Al Michaels: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Al Michaels
Born November 12, 1944 (1944-11-12) (age 65)
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Occupation Sportscaster
Spouse(s) Linda Anne Stamaton (m. 1966–present) «start: (1966)»"Marriage: Linda Anne Stamaton to Al Michaels" Location: (linkback:
Children Steven and Jennifer
Parents Jay and Lila

Alan Richard "Al" Michaels (born November 12, 1944) is an American television sportscaster. Now employed by NBC Sports after nearly three decades (1977–2006) with ABC Sports, Michaels is one of the most prominent members of his profession. He is perhaps best known for his many years of calling play-by-play of National Football League games, including nearly two decades with Monday Night Football. He is also known for famous calls in other sports, including the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics and the earthquake-interrupted Game 3 of the 1989 World Series.


Life and career


Early life and education

Michaels was born in Brooklyn, New York to Jay Michaels and Lila (Ross). He grew up as a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. Coincidentally, at the time the Dodgers left Brooklyn, Michaels' family also moved to Los Angeles, California in 1958.[1][2] Michaels attended Alexander Hamilton High School in L.A., with Joel Siegel, Michele Lee and Michelle Phillips, and was a football and baseball player. He graduated in 1962 and 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. He was also a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity.

Early career

Michaels' first job in television was with Chuck Barris Productions, choosing women to appear on The Dating Game. His first sportscasting job came in 1964 when he was hired to do public relations for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was later hired by the team to serve eight games as a color commentator. He was fired after only four.[3]

Michaels resumed his professional broadcasting career 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 as well has high school football games, and was named Hawaii's "Sportscaster of the Year" in 1969.

Although he was an active media figure during the counterculture-dominated era of the late 1960s, he never embraced the hippie movement, like his contemporary, Tom Smothers.

In 1970, Michaels appeared as attorney Dave Bronstein in an episode of Hawaii Five-O called "Run, Johnny, Run" (Air date: January 14, 1970). The episode also featured a young Christopher Walken.

In 1971, Michaels moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became the lead announcer for the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball. Later that year, he began covering regional NFL telecasts for NBC Sports.

In Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, with the Reds, the Reds won 4-3 and advanced to the World Series. Michaels helped cover the Series for NBC, and was also the network's play-by-play man for the hockey coverage at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan.

In 1974, Michaels left the Reds for a similar position with the San Francisco Giants, and also covered basketball for UCLA. Leaving NBC, he called regional NFL games for CBS Sports in 1975 before signing with ABC Sports in January 1977.

ABC Sports


He initially joined ABC as the back-up announcer on Monday Night Baseball in 1977. The following year, he was promoted to be lead annnouncer and was at the network on a full-time basis.[3] Over the next three decades, Michaels covered a wide variety of sports for ABC, including Major League Baseball, college football, ice hockey, track and field events, horse racing, golf, boxing, figure skating, and many events of the Olympic Games as well as the Olympic trials.[4]

Episodes of Wide World of Sports featuring Michaels early in his ABC career have been featured at least two 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.

While at ABC, he aired many prominent events including serving as the studio host for the Stanley Cup Finals. Also, he served as host for the yearly Tiger Woods Monday night specials that aired in July or August.

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 Series.

In 1980, an unheralded group of college 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 yet 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.

Most assume that the game was broadcast live; but in reality, the game started at 5:05 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and ABC decided against pre-empting local and network news (on the East Coast) to carry the game live. Instead, most of it—including the entire third period—was broadcast within the regularly scheduled, prime-time telecast from 8:30 to 11 p.m. Eastern time (and on a six and a half hour delay on the West Coast from 8:30 to 11 p.m. Pacific Standard Time). Despite being on tape, the game was one of the highest-rated programs of the 1979-1980 television season and remains the most-watched ice hockey game in the history of American television.[citation needed]

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 seamless as possible.

He later recalled, "When I look back, obviously Lake Placid would be the highlight of my career. I can't think of anything that would ever top it. I can't dream up a scenario."

Ironically, Michaels was only on this particular assignment because he had done one hockey game, eight years prior. The game in question was the gold medal game (the Soviet Union vs. Czechoslovakia) of the 1972 Winter Olympics (on NBC) in Sapporo, Japan. Other announcers on the ABC Sports roster such as Keith Jackson, Frank Gifford, and Howard Cosell had never done a hockey game before. Michaels recalled this during a Real Sports interview in January 2009. Michaels also apparently, beat out WABC-AM and New York Islanders commentator George Michael for the assignment.[5][6]

Major League Baseball on ABC

1985 World Series

Perhaps Michaels' first historic call with ABC Sports while covering Major League Baseball occurred in what is now known by many as the Don Denkinger game. The Kansas City Royals trailed the St. Louis Cardinals 3 games to 1 in a series that was being panned for being low-scoring and dull. After a Royals win in St. Louis forced the action back to Kansas City, the sixth game was also low scoring. However this contest grew into a tense pitchers duel.

