"The first year that I became a manager, 1969, with the Twins, I won a division championship. And got fired. The Tigers hired me. I had made $35,000 and the Tigers gave me a big raise. I won another division title and got fired again. Texas hired me, and with a bigger raise. I came in second, and got fired. The Yankees hired me, and tripled my salary, When I got fired there, and Oakland hired me - they gave me an unbelievalbe raise. I've got a long-term contract now, but if I get fired again, I might run for President."
Alan Richard Michaels is one of the best television
sportscasters of the past 30 years and has broadcast many of the most
memorable moments in sports in that time. Since 1977, he has been employed
by ABC Sports and has been one of the most prominent and respected members
of his profession. Michaels is best known for his broadcast of the Miracle
on Ice, where he said the famous quote "Do you believe in
Michaels has won numerous awards during his career, including the Emmy
Award for Outstanding Sports Personality (Play-by-Play Host) four times,
the NSSA Award from the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters
Association three times (he was also inducted into their Hall of Fame in
1998), and "Sportscaster of the Year" once each from the
American Sportscasters Association and the Washington Journalism Review.
In October 2004, Michaels was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of
To date, Michaels is one of two sportscasters to be a play-by-play
voice or host for the championships of the four major American pro sports,
having called The Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Championships and the
Stanley Cup Finals (the latter as a host, not play-by-play). In addition,
Michaels has served as host for all three Triple Crown races and the
Indianapolis 500. Baseball Hall of Famer Bob Wolff has also called the
championships of the four majors, with the difference that Wolff's initial
NFL Championship coverage came before the Super Bowl era. Marv Albert has
been the play-by-play voice of the Super Bowl, NBA Finals and the Stanley
Cup Finals and a post-game field reporter for NBC's World Series coverage.
Early Life and Career
Michaels attended Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles,
California, where he was a football and baseball player. Michaels
graduated from high school in 1962. He later attended Arizona State
University, where he majored in radio and television and minored in
journalism. He worked as a sports writer for ASU's independent student
newspaper, The State Press, and is rumored to have been fired from that
publication. He was also a brother of Sigma Nu Fraternity. He began his
broadcasting career in Hawaii in 1968, calling the games of the Hawaii
Islanders baseball team in the Pacific Coast League. He also called
play-by-play for the University of Hawaii's football and basketball teams,
and was named Hawaii's "Sportscaster of the Year" in 1969.
In 1971 Michaels moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became the lead
announcer for the Cincinnati Reds
of Major League Baseball. That year, he made his first historic call ever.
In Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, with the Reds
trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 in the 9th inning, Johnny Bench was at
the plate with one ball and two strikes and on the next pitch Al said
"1-2 the wind and the pitch to Bench, change hit in the air to deep
right field, back goes Clemente at the fence...it's gone!!!" The Reds
would win that game 4-3 and advanced to the World Series. He covered the
World Series in 1972 for NBC Sports.
In 1974 he moved on to a similar position with the San
Francisco Giants, and also covered basketball for UCLA and regional
NFL games for CBS Sports before signing with ABC in 1977. Since then, he
has covered a wide variety of sports for the network, including Major
League Baseball, college football, ice hockey, track and field events,
figure skating, and many events of the Olympic Games.
Monday Night Football
His longest-running assignment was that of the lead play-by-play
announcer on ABC's Monday
Night Football telecasts, which he began in 1986. Before that,
Michaels most notable NFL assignment for ABC was hosting the pre-game
coverage of Super Bowl XIX. In 1988, Michaels called his first Super Bowl.
Three years later, Michaels was on hand to call the thrilling Super Bowl
between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills. When Bills kicker Scott
Norwood, missed a potentially game winning field goal (and thus, ensuring
the Giants victory), Michaels simply described the play by calmly
proclaiming "No good! Wide-right!"
The trio of Michaels, Dan Dierdorf (who joined Monday Night Football
the year after Michaels' first), and Frank Gifford lasted until the 1997
season, when Gifford was replaced following disclosure of an extra-marital
affair. Michaels briefly became the center of controversy due to a verbal
slip on the final Monday night game of the 1998 season (between the
Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers on December 28). Michaels
said, "No shit" in response to a question posed by Dan Dierdorf
about Buffalo Bills quarterback Doug Flutie. Dierdorf said to Michaels
about the halftime interview with Doug Flutie, "Are you gonna tell 'em
how you're sick of all this B.C. stuff?" It turned out that Michaels
thought that a commercial break was going on and that his microphone was
turned off. Incidentally, Michaels reportedly opposes the FCC's attempts
to tighten censorship rules, saying that there are much more important
things to worry about than trying to protect people from every little
Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason replaced Gifford
in 1998, and Dierdorf was dropped after that season. Esiason and Michaels
reportedly never got along, and it led to ABC firing Esiason shortly after
the calling Super Bowl XXXIV together. Esiason complained to the New York
Times that Michaels "could have been better for me, and I tried with
him, but it never clicked with me because he never wanted it to click.”
