Monday, January 28, 2013

MEMORABLE SPORTS' BROADCAST CALLS

The living legend: the great Vin Scully on the jumbotron (Source: Mike McCann's Field of Fotos)

Felipe M

This past week, ESPN paid homage to the “Sunshine Showdown,” a boxing event that pitted two all-time greats in Joe Frazier and George Foreman 40 years ago.  More importantly, this is where the iconic Howard Cosell’s signature call (well, one of many signature calls) of “Down goes Frazier!” was born.  Even though Cosell would be known for that call, it is worth mentioning that he was fantastic throughout the fight, giving us memorable quips such as:
  • “I think [Foreman] hurt Joe Frazier. I think Joe is hurt.” (moments before the first knockdown)
  • “AND FOREMAN IS AS POISED AS CAN BE!” (after the first knockdown).
  • “Frazier is DAZED! HE is getting hit AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN!”
  • “FRAZIER IS DOWN AGAIN and he may be—NO! HE IS RISING! HE IS DAZED! HE DOESN’T KNOW WHERE HE IS!”
  • “DOWN AGAIN! NO SAVING BY THE BELL!”
  • “HE IS DOWN! HE IS DOWN FOR THE FOURTH TIME IN THE FIGHT!”
  • “IT IS TARGET PRACTICE FOR GEORGE FOREMAN! IT IS TARGET PRACTICE!”

Bleacher Report did a pretty good countdown of memorable sports’ calls.  So I asked our sports panel to share what their favorite broadcast call of all time is.

“’The Music City Miracle’: Titans pull off a win against the Buffalo Bills in a Wildcard game thanks to a trick play on special teams.”—Johnny J.

Signature Call: Mike Keith and Pat Ryan were calling the game for the Tennessee Titans and Johnny acknowledges Keith’s call of “There are no flags on the field” and “Tennessee has pulled a miracle” as the calls that make the play memorable, but Ryan commenting “He’s got something,” as Kevin Dyson runs it back down the sideline towards the end zone makes this a prime example of two broadcasters with great chemistry calling an exciting play. 

Dan Plotsky chose Al Michaels’ call on the 1980 USA Hockey Team’s upset of the hated, rival Soviet Union as not only his favorite broadcast call, but also “the second most important moment in American [sports outside of] Jesse Owens in Germany 1936.”

(How about Jackie Robinson breaking the color-barrier?--Ed)

Signature Call: “Do you believe in miracles? YES!”

C. McLain picked Johnny Most’s Havlicek Stole the Ball” call of Game 7 of the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals.

Donny Rodriguez shares this little anecdote with us:

“My memorable call was the Ron Santo and Pat Hughes radio call from the Brant Brown dropped fly ball in Milwaukee that almost cost the Chicago Cubs a shot at the 1998 wildcard.  I was in the nurse’s office after school hours, waiting for my parents to pick me up after ralphing in the bathroom and the nurse had the radio on.  When Santo screamed like a whipped dog, "Oh No!" the nurse said to me, no lie, “Well, you won't be the only one throwing up today."
Ron Santo lived his life a die-hard Cubs' fan;
He died as a long-life Cubs' fan.
Currently residing in Cooperstown.
(photo courtesy of Ed Mancia)
I too remember how devastated I was when Brown dropped the ball, but I did not panic like most Cubs’ fans.  A lot of people called the local sports radio shows and were ready to call off the season, commit suicide, or pull off other melodramatic stunts when Brown dropped the ball.  But I remembered, as a 15 year-old kid, trying to figure out why so many people were frantic about this one game.  As far as I was concerned, the Cubs still had a good chance of making the playoffs.  What I didn't expect was that they would have to play a one-game playoff for that playoff spot, but regardless. 

But fans, everywhere, were quick to point out the goofy Cubs’ history about being cursed and how good, winning seasons can’t be enjoyed because the Cubs will find a way to “Cub it up” in the end.  I, on the other hand, thought it was a new age and era in 1998 and it was time to distance ourselves from the bad history and make our own history.  It is an ethos I carry to this day as a Cubs’ fan, but, admittedly, I sometimes wonder about this team and their string of bad luck.  2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, etc…

I have a few of my own to share.

June 2, 1992, Harry Caray was calling an extra-inning game between the Cubs and the San Diego PadresRyne Sandberg is at second; Andre Dawson is at first; Mark Grace is at the plate.  This is how the rest of the game went:

“There goes a double! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN!”

Typical Harry, making every game seem like it was the World Series.  Grace drove the ball down the right field line scoring Sandberg from 2nd base.  Even though Harry is known for his “Way back, way back…it might be…it could be… IT IS!” homerun calls, any ball that he saw go down the 1st or 3rd base lines or hit the wall in the gaps, was an automatic “double” for him.  Even though Grace gets credit for a single, as far as Harry was concerned, any ball hit down the lines, should be an easy double. 

The Chicago White Sox play-by-play announcer, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, is notorious for his array of catchphrases
“He gone!”
“Mercy!”
“Duck snort”
“There’s a can of corn”
“Sacks packed with Sox”
“You gotta be bleepin’ me!”
“Dag gummit”
“Stretch…stretch…he looks up…you can put it on the bbbooooooaaaarrrrdddddd…YES!!!”
“This game is OVAH!”

But ultimately, my favorite broadcast calls of all time involve Vin Scully.  Might just be the greatest broadcaster of all time.  I envy Los Angeles for having this treasure right in their own backyard.  Game 6 of the 1986 World Series call of Mookie Wilson’s dribbler down the first base line, which eventually goes right through Bill Buckner’s legs, still brings me chills:

“Behind the BAG! IT GETS THROUGH BUCKNER!”

Nevertheless, one of the greatest moments in MLB history involves two, outstanding, nationally aired broadcast calls.  Game 1 of the 1988 World Series where Kirk Gibson hits a homerun off Dennis Eckersley provided us with two legendary broadcasters giving us two of the greatest calls of all time.  One from Scully and the other one from Jack Buck:

  • “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!”
  • “UNBELIEVABLE…I don’t believe what I just saw! I DON’T BELIEVE WHAT I JUST SAW!”
Feel free to share your favorite sports’ calls in the comments’ section below.

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