In the bottom of the 9th, pinch hitter Jorge Orta led off for the Royals against Cardinals pitcher Todd Worrell with Kansas City trailing 1-0 and hit a ground ball to first baseman Jack Clark. Clark threw over to pitcher Worrell, who was running over to cover first base in time to beat the speedy Orta. Worrell appeared to do just that. Yet the call from first base umpire Don Denkinger was safe.

This infamous and controversial leadoff single led to the Royals putting the tying run on third base and the winning run on second with one out for Dane Iorg. A dramatic finish and a play at the plate ensued. The Royals went on to win Game 7 11-0 and complete the 3 games to 1 comeback. However it was Denkinger's dubious 'safe' call, and not Iorg's (or Jim Sundberg's for his difficult slide past catcher Darrell Porter for the winning run for that matter) heroics that were most remembered in years to come.

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 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 their first-ever trip to the World Series. 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.

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.

Despite the fact that ABC Sports (which in September 2006, became ESPN on ABC) and ESPN had been under the same corporate umbrella (i.e. the Walt Disney Company) since 1996, Michaels never served as a regular commentator for ESPN Major League Baseball. The only time that Al Michaels appeared in an ESPN booth of any kind was as a guest commentator on Wednesday Night Baseball in 2003 as part of ESPN's Living Legends Series.

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 (at approximately, 5:04 p.m. local time). McCarver fell into a stunned silence. After ABC restored the telecast with a backup generator (following a 15 minute delay, which featured a rerun of Roseanne), Michaels (reporting from ABC Sports' production truck) 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. Michaels relayed his reports to Ted Koppel, who was stationed at the ABC News bureau in Washington, D.C.

According to Tim McCarver when the earthquake hit, he, Michaels and Jim 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 each left with bruises the next day. Years later (on a 1999 SportsCenter retrospective about the 1989 World Series earthquake to be exact), Al Michaels would boldly admit his strong belief that had the earthquake lasted much longer than 15 seconds, he would have been killed. Michaels added that the only time that he really had been scared during the earthquake was when he moved in a position which he perceived to be backward. The three announcers were sitting on a ledge with their backs turned and no bracing behind them.

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 (along with Jim Lampley) 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. Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a potentially game-winning field goal, and thus, ensured the Giants victory.

The trio of Michaels, Dan Dierdorf (who joined MNF the year after Michaels' first), and Frank Gifford lasted until the 1997 season, when Gifford was replaced following disclosure of an extramarital affair.

Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason replaced Gifford in 1998, and Dierdorf was dropped after that season. Unexpectedly, comedian Dennis Miller joined the cast in 2000 along with Dan Fouts. In 2002, following Miller's departure, John Madden joined Michaels in a well-received pairing.

National Basketball Association

After disastrous ratings in the 2003 NBA Finals, ABC decided to completely revamp their lead NBA broadcast team. Brad Nessler was demoted to the second broadcast team, where he was joined by Sean Elliott and Dan Majerle. Al Michaels[7] was hired to replace Nessler as lead broadcaster of the NBA.

For the first several weeks of the 2003–2004 season, Michaels had no partner. However, Doc Rivers, a critically acclaimed analyst when he worked with Turner Sports, became available after a 1–19 start by his Orlando Magic. Rivers was hired weeks before ABC's Christmas Day season opener. He and Michaels worked that game together, one of only six they did together during the regular season (all other games Rivers worked were with Brad Nessler). During the playoffs, the team worked every single telecast, including the 2004 NBA Finals, which saw great improvement in television ratings.

During the 2004 NBA Playoffs, Doc Rivers was hired by the Boston Celtics. Though Rivers continued to work games with Al Michaels throughout the rest of the playoffs, ABC would have to find a new lead analyst for the 2004–2005 season.

Early in the 2004–2005 season, ABC found a new partner for Al Michaels. Memphis Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown, a broadcasting legend with CBS, TBS, and TNT, was forced into retirement due to health reasons and was soon after hired to replace Doc Rivers. Michaels and Brown began their partnership on Christmas Day 2004, working the highly anticipated Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant game. After that game, the two did not do a game together again until March 2005. Michaels became sporadic in NBA coverage[8], doing two games in early March, and then three more games in April. Brown worked every week of ABC's coverage, broadcasting some games with veteran broadcaster Mike Breen.

