Great Sports Calls, chosen by Posnanski
October 15, 2010 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Greatest calls in sports is a selection of 32 great calls in broadcast sports, chosen by Joe Posnanski, obviously US-centric but featuring some good choices. Want some elation this Friday?

Some nice discussion at Baseball Think Factory.

Does it have to be a great moment, or could a routine moment be elevated to the list by a great call? I would be interested if anyone has examples of this; I had a hard time coming up with examples.
posted by LobsterMitten (47 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I was in my parents' car, coming home from my grandparent's in the valley, on the 405 through Sepulveda Pass, listening to Koufax's perfect game against the Cubs. What I remember is Vin Scully mentioning the time and date, and then, when it was over, not saying anything, just letting his mic pick up the noise of the crowd for MINUTES.

Still gives me chills to think about it.
posted by Danf at 11:02 AM on October 15, 2010

Something I did not know: the reason we have a recording of "the Giants win the pennant" is a coincidence - a Giants fan named Lawrence Goldberg was traveling and had asked his mother to record the game on reel-to-reel tape so he could listen to it later. That's the only recording of the famous radio call.

"The Shot Heard Round the World: A Call is Born and Saved by a Mom", by Richard Sandomir, Oct 1 2001 NYT
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:08 AM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Man, those hockey ones stink. No Foster Hewitt? Pigdog Americans.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:13 AM on October 15, 2010

My goodness, a lot of those were certainly exciting.

Thanks for posting this, a little extra oomph to soldier on through the rest of the afternoon...
posted by marxchivist at 11:13 AM on October 15, 2010

Alvy if you can find video online of ones you think should be on there, I would love to watch 'em.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:15 AM on October 15, 2010

I am currently reading Posnanski's book The Machine about the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. It's fabulous. He also wrote great stories on Stan Musial and Jim Thome in recent issues of Sports Illustrated. He's a damn fine sportswriter.
posted by zzazazz at 11:17 AM on October 15, 2010

I don't think I've ever been as excited about something as Howard Cosell was excited about Foreman knocking down Frazier. Also, because I'll probably never have a better reason to link to it, here's I-Roy's classic "Don't Get Weary, Joe Frazier." Doubtlessly the best DJ track inspired by one of the 32 best sports calls.
posted by .kobayashi. at 11:20 AM on October 15, 2010

I love Joe Posnanski, but this seems like a weirdly personal list to post on SI rather than his (great) personal blog. As someone else said in the BTF discussion, Scully's call on the TV broadcast wasn't even the best call of the Buckner grounder. Bob Murphy's radio call is much better in every way, from his more detailed description to the way the cadence of his voice, and his excitement, match the play on the field as it progresses from routine to historic.
posted by RogerB at 11:20 AM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to listgripe.

Probably the CanCon #1 would be this one. The entire clip is worth a watch, though.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:22 AM on October 15, 2010

That was absolutely amazing. I am always amazed at the power of sports over me I guess, even from games that I don't particularly care about otherwise. Like the "Look at Mills" call just sent shivers down my spine.
posted by Carillon at 11:28 AM on October 15, 2010

Maybe because I rooted for Afleet Alex during the 2005 Triple Crown, but I still like hearing Dave Rodman's call of the 2005 Preakness. What an amazing race.

"Afleet much the best is he?...Afleet Alex...AWESOME"

posted by wabashbdw at 11:43 AM on October 15, 2010

Joe Starkey, The Play. Still rocks me.
posted by cccorlew at 11:51 AM on October 15, 2010

My favorite call is still DENNIS BERGKAMP!!!!.
posted by dfan at 12:01 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

GREAT GREAT GREAT link, thanks for posting!!!
posted by vito90 at 12:13 PM on October 15, 2010

This here is one of my picks for the greatest "calls" ever. Simply amazing, and completely real...
posted by hincandenza at 12:25 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

I was living in Nashville at the time of the Music City Miracle with a girlfriend who just absolutely hated sports of all kinds. We were invited to a game day cookout and watch party leading up to which she just complained unmercifully. "I just don't understand how you guys can just waste your time watching games and drinking beer like that."

We went to the party anyway and at first she just grumped around. But it really was a good game, lots of drama, lots of back and forth. After a while she started asking some questions. The game got better, she started seeing strategies working, how plays unfolded. By the end it looked like it was over. People started packing up to go home dejected. She was actually enjoying herself none the less. Then the miracle happened. No body said a word for at least a minute. We were just dumbfounded. Then she pipes up with, "well, I'm a jerk for ever doubting you guys, that was awesome!" She then invited everyone over to our place for the Superbowl party she would be hosting.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:30 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Metafilter: obviously US-centric but featuring some good choices.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:46 PM on October 15, 2010

Release the Kraken!
posted by stargell at 12:47 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

"Tie Domi was your classic goon of the day, on the smallish side but a hell of a fighter. Fans both loved and hated him. He was once voted the league’s most popular player. Another time he scaled the glass to fight a fan. It was a give-and-take relationship."
posted by dobie at 12:56 PM on October 15, 2010

Does it have to be a great moment, or could a routine moment be elevated to the list by a great call? I would be interested if anyone has examples of this; I had a hard time coming up with examples.

