December 22, 2009
The Hobey Baker Award is given annually to the top male NCAA hockey player. Its namesake, Hobey Baker, was a star athlete between 1911-1914 before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force, where he was a pilot during World War I. Tragically, he died in a postwar plane crash in Toul, France in 1918, at age 26.
Funny stuff, right? At least it was to Pittsburgh Penguins announcer Paul Steigerwald of Fox Sports Pittsburgh, who cracked one of the most awkward on-air jokes in recent memory last night during their game against the New Jersey Devils.
For the video-less, a quick transcript:
Bob Errey: "The Hobey Baker winner went down, real hard. Our Subway sandwich of the game."
Paul Steigerwald: "Not as hard as Hobey Baker went down, though. He went down in a plane crash."
Then there's some muttering and giggling; with Steigerwald apparently realizing that he wasn't at the Friar's Club, saying he wasn't trying to make light of "how he left us," while asking Errey not to "start" as the laughing begins.
As Adam Gretz points out, Baker was actually killed 91 years to the day of Steigerwald's comment. Who says he doesn't have comedic timing?
Now, we're nearing a century removed from the incident, so it's not exactly "too soon" for this punchline. We were ready to excuse it, actually ... until reader John Mozena hit us on Twitter with the following: "Hobey was friends w/ my grandfather, flew in WW1 together. I'm not a PC/sensitive guy but I thought it was classless."
OK, fair enough. This is getting enough play to the point where an on-air apology during the next Pens' broadcast is likely.