But They're Truly a Pair for All Seasons
LESLEY VISSER IS TRYING HARD NOT TO sound, as she says, "totally nauseating" in describing her seemingly flawless nine-year marriage, but she is not being totally successful. After much intense concentration, the worst complaint she can muster against her husband, Dick Stockton, is he "can't drive for long stretches without having to take a nap." And don't look to Stockton for a bracing bit of bad news. "We never fight," he says, "because who's right and who's wrong doesn't matter."
If neither Stockton, 49, nor Visser, 39, keeps score within their marriage, that may be because they spend enough time keeping score on their jobs. He is a play-by-play announcer covering pro football, baseball and college basketball for CBS; she is one of the network's field reporters for those same sports, as well as a commentator on the weekly The NFL Today. Occasionally they work together; more often, though, he's calling a game in one time zone while she's interviewing athletes in another—a schedule that suits them perfectly. "We're together maybe four days a week," Visser says. "That way we don't get tired of each other."
They can spend time apart even when they're both in their Manhattan apartment (they also have a home in Boca Raton, Fla.). A testament to the rewards of big-time sportscasting, it fills an entire floor of a building on posh Sutton Place, Featuring 5½ bathrooms, a home gym and two kitchens, neither of which, Visser claims, has ever been used. "For years, I stored my sweaters in the oven," she says. Eating all their meals out, the only edibles they keep in their home are chocolate kisses. "The perfect food," says Visser. "They make people happy."
What makes Stockton happy is remembering the day in 1975 when the Red Sox beat the Cincinnati Reds in the sixth game of the World Series—the same day that he, an announcer for NBC, first met Visser, a young intern sportswriter with The Boston Globe. "Carlton Fisk hits that great home run," he recalls, "and that is still the biggest thrill that I've had as a broadcaster." Visser feigns indignation: "This is the love of my life, my husband," she exclaims, "and meeting me wasn't even the greatest thrill of his day!"
A few months later, they had their first dale, dinner at a Hungarian restaurant in Boston. Then the next day, at the Globe, Visser was amused to find an unsigned note in her typewriter: "Before you fall in love with Stockton, he was seen the last two nights with other girls in the Cafe Budapest." Defending himself, Dick can only shrug meekly and say, "They had great chicken paprikash."
Despite such stellar poultry, their relationship didn't take wing until 1982, when they met again on a plane while on their way to a Los Angeles Lakers game. When Stockton said he was staying at the pricey Beverly-Wilshire Hotel, Visser recalls, "I said, 'Me, too.' But, of course, newspaper reporters don't slay at places like that. I just wanted to be around him. I was older by then and really taken by his intelligence, humor and confidence." She footed the hotel tab herself, and three months later, while they were on their way to enjoy a game at Yankee Stadium, Stockton proposed. They married in January 1983. "We invited lots of our spoils reporter friends, recalls Visser, "plus all these sports personalities, so everybody was interviewing each other." (Of an earlier 1970 marriage, Stockton will say only that he was wed for "three seasons.") Neither wants children ("There was never a debate about it," says Visser), content to be childlike themselves. "We make fun of everything," says Stockton. "I'm 12 years old, and she's 11."
Both, in fact, were about that age when they decided on careers as sports reporters. Stockton inherited form his father—a New York City printer and die-hard Giants fan—a passion for both writing and baseball. At Syracuse University. he worked at the campus radio station; by the mid-'70s, he was the local TV voice of the Red Sox. Visser's love of sports was passed down through her big brother. Chris, and her mother, a "big Notre Dame fan" and high school English teacher. The Quincy, Mass., native majored in English at Boston College and in 1976 became the first woman on the NFL beat when the Globe assigned her to cover the New England Patriots. Four years later she did a few sports features for CBS, and in 1988 she became a regular sportscaster.
As their 10th anniversary approaches, "Everything is working," says Visser. "We love our jobs. We love each other." Stockton agrees. "When I married Lesley," he says succinctly. "I signed a lifetime contract."
MARY HUZINEC in New York City
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