EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Houston broadcast media legend reveals details of infamous Astros scoop

Here's the scoop. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

Retiring Houston Chronicle legend John McClain got it right in his farewell to the troops last week.

“I’ll miss hanging out at the Texans with Mark Berman, sports director at KRIV, another close friend of more than 40 years and the best reporter I’ve ever seen.”

Several years ago, I was playing a neighborhood pickup basketball game with Steve Patterson, then the Houston Rockets general manager. I asked him, “How come you give all your scoops to Mark Berman at Channel 26? Don’t the other TV stations get mad at you?”

Patterson answered, “I don’t play favorites. I don’t call Berman and give him Rockets stories. He’s the only TV guy who stops by my office every day and asks what’s up? If someone in the media asks what’s going on, I’ll tell them. Berman just happens to be the only one who does that.”

To be fair, none of the current batch of local sports anchors was around when Patterson told me that. The others have upped their game, and by that I mean they actually show up for games and work the beat. What a concept!

Still there’s no harder worker than Berman in Houston broadcast media. He’s a bulldog, all right. He’s old school.

Two weeks ago, in the wee hours of a weekend, Berman landed one of his biggest scoops – Carlos Correa shocking the baseball world and breaking the hearts of Astros fans by signing a 3-year, $105 million contract with the Minnesota Twins. Around that time, rumors were flying that Correa appeared likely to stay with Houston. Even Astros players in Florida for spring training were stoked that their shortstop might soon be in camp. Minnesota came straight out of leftfield. Only Berman got the story.

Here’s the scoop on Berman’s scoop.

SportsMap: Given the way journalism operates today, and your reputation and drive to break stories, how did you get your Correa news to the public? It was late at night.

Berman: I immediately reported the information on my Twitter account.

SportsMap: Did you ask Channel 26 to break into programming with a “Bulletin” or “Breaking News?”

Berman: Not at 12:41 a.m. in Houston.

SportsMap: When you get hold of a scoop like this, do you fear that somebody else has the story, too?

Berman: While I was in the moment I didn’t have time to think about anything but get the information and get it on Twitter. Of course I was thrilled to be first. Who wouldn’t be with a story of that magnitude?

SportsMap: Have you ever had a scoop that turned out not true and you had to eat it?

Berman: Certainly I’ve had a couple of stories where I interviewed people on the record and their information was wrong or just didn’t pan out. I’m guessing there’s been a story or two based on sources where the information originally checked out and ended up not being right. I’m extremely cautious when dealing with off-the-record information and that’s cost me a number of stories, because if I can’t get comfortable I just don’t do anything.

SportsMap: Give me your Top 5 scoops from your career.

Berman: Considering I’ve been doing this for 44 years, 42 in Houston, 36 at FOX26, it’s hard to create a list like that. So I figured I’d go back five years and list five in no particular order, based on the significance and in a couple cases being surprises.

1. Tilman Fertitta buying the Rockets.

2. Rudy Tomjanovich getting elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

3. Michael Brantley re-signing with the Astros when it was being reported he was joining Toronto.

4. Most recently we had an exclusive interview with former Texans safety Justin Reid who signed with the Chiefs.

5. Carlos Correa reaching an agreement with the Twins.

SportsMap: You live for this, right?

Berman: 24/7, 365.

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