media, Sports, Toronto

Cabbie On The Street leaving The Score – a big loss for sports fans

Playing with Mike Green's hair: Typical Cabbie interaction with the athletes

I was saddened this week to hear that Cabral “Cabbie” Richards will be leaving The Score (a 24-hour sports channel in Canada) after nearly a decade of service. He was one of my favourite interviewers and he will be sorely missed.

Richards was known for his popular “Cabbie On The Street” segments where he got real up and close with athletes and fans, posing unusual questions, which usually resulted in unusually entertaining responses. His approach was like none other I had seen before – he was uber-enthusiastic, literally getting right in the face of athletes and fans alike, almost like they had been his friends for years. And the reactions of the athletes was just as unusual. In a world where every little spark of honesty, character, and individuality (i.e. straying from the overused cliche-ridden responses)  is either criticized or over-analyzed to the max, seeing the way Cabbie interacted with those he interviewed was a breath of fresh air for those yearning for an entertaining, yet somewhat informative interview.

Here’s a video featuring some of his greatest moments at The Score:

While that video, which was created for the occasion of his departure, includes some of his more famous interviews, including Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Tony Hawk and his escapades while covering the Stanley Cup playoffs, I personally enjoyed some of his so-called classic bits, where he would ask hockey players what they thought about the “hockey smell” or how they took naps (I can’t think of any other interviewer who has that awesome of a rapport with hockey players… where else do you see hockey players being so animated in their interviews?), or when he went to the NBA All-Star game and asked players if they could be the best man at his wedding (classic!), or the anatomy of the handshake.

Fans imitating Cabbie's style to the man himself

He also tended to “bother” athletes that he had stronger rapport with, as you can obviously notice in his Kobe Bryant interviews. Other notable victims included Vernon Wells, Morris Peterson, Alex Steen, Dion Phaneuf, Jarome Iginla, Chris Bosh and the Staal brothers (playing the role of the “other brother” to Eric, Marc and Jordan, delivering lunch money from mom.)

Besides the best man and hockey smell bits, my other personal favourites included when he played street hockey in an Israeli hockey jersey, his bits when he visited Israel – at the Canada Center, interviewing Dr. Ruth at a baseball diamond (I couldn’t find those videos but I did find this one.)

His style and popularity was also responsible for The Score bringing on similar personalities and bits such as Gerry D and The Basketball Jones, both of which are extremely entertaining and reasons how The Score differs from the other all-Sports channels in Canada (and why that’s a good thing).

In 2009, I completely missed out on the opportunity to meet Cabbie as he came to speak at my university. The purpose of the visit to Centennial College’s CCC Campus was to be interviewed by fellow journalism students as part of an assignment we had for our interviewing class (we had to prepare an interview with someone who our professor hooked up for us and we’d be marked on our performance/how the interview went). Unfortunately Cabbie was not one of the the celebrities chosen for my class and he was instead brought in for another class (along with Allan Cross, another one of my favourite media personalities). And as I faintly recall, our class had the option to sit in on the other class’s interviews – to which I honestly had no clue Cabbie was gonna be there or I must’ve had to run home because it was late on a Friday afternoon and the Sabbath was approaching (that’s the life…)

Here’s a clip of the interview, where he talked about his own style and approach to conducting interviews:

If you’re reading this Cabbie, I hope I get to meet you soon… As both a fan and an aspiring, wannabe journalist, I really appreciate and enjoy your work and hope to become half the interviewer you are.

Best of luck to whatever comes your way!

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