How about this call of Zenyatta's 14th consecutive win last year? Already an historic racehorse, mentioned here a couple times this summer, but the announcing really made this race thrilling from wire to wire.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 1:09 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

“Little roller up along first… behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!”

Gets me every time. Thanks for the post! But I wish Posnanski had 1) cut to the chase in the clips rather than saying the magic moment is seven minutes in, and 2) provided a little basic information (like what year it was).
posted by languagehat at 1:15 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

HOLY MACKINAW!!!! No Joe Bowen (the voice of the Maple Leafs)??

Several times I've almost crashed the car listening to his calls on the radio because he gets me so worked up. Here's a small sample.


His call of the Felix Potvin vs. Ron Hextall goalie fight in Philly is a classic. (Have to scroll down for the link, but it's worth it)

"Down goes Brown! Down goes Brown!": Sylvain Lefebvre takes down Rob Brown.
This arguably inspired a bit on the Cleveland Show.

Unfortunately I can't find a link for one of my favourite moments, when Bowen choked back tears as he screamed about the Leafts winning Game 6 vs. the Senators in the 2002 playoffs: "Bless you boys, what a game! UNBELIEVABLE! In our very small way of being a part of this team, I don't think I have ever been as proud in my entire life."
posted by Kabanos at 1:26 PM on October 15, 2010

My personal favourite sports call occurred during a routine Blue Jays/Yankees game I was listening to on the radio in the car with my dad when I was a kid. The Blue Jays were up to bat and the announcer said "[insert name of Yankees pitcher here] winds up, here's the pitch..." and then broke down and laughed for a good ten or fifteen seconds. Turned out he'd somehow thrown a pitch so wild it ended up in one of the dugouts.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:31 PM on October 15, 2010

Shit! Did you see that?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:33 PM on October 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

No rugby mentioned so far. This is one of my favourites:

"Kirkpatrick to Williams. This is great stuff. Phil Bennett covering, chased by Alistair Scowan. Brilliant! Oh, that's brilliant! John Williams, Brian Williams, Pullin, John Dawes. Great dummy! David, Tom David, the half-way line. Brilliant by Quinnell. This is Gareth Edwards. A dramatic surge. WHAT A SCORE!"
posted by afx237vi at 2:05 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

My favorite call. Not real, but still.
posted by Ickster at 2:15 PM on October 15, 2010

"The kick is up! It's looking good! The ball is turning into a fat bald guy! And it's no good! And you know what we say every time something strange happens! It's good that Bart did that! It's very good!"
posted by Skot at 2:25 PM on October 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I remember watching the Music City Miracle live, and my jaw was on the floor.

Growing up in Bills country, I withstood 4 Superbowl losses, but that game was the last straw.
posted by yeti at 3:06 PM on October 15, 2010

Dave Niehaus in a spring training, split squad Mariner game, on the radio, sometime in the early eighties - "That double play went 5-4-3 if you're scoring at home, although I don't know why you would be."
posted by vito90 at 3:19 PM on October 15, 2010 [3 favorites]

lobstermitten, you are a baseball person in addition to a philosophy person? lets be friends!
posted by Kwine at 3:20 PM on October 15, 2010

Aren't we friends already?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:29 PM on October 15, 2010

Here's my favorite Gus Johnson call. 1996 NCAA Tournament, 1st round, UCLA vs Princeton.
posted by aloysius on the mixing boards at 4:08 PM on October 15, 2010

well, yeah. you know, better friends!
posted by Kwine at 8:51 PM on October 15, 2010

Thanks RogerB! I can listen to Vin Scully's call on Mookie's dribbler all night, but there is a distinct lack of Bob Murphy in that list.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 10:18 PM on October 15, 2010

I'm glad there's a lot of Jack Buck in that list. He was my announcer growing up in the St. Louis area, and his "Go Crazy, Folks!" is permanently etched in my brain.
posted by gc at 10:46 PM on October 15, 2010

One of my favorite calls was listening to a Diamondbacks game, playing at Cleveland (friggin' interleague crap...) Jeff Munn is calling the game on the D'Backs network. Miguel Batista is pitching for Arizona, and Ellis Burks is batting for the Indians. Burks got a good swing on one, and Munn calls out, "That ball is obliterated!" With the crowd noise and his apocalyptic tone when he called it, it was entertaining as all hell.
posted by azpenguin at 12:30 AM on October 16, 2010

I enjoyed this a lot; but I feel like it might have been better to limit it to purely US calls though. I can't see how any one writer can have the sports knowledge to really feel what the most important, greatest calls are from the entire world of sports. We see this in the one English call he includes - he's right that it's the most iconic call in English sporting history, but he has to be told this - he doesn't know. Just like I can read the calls that he has included, and appreciate them, but I lack the context to really really understand why they are important.