For the 2005–2006 season, Al Michaels and Hubie Brown were slated to remain as ABC's number one broadcast team. The duo worked that year's Christmas Day game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat and were expected to work the NBA Finals together as well. However, due to Michaels' impending departure to NBC, that plan did not come to fruition.

Replacing Michaels on The NBA on ABC was Mike Breen, who became the lead broadcaster for an over-the-air NBA package for the first time in his career. Breen worked 2006 NBA Finals with Hubie Brown, as well as all the main games ABC broadcast that year. This gave ABC its first consistent lead broadcaster since Brad Nessler, as Breen (unlike Michaels) did games every week.

Leaving ABC for NBC

In 2003, he was quoted as saying, "ABC Sports has been my professional home for the last 26 years, and I am delighted that will continue to be for several more. . ." after signing a long-term contract extension.[9]

In 2005, it was announced that Monday Night Football would be moving from ABC to ESPN beginning with the 2006 season, and partner John Madden announced he would be joining NBC Sports, which had acquired the rights to Sunday Night Football games. Despite speculation that Michaels might be joining NBC as well, Michaels stated that he would continue as the MNF play-by-play announcer, stating, "I feel like I'm a creature of Monday night. I'm home and I'm staying home." Plans were for Michaels to be teamed with Joe Theismann (who would be coming over from Sunday Night Football) on the Monday night telecasts.[10]

At the time, then-ABC Television President Alex Wallau said,

For 26 years Al has played a pivotal role here at ABC Sports, and for 17 of those years he's been the face and voice synonymous with television's most successful sports franchise, Monday Night Football... It's Al's outstanding play-by-play coverage, coupled with his breadth of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm, that keep MNF fans invigorated, excited and coming back for more

Also, then-ABC Sports President Howard Katz said,

Al Michaels has been invaluable to the Network and we are thrilled to have him remain in our family,[...] "Al is the consummate professional and makes everyone around him better

However, in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl XL, it was widely speculated that Michaels was attempting to get out of his contract with ESPN to join Madden at NBC. Michaels added fuel to the fire by refusing to state his future plans, and he couldn't "respond to rumors ... because that would become a distraction."[11] On February 8, 2006, ESPN announced that its Monday Night Football team would consist of Mike Tirico on play-by-play, with Theismann and Tony Kornheiser as analysts.[12] ESPN explicitly stated that Michaels would not return to either Monday Night Football broadcasts or ABC's NBA broadcasts (on which Michaels had been lead NBA play-by-play man).

NBC Sports

Traded to NBC for a former Walt Disney asset

On February 9, 2006, NBC confirmed that Michaels would be joining Madden at the network to broadcast football on Sunday nights, thus ending Michaels' 20 year run on Monday Night Football and almost 30 years of service with ABC.[13] In exchange for letting Michaels out of his contract with ABC and ESPN, NBC Universal sold ESPN cable rights to Friday coverage of the next four Ryder Cups, granted ESPN increased usage of Olympic highlights, and sold to parent company Disney the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a cartoon character developed by Walt Disney himself (which he lost in 1928) but previously owned by Universal Pictures (now NBC Universal). NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol explained:

We earn nothing from those rights; they've had no value in the United States.

Michaels had a bemused take on the "trade." After it was noted to Michaels that the Kansas City Chiefs gave the New York Jets a draft pick as compensation for releasing coach Herman Edwards from his contract, Michaels stated:

Oswald is definitely worth more than a fourth-round draft choice. I'm going to be a trivia answer someday.

However, in a recent article with the magazine Game Informer, Warren Spector, a designer on the game Epic Mickey, [slated for release on the Wii in 2010], stated that CEO Bob Iger wanted Oswald to be in the game so badly, he made this trade to get the rights of the character back.[14]

Michaels began his new NBC tenure on August 6, 2006, with the network's telecast of the preseason Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, while his regular-season debut came on September 7 of that year. On February 1, 2009, Michaels called Super Bowl XLIII, his first Super Bowl telecast for NBC and seventh overall as a play-by-play announcer. Michaels is the third man to ever do play-by-play for an NBC broadcast of a Super Bowl, following the footsteps of Curt Gowdy and Dick Enberg.

2010 Winter Olympics

In March 2009, it was announced that Michaels would be serving as the daytime host for NBC's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.[15] It was Michaels' first involvement in an Olympic telecast since he called ice hockey at the 1988 Calgary Games for ABC, as well as his first non-NFL event for NBC. NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol said that Michaels had previously expressed an interest in contributing to the network's Olympics coverage.[5] Michaels also co-hosted NBC's coverage of the Closing Ceremony with Bob Costas.

Awards and honors

Michaels has won numerous awards during his career, including the Emmy Award for Outstanding Sports Personality (Play-by-Play Host) five 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 Fame.


