Happy retirement, Mac McGarry

The Post brings news Mac McGarry is retiring after 50 years as host of It’s Academic. I was never on the TV show (too slow in mind, thumb or both?) but had Gonzaga friends who appeared, our senior year even winning the region championship. Going to see them play was a blast.

You walked past a dark George Michael Sports Machine on your way into the local NBC studio. You packed into the bleachers. You checked out the cheerleaders from the schools that had girls. You considered your chances of getting on TV. They panned to the crowd, you know?

You sat with your friends from the football team, the newspaper, the subway, the soup kitchen, and you got quiet before you got real loud. The theme song played. You went crazy as the director wanted. Then you stayed on the edge of your seat. Mac McGarry kicked off the game.

McGarry was the perfect host of the show. He was encouraging but on point. He was in charge but welcoming to all. He appeared to delight in calling the end of the game — the drama — and then telling the studio crowd to come down and congratulate the players — the community. I think he’s found a good successor in smart and likable Hillary Howard. Haven’t had a good “pajama day,” as the Post puts it, to see her yet.

The next extension of McGarry’s legacy? High school friend Justin, who led Gonzaga’s drive to that It’s Academic title, is set to appear Tuesday on the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. On the Facebook page for it, you see the same motley crew of classmates packing the bleachers.

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