DALLAS — Have you ever heard about that time Dale Hansen wrestled a bear? This is not the beginning of a terrific joke. It’s the beginning of a true story and it’s how the legendary sportscaster wound up in Dallas in the first place.
First, let’s rewind to the late 1970s when Hansen was a sportscaster in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I really was the fourth rated sportscaster in a three-station market,” Hansen quipped on a special edition of Y’all-itics.
Hansen said they held a boat show at the civic auditorium every year. And one year in particular, the boat show brought out a bear for visitors to wrestle.
“This guy walks up to me and said hey Hansen, you want to put on a show for the crowd, right? I say yeah. He says hit that bear as hard as you can. He said you cannot hurt the bear. And the more you hit the bear, the more he’ll respond.”
Known to put on a show himself, Hansen did just that. Keep in mind, he says the bear is just sitting there on all fours and appears completely disinterested.
“They introduce me, and I just come flying across the stage as fast as I could because I was younger and thinner, and I could actually run a little bit in those days. And I just went full bore into a tackle on that bear and I swear to you and he kind of went <shrugs his shoulders> and just reached over and bit me. He didn’t even budge,” Hansen said through laughter. “This bear pinned me three times.”
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Soon after that, Hansen said he got fired from his job in Omaha.
He didn’t have any audition tapes, so he called a buddy who did have some tape. It was Hansen wrestling the bear at the boat show.
Hansen said he sent that tape to a headhunter in New York City he found in the back of a magazine. That headhunter, in turn, sent the tape to Channel 4 in Dallas, which was the CBS affiliate at the time.
“The general manager calls me in for my interview and he said if we hire you, will you wrestle a bear? And I figured what are the odds? What are the odds? I said sure, I’ll wrestle a bear. If you can find me a bear, I’ll wrestle it,” said Hansen.
About six months later, there was a boat show at the Convention Center in Dallas. And guess what was there? A bear. And Hansen was wrestling once again.
“He beat the hell out of me.”
Hansen thinks it might have been the same bear and that’s the story he’s telling all these years later.
Hansen would join WFAA three years later on March 28, 1983. Earlier this week, he announced his last day on air at WFAA will be Sept. 2.