HE’S ONLY 7, BUT ALREADY DAVID “Sparky” Mortimer has all the sportscasting tools. Like presence: The pint-size (4’1″) opinion machine from Alpine, Utah, never even gets butterflies, not when he’s helping out with spot play-by-play at a Brigham Young University football game or interviewing hulking jocks for Salt Lake City’s KUTV or schmoozing with David Letterman, who’s had him on twice as a guest. (“I don’t get stage fright,” says Sparky.) Plus, he’s got verbal agility. It wasn’t ESPN’s nick-name-meister (and Sparky’s idol) Chris Berman who first called the star of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets Alonzo “Oh, What a Beautiful” Mourning—it was Sparky!
Young Mortimer got his start when a Salt Lake City TV news reporter overheard him doing impromptu play-byplay for his father, David, at a BYU football game last year. She taped him, aired the result, and away Sparky went. Now, in addition to doing math homework for his second-grade teacher, Mrs. Holbrook, he also memorizes lineups and statistics. “Of course,” he says, practically indignant. But if this career doesn’t pan out, the veteran of peewee soccer and softball hopes to play sports professionally. (He’s got a teddy bear named after one on-field hero, Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien.)
Sparky, who has a 5-year-old brother, Danny, “has no idea of the magnitude of all this,” admits David, a paper-company salesman whose father, William James Mortimer, is publisher of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News. (Sparky’s mom, Shelley, is a housewife.) But with pro athletes asking Sparky how he’s scoring, hey—as Chris Berman might say—the kid could go all the way! No rush, though. “I’m young,” says Sparky, wise beyond his innings. “I like being young.”