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Sports Authority

Adams: Best calls in sports history

| Friday, October 2, 2020

A lot of the time I think that even I could do a better job than sports commentators and broadcasters. Far too often those goobers are redundant mouthpieces rehashing the obvious play that I just witnessed with my own eyes.

Sometimes they are spitting nonsense looking for some way to fill content. At their worst, they are trying to appeal to an audience of non-sports fans — who may or may not have flipped to the game in question — with some of the most awkward bits and segments imaginable, while us real sports fans have to suffer through it.

Don’t misunderstand. Some quality broadcasters bring insight and entertainment to the games they cover. However, there are a very select few who absolutely nail it.

They are the ones who validate the existence of the sports broadcaster. They do so not just by being insightful or entertaining, but by imparting some of the most memorable phrases and utterances in not just sports lore, but all of human history (or so sports fanatics such as I like to think).

As they say, it ”gets the people going.” This is an homage to those individuals. I hereby present the best calls in the history of sports.

  1. “Down Goes Frazier”

This one is weird to me. The moment I heard it while looking for great sports calls, I recognized it as an all-time great line, but I’ve rarely ever heard it brought up. Even so, I just feel in my heart of hearts that it deserves a place on this list. George Forman knocking down World Champion Joe Frazier wasn’t even the knockout blow, but the call is an all-timer for the excitement Howard Cosell brought to it.

  1. “American Pharaoh… has won… the Triple Crown!”

This is here for no other reason than because it is one of the rarest athletic accomplishments of any sport, if not the rarest, so it isn’t too difficult to come up with a memorable call for it. I could elaborate, but I think I’ll just let Larry Collmus describe it:

“And here it is. The 37-year wait is over! American Pharaoh is finally the one! American Pharaoh has won the Triple Crown!”

  1. “The Band is out on the field!”

In the 1982 rendition of “The Big Game” rivalry between Stanford and Cal Berkeley, Stanford’s marching band would cause one of the most (in)famous moments in the history of college football. Down one and with time expired, Cal managed to pull off a game-winning score thanks to five lateral passes.

However, it appeared to the Stanford Band that one lateral came after a Bears player had his knee down, so they stormed the field while play was still commenced. One of the band members was bulldozed by the ball carrier as he made it into the endzone. Cal announcer Joe Starkey left us this fantastic line that encapsulated “The Play,” as it would come to be known.

Aside from this game, The Play would provide the first red mark on the Stanford Band’s now checkered ledger (check out their Wikipedia page; some of that stuff is crazy).

  1. “Auburn’s gonna win the football game!”

Believe me, I wanted to put this one first, but I think you can probably agree that No. 1 is just too iconic. As someone who wasn’t even legitimately into college football before getting to college, this was something to hear. To this day it gives me chills to hear it as Auburn runs back the “kick-six” against No. 1 Alabama. Rest in peace, Rod Bramblett.

  1. “Do you believe in Miracles?”

You may have thought of this one from Al Michaels the moment you started reading this story, and who could blame you? The U.S.A. hockey team was a massive underdog to the U.S.S.R. in the semifinals of the 1980 Olympics. They managed to best the Soviets behind outstanding play from goalie Jim Craig and a go-ahead goal by Mike Eruzione — a goal which sparked one of the best celebrations ever.

Honorable Mention:

“And Boom Goes the Dynamite”

This is a TOUGH exclusion from the top-5. If you haven’t seen the clip, check it out immediately. Pure gold.

Then-Ball State student Brian Collins was taking part in a sports broadcasting program for students and, put bluntly, did horribly in his first live, on-air segment. However, he managed to come up with one of the most iconic sports lines in recent memory. It’s so great that no one even cares about how terrible the rest of his VERY short-lived broadcasting career was.

“Trouble with the snap”

One of the most satisfying calls for anyone who dislikes that team up in Ann Arbor, rivaled only by “Appalachian State has stunned the college football world!

Down 23-21 with 10 seconds left, Michigan State’s prayers were answered as archrival Michigan’s punter bobbled the snap, giving the Spartans enough time to force a fumble which they promptly returned for the game-winning score with no time remaining.

It’s worth watching the replay just to see the faces of Jim Harbaugh and that bespectacled Michigan fan with his hands on his head in disbelief. The announcer’s voice cracking is just icing on the cake.

“And… there’s a steal by Bird! / Havlicek steals it!”

A shoutout for the Boston fans out there. Gotta love those old grainy voices on the call for two of the greatest defensive plays in NBA Playoff history, one by Larry Bird and the other by John Havlicek.

“Ding Dong, the witch is dead!”

If you haven’t watched the ESPN 30 for 30 entitled “Winning Time” about Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers warring with the New York Knicks in the mid-90’s, check it out. Patrick Ewing missed a gimme of a finger roll in game 7 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals to allow the Pacers to finally advance with a 107-105 win.

In adulation, the Pacer’s broadcast crew pulled out a reference to The Wizard of Oz as Indiana finally got over their personal wicked witch of the west (well, technically northeast, but you get the idea).

“Flutie did it!”

If you’ve watched an NBC broadcast of a Notre Dame football game in the last few years, you’ve probably heard reference to Doug Flutie’s legendary Hail-Mary pass to beat Miami. Here is the conversation that transpired between Boston College radio announcers:

“Looks, uncorks a deep one for the endzone…”

“Oh, he got it!”

“Did he get it?”

“He got it!”

“Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown Boston College! He did it! He did it! Flutie did it! He got [Gerard] Phelan to the endzone! Touchdown!”

Gotta love that energy.

“That’s a bold strategy, Cotton”

One of the greatest, yet oft misquoted (not “bold move, Cotton”), lines in cinematic history. ‘Nuff said.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

Contact Hayden