To that, Michaels gave a terse response to Esiason's claims in a released
statement: "I will not join in this juvenile vitriol."
Unexpectedly, comedian Dennis Miller joined the cast in 2000 along with
Dan Fouts. The move was a bust, and in 2002, John Madden joined him in a
In 2005, it was announced that Monday Night Football would be moving
from ABC to ESPN beginning with the 2006 season. Despite speculation that
Michaels might be joining NBC Sports to broadcast that network's
forthcoming Sunday night NFL package, he opted for a contract with ESPN to
continue as the MNF play-by-play announcer through 2013. Plans were for
Michaels to be teamed with Joe Theismann on the Monday night telecasts.
National Basketball Association
In 2003, Michaels was named the lead announcer for ABC's telecasts of
the National Basketball Association, replacing Brad Nessler. Michaels
first teamed with Doc Rivers, but Rivers was named head coach of the
Boston Celtics on April 29, 2004. When Hubie Brown resigned his post as
coach of the Memphis Grizzlies in late November, The NBA on ABC hired
Brown, who previously had been an analyst for CBS Sports and Turner
Sports' NBA coverage, to sit courtside with
In his first two years as lead broadcaster for the NBA, Michaels
broadcast six regular season games per season (approximately one-third of
the network's total telecasts) with all but one of those games airing from
either Los Angeles or Sacramento.
During the playoffs, Michaels broadcast six games per season, even opting
not to broadcast Game 1 of the 2005 Western Conference Finals. Michaels
has been criticized for his perceived lack of interest in the NBA by some outlets, namely the
tabloid New York Post.
The Miracle on Ice
Two of Michaels' more famous broadcasts were of the 1980
Winter Olympics ice hockey medal round match between the United States
and the Soviet Union, and the attempted third game of the 1989 World
In 1980, an unheralded group of amateur ice hockey players from the
United States won the Gold Medal at the Olympic Winter Games. The medal
round match on February 22—which, contrary to popular belief, did not
assure the team of the gold medal—was of particular interest, as it was
played against a heavily favored squad from the Soviet Union, and was in
front of a partisan American crowd in Lake Placid, New York whipped into a
patriotic fervor by the Cold War. Michaels' memorable broadcast of this game, including his
interjection—"Do you believe in miracles? YES!"—as
time expired on the 4-3 U.S. victory, earned the game the media nickname
of "The Miracle on Ice."
Michaels along with broadcasting partner, Ken Dryden, recreated their
Olympic commentary in the 2004 movie Miracle.
Although Michaels and Dryden recreated the bulk of their commentary for
the film, the closing seconds of the game against the Soviet Union used
the actual original ABC Sports commentary from 1980. Gavin O'Connor, the director of Miracle, decided to use the last 10
seconds of Michaels' original "Do you believe in miracles?"
call in the film because he felt he couldn't ask him to recreate the
emotion he experienced at that moment. Thus they cleaned up the recording
to make the transition to the authentic call as seamlessly as possible.
1989 World Series
On October 17, 1989, Michaels was in San Francisco, California,
preparing to cover the third game of the 1989 World Series between the
home team, the Giants, and the visiting Oakland Athletics. ABC's network
telecast began with a recap of the first two games, both won by Oakland.
Soon after Michaels handed off to his broadcast partner, Tim McCarver, who
started assessing the Giants' chances for victory in the game, the Loma
Prieta earthquake struck. McCarver fell into a stunned silence, but
Michaels astutely said into the microphone, "I'll tell you what,
we're having an earth--!" just as it went dead, providing the
only concurrent broadcast account of what had happened. Audio was restored
minutes later (a green ABC Sports graphic replaced the picture though)
where Michaels, over a telephone line started off by trying to make light
of the chaotic situation by quipping that it was "The greatest
open in the history of television -- bar none!" After ABC
restored the telecast with a backup generator, Michaels gave an eyewitness
account of the aftermath at Candlestick
Park, the Giants' stadium, for which he later was nominated for an
Emmy Award for news broadcasting.
