Do you believe in good reads? Yes!
I’ve cuddled up the last couple of nights with You Can’t Make This Up (William Morrow), Al Michaels’ biography, co-written with L. Jon Wertheim.
Well, it isn’t really a biography as much as a through career retrospective by the broadcasting icon, the eyes and ears of generations of sports fans. Michaels provides behind-the-scenes glimpses of the historic events he has covered, and reveals that in many instances he not only called developments but influenced them.
In a few days, Michaels will be calling his ninth Super Bowl. In honor of that, here are nine things I did not know about him until this read:
1. He and brother David had 50-yard line seats for the first Super Bowl before it was the Super Bowl, Kansas City v Green Bay, AFL-NFL Championship, January 1967, Memorial Coliseum.
2. While serving as play-by-play man for the Pacific Coast League’s Hawaiian Islanders, he guest-starred in an episode of Hawaii 5-0.
3. Michaels called the last of tens of thousands of pitches delivered by Pirates relief icon Elroy Face, who was 42 when he wound up his 22-year career with a stint with the ’70 Islanders.
4. Upon taking the job of the Reds’ play-by-play guy, he was introduced to Cincinnati with an appearance on a CBS morning talk show hosted by Nick Clooney, father of George; yeah, that George Clooney.
5. Michaels called Roberto Clemente’s last play, a “hellacious one-hop laser” in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 1972 NLCS which pinch-runner George Foster beat to third base, before scoring on Bob Moose’s wild pitch to give the Reds a comeback 4-3 win and the NL pennant.
6. Michaels agrees with me that Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS between the Red Sox and the Angels was “the most dramatic baseball game I have ever witnessed.”
7. Michaels was a neighbor and frequent tennis foe of both Al Cowlings and OJ Simpson — whom he visited a few times in jail.
8. Michaels once threatened to walk out on Howard Cosell from ABC’s baseball booth — because of Cosell’s drinking.
9. Since a kid, Michaels’ favorite sport has been hockey; he is a longtime Kings season-ticket holder.