Michaels is the only sportscaster to be a play-by-play voice or host for the Olympics, plus the championships of the four major American pro sports, having called the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals, which he only hosted. He was on tap call Game 7 of the 1979 Final (as a special edition of Wide World of Sports), but the Montreal Canadiens won the series in five games. 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. Also, Marv Albert has called the Super Bowl (for Westwood One Radio), NBA Finals (for NBC) and Stanley Cup Finals (for the NHL Network syndicated television package). While Marv Albert also took part in NBC's World Series coverage, he only served in a hosting/interviewing capicity and not a play-by-play voice.

Michaels has also called boxing matches, including exciting matchup of "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas "The Hitman" Hearns for the undisputed middleweight championship of the world. In addition, Michaels has served as host for all three Triple Crown races and the Indianapolis 500. He also served as a fill-in commentator for ABC's Pro Bowlers Tour in the late 1970s when original commentator Chris Schenkel was on assignment.


Michaels is the eldest child of Jay and Lila Michaels. Michaels has a younger brother, David and a younger sister, Susan.[2]

Michaels currently resides in Los Angeles, California. Since August 27, 1966, Al Michaels has been married to Linda Anne Stamaton. Al and Linda have two children together, Steven and Jennifer. He is a Los Angeles Kings season ticket holder.[16]

Al's younger brother, David is a television producer. David Michaels has produced such programs as NBC's coverage of the Olympic Games, Triple Crown and Fox Sports Net's Beyond the Glory series.

In popular culture

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, understood the prankster's use of the term as an association of being a Howard Stern fan. Michaels is a Howard Stern fan, and has discussed that prank call as a guest on Stern's show.

Michaels had an acting role in a 1970 episode of Hawaii Five-O, and has appeared as himself in the films Jerry Maguire and BASEketball, as well as on several TV shows including Coach and Spin City. As previously mentioned, his call of the U.S. hockey team's victory in the 1980 Olympics can be heard in the 2004 film Miracle.

Brian d'Arcy James portrayed Michaels in the 2002 television movie Monday Night Mayhem. Michaels has also been lampooned on several occasions by noted impressionists, Frank Caliendo and Billy West.

While a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Michaels recited a couple of songs from rapper 50 Cent, who sat next to Michaels.

Michaels along with Harold Ramis, Ray Ramano and Kermit the Frog was briefly lampooned on the Family Guy episode "Mother Tucker".

Al Michaels was also the featured voice in Hardball 4, a popular computer baseball game for PC.

Notable broadcasts

Career timeline

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ "Al Michaels' bio at Sports Stars USA". Sports Stars USA. Retrieved 2007-01-12. 
  2. ^ a b Michael Hiestand (2006-08-18). "Michaels brothers: TV destiny". USA Today. 
  3. ^ a b Stewart, Larry (January 26, 2003). "He Keeps Living Dream Come True". The Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ "Michaels signs contract extension with ABC". ABC Sports online. May 13, 2003. Retrieved 2009-08-14. 
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ George Michael may be the only American who wasn't thrilled by the Miracle on Ice. As a sportscaster at WABC-AM in New York and the radio play-by-play man for the NHL Islanders in the late '70s, Michael expected to get the job of announcing the 1980 Olympic hockey tournament on ABC-TV. Instead the assignment went to Al Michaels, whose call of the U.S. upset of the Soviet Union at Lake Placid--"Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"--became an instant classic. History will judge ABC's decision kindly, but Michael was crushed. After all, it could have been him. "When they beat the Russians, I was about as depressed as you could get," Michael says. "I thought, Man, the golden opportunity of your career just vanished before your eyes." Instead, Michael's lost chance became his big break. After the Olympic snub he moved to D.C., where his Sports Final became a local hit, and the Sports Machine was soon born. --B.S.
  7. ^ Sports Media Watch presents the ten worst personnel moves of the 2000s. #10: Al Michaels as lead NBA play-by-play voice (2004-05, ABC)
  8. ^ Is Buck the new Michaels?
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Michaels, Theismann, Kolber, Tafoya to crew MNF". 2005-07-26. 
  11. ^ Bob Raissman (2006-01-31). "Michaels won't give play-by-play of plans". New York Daily News. 
  12. ^ "ESPN names new MNF team; Breen to call NBA games". 2006-02-10. 
  13. ^ "NBC acquires Michaels for cartoon bunny, golf". The Associated Press. 2006-02-13. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Eye On Sports Media: Al Michaels to Host Winter Olympics for NBC Sports
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i Al Michaels - ABC Sports Journalist - Nationwide Speakers Bureau

External links


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address