Al Michaels has been everywhere over the course of his 52 year (and counting) career. Many remember his call of the 1980 Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid, NY when the Americans miraculously beat the Soviet Union in the semifinals of the Olympic Men’s Hockey tournament. It is certainly no miracle that he won the Ford Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting.
Michaels started his career broadcasting for the Arizona State Baseball team while he was still a student there. Once he graduated, he got a temporary job with the Hawaii Islanders Minor League team until he got an opportunity to call the Cincinnati Reds games. Michaels continued up the ranks of baseball broadcasters when he became the play-by-play broadcaster for the San Francisco Giants. Once that stint was over, he gained enough popularity and started to broadcast on the national level.
Michaels transformed the broadcast of baseball on the national level into the success it is today. ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball and FOX’s Saturday Night Baseball owe a great deal of gratitude towards Michaels. No wonder he will be honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in July along with other baseball greats.
Michaels began to acquire some roles in the hockey press booth while he was gaining popularity with Sunday Night Baseball on ABC. He never broadcasted for hockey on a local level, only the national level. No one will ever forget his appearance on the international level however.
In 1980, Michaels was assigned to call most of the US National Team hockey games in the Olympics. He is solely responsible for bringing the attention to this gold medal team as well as providing patriotism and optimism in a time of conflict and war. Before the Olympics started that year, Michaels noted “People didn’t know the difference between a blue line and a clothes line”. This was sure to change.
For many Americans, hockey was still new to them. The sports flipped upside down after the Americans beat the Soviets in that immortal game. Michaels was on the call for that game and famously asked viewers at the end “Do you believe in miracles?” That question still rings in the minds of many today and is one of the greatest phrases of all time in the history of communication.
Perhaps his most famous role is his role in NBC’s Sunday Night Football which has topped primetime television ratings since its existence. Before he got his famed current role as the color commentator for primetime football, Michaels worked a lengthy career at ABC. Specifically, his role was alongside John Madden calling Monday Night Football. This was until 2006 when Madden retired and NBC recruited Michaels. In order to acquire the instrumental Michaels for their Sunday Night Football plan, NBC had to trade the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s original animated creation. So yes, Michaels did get “traded” for a nonhuman possession.
Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have been broadcasting partners for 14 years and counting for NBC and have some famed traditions such as the “Collinsworth Slide”. Many have speculated that Michaels will retire after next year’s Super Bowl which NBC will call. That will be Michaels’ 11th Super Bowl, tying him with Pat Summerall for most Super Bowl’s called.
8 World Series, 10 Super Bowls, 4 Stanley Cups, 2 NBA Finals, 1 Miracle on Ice. Al Michaels, sports fans cannot thank you enough for your work in sports and your role in transforming it into the cultural phenomenon we know and love today.