture

Snyder appeared in a cameo in the 1981 comedy film The Cannonball Run as a bookie. In the movie he offered 50–1 odds against Formula One driver Jamie Blake (played by Dean Martin) and gambler Morris Fenderbaum (played by Sammy Davis Jr.) winning the Cannonball coast-to-coast endurance race. Jimmy the Greek and Dean Martin were childhood acquaintances in Steubenville, Ohio.

On November 10, 2009, to regain the world heavyweight championship, Muhammad Ali, in the midst of an interview with David Frost, looked into the camera and addressed his doubters. "All of you bow" he said. "All of my critics crawl...All of you suckers bow... If you wanna know any damn thing about boxing, don't go to no boxing experts in Las Vegas, don't go to no Jimmy The Greek. Come to Muhammad Ali."

He was parodied in an episode of The Simpsons, which is titled "Lisa the Greek".

Death

Snyder suffered from diabetes in his later years and died in Las Vegas of a heart attack on April 21, 1996 at the age of 77. He is buried at Union Cemetery in his native Steubenville.

References

  1. ^ Jimmy the Greek faces his longest odds in a family fight for life; People, 26 October 1981
  2. ^ Quoted verbatim from ESPN's 30 for 30 series titled The Legend of Jimmy the Greek which aired on November 10, 2009
  3. ^ Wilmington Morning Star, Jimmy 'The Greek" Dies of Heart Failure, p. 5C
  4. ^ a b c The Milwaukee Sentinel, Jimmy the Greek sues over firing, Part 1, Page 3

External links

  • Pace, Eric, "Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder, 76, Is Dead; a Sports Oddsmaker," The New York Times, 1996-04-22.
  • Find a Grave
  • CNN SI item on Jimmy
  • Commercial with Jimmy the Greek for Tuffy Auto Centers
  • Photo
  • , April 1988 (Article examining the validity of Jimmy Snyder's racial comments. "Jimmy the Greek got it wrong but so did his critics")Washington MonthlyArticle by Jonathan Rowe in
  • White, Jack E. (February 1, 1988). """Of Mandingo and Jimmy "the Greek.  
  • Jimmy the Greek Comments that got him fired on YouTube