Al Michaels, Tim McCarver, and Jim Palmer remained a calm and reassuring presence in what could have been
a scene of panic. According to Tim McCarver, when the earthquake hit, he,
Michaels and Palmer immediately grabbed a hold of what they perceived to
be the armrests. In reality, the announcers were clutching on each others'
thighs and they were left with bruises the next day. Years later, Al
Michaels would boldly admit his strong belief that had the earthquake
lasted much longer than 15 seconds, he would've gotten killed. Michaels
added that the only time that he really got scared during the earthquake
was when he moved in a position which he perceived to be backward. The
three announcers were simply sitting on a ledge with their backs turned
and nothing else behind them in the booth.
1986 American League Championship Series
Even though the events of October 17, 1989 in San Francisco are widely
considered to be the most memorable baseball-related moment of Al
Michaels' career, three years earlier he was on hand for what he says was "the
greatest of all the thousands of games I've done."
On October 12, 1986 at Anaheim
Stadium, Michaels along with Jim Palmer called Game 5 of the American
League Championship Series. The California Angels held a 3 games to 1 lead
of a best-of-seven against the Boston Red Sox. In the game, the Angels
held a 5-2 lead going into the ninth inning. Boston scored two runs on a
hit by Wade Boggs and a home run by Don Baylor, closing the gap to 5-4.
When Donnie Moore came in to shut down the rally, there were two outs,
and a runner on first base, Rich Gedman, who had been hit by a pitch. The
Angels were one out from getting into the World Series for the very first
time in their existence. But Dave Henderson hit a 2-2 pitch off Moore for
a home run, giving the Red Sox a 6-5 lead. The Angels were able to score a
run in the bottom of the ninth, pushing the game into extra innings.
"The pitch . . . Deep to left and Downing goes back. And it's gone! Unbelievable! You're looking at one for the
ages here. Astonishing! Anaheim
Stadium was one strike away from turning into Fantasyland!
And now the Red Sox lead 6-5! The Red Sox get four runs in the ninth
on a pair of two-run homers by Don Baylor and Dave Henderson."
- Michaels on the call. He also said, "Dave Henderson, its a
long way from Seattle." Pointing out that Dave Henderson had
played for the last place Seattle
Mariners earlier in 1986.
Moore continued to pitch for the Angels. He was able to stifle a 10th
inning Red Sox rally by getting Jim Rice to ground into a double play.
Nevertheless, the Red Sox were able to score off Moore in the 11th-inning
via a sacrifice fly by Henderson. The Angels could not score in the bottom
of the 11th, and lost the game 7-6.
The defeat still left the Angels in a 3 games to 2 advantage, with two
more games to play at Fenway Park. The Angels were not able to recover,
losing both games by wide margins, 10-4 and 8-1.
Game 7 of the 1986 ALCS ended with Calvin Schiraldi striking out Jerry
Narron. Just prior to the moment, Michaels set-up the situation by
summarizing the Red Sox's dramatic come back in the series. "The
Red Sox can go from last rites to the World Series...and they do!"
Michaels currently resides in Los Angeles, California (although he has
often called games with a slight Brooklyn accent). Since August 27, 1966,
Al Michaels has been married to Linda Anne Stamaton. Al and Linda have two
children together, Steven and Jennifer.
Al's younger brother, David is a television producer. David Michaels
has produced such programs as NBC's coverage of the Triple Crown and Fox
Sports Net's Beyond the Glory series.
It was Michaels who explained to Peter Jennings that Jennings had
been the victim of a prank call in the final hour of O. J. Simpson's
Bronco chase, after the Bronco had pulled into Simpson's driveway and
parked. The prankster, claiming to be watching Simpson inside the van,
described what he said to be the scene in perfect Stepin Fetchit
dialect, then signed off with "...and Baba Booey to y'all."
Michaels (unlike Jennings, apparently) understood the prankster's use
of the term as an association of being a Howard Stern fan. Michaels
is, himself, a Howard Stern fan, and has discussed that prank call as
a guest on Stern's show.
Brian d'Arcy James portrayed Michaels in the 2002 television movie Monday
Night Mayhem. Michaels has also been lampooned on several
occasions by noted impressionist, Frank Caliendo.
Episodes of Wide World of Sports featuring Michaels early in
his ABC career have been featured on least two separate occasions on
the ESPN Classic comedy series Cheap Seats. At one point
on Cheap Seats, Michaels' then dark, curly hairstyle drew sarcastic
comparisons to Quiet Riot lead singer Kevin DuBrow.
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