If I can suggest a cricket one: Australia v New Zealand, 1981: "well it looks to me as if he's going to bowl an underarm delivery...Rod Marsh is saying 'no mate'..he's going to bowl it along the be sure it can not be hit for six....and this is possibly a little bit disappointing" [Context: New Zealand needed six runs off the last ball to tie the match - that is, hit the ball into the crowd on the full. By bowling the ball underarm along the ground, the Australians made sure this was impossible. It wasn't specifically against the rules, but only because it was completely unimaginable]. Start here at about 4.58, go back to 4.30 or so for the buildup, or watch the whole 8 minutes if you really care....
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:27 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

OK, I'm being just as Aussie-centric as that list is US-centric, but how can you have a list of great sports calls with no appearances from Bruce McAvaney or Greg Miles? Shameful!

To redress the balance: here's Bruce calling Gary Moorcroft's 2001 AFL mark of the year ("that will go around the world on CNN", he said - and it did); and here's Greg Miles' call of the 2005 Melbourne Cup - the race where "a champion becomes a legend".

(Not all of our sports callers are quite so good, though.)
posted by The Shiny Thing at 4:02 AM on October 16, 2010

Came here to post Cliff Morgan, Bjørge Lillelien and Jack van Gelder (HQ).

But they all pale in comparison to the measured and simple poetry of Brian Johnston
posted by fullerine at 6:38 AM on October 16, 2010

I don't understand those who are complaining about the US-centric-ness of the list. #1 is an Olympic game -- the very definition of international. #3 is a boxing match fought in Kingston, Jamaica. #7 is Maradona at the World Cup. Americans were not involved. For #8, the 2005 Masters at Augusta, the nationalities of the top-Ten finishers included 3 Americans, but also 2 South Africans, 2 Australians, and 1 from England, Canada and Fiji.

I could go down the list; I could call upon Canadians here to offer objections to any offered characterizations the NBA, MLB, and NFL as US enterprises. But that's already 4 of the top 10 as international in scope, including 2 of the top 3. And if you begrudge Russ Hodges at #2 for being American, well then you don't just dislike baseball. You dislike sports.
posted by .kobayashi. at 6:58 AM on October 16, 2010

Aaargh, I meant the NHL -- National Hockey League -- not the NFL.
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:46 AM on October 16, 2010

.kobayashi. can you cite who is actually complaining about the list being US-centric? A few of us commented on it, and a few suggested examples from other leagues. But to say that the list isn't US-centric is kinda silly.

Of your examples: #1 involves the US; #3 involves two Americans, #7 no Americans; #8 is an American golfer. The other two Olympic calls involve American athletes.

Obviously Canadian teams play in some of the leagues mentioned, but I didn't see any Canadian teams in these calls, though it wasn't always clear from the summaries, so there may have been some [one of the NHL examples mentioned Vancouver, though it was between US teams].

I'm willing to be corrected, but from what I see there is one game involving England and West Germany, one game involving England and Argentina, and 30 games involving US teams or individuals. A few of which involve teams or athletes from other countries. The three Olympic examples are included because of the US element (Mills's comeback, the hockey upset, Phelps' 8).

As I said above, this is surely understandable, and not a bad thing. No-one could know enough about sport to compile a genuinely representative international list. How many of these football examples do you know? "there are some people on the pitch..."; "Maggie Thatcher, are you listening?"; "Can Manchester United score? They always score"; "the Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club"; "and the referee has gone across now with his hand in his pocket, he's been told about it! He's off, it's red, it's Zidane! Zidane's career ends in disgrace!!!"....but if I was compiling this list, I'd have a bunch of them on there.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:09 AM on October 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Infinite Jest: That's one way to read #s 1, 3, 4, 8. It's also a way that ignores the international context.

Moreover, I may well be reading this thread in concurrence with the most recent instantiation of the "Metafilter is not equivalent to the USA" MeTa yammering.

However, if you didn't see any Canadian teams in the leagues mentioned, you must have overlooked Joe Carter's home run, hit at the Sky Dome to win the World Series for Toronto in 1993. Also, in Domi vs. Samuelsson, Domi (a Canadian-born player on a Canadian hockey team) knocked out a Swedish player (who does, I concede, play for the New York Rangers).

This list is full of international games, with players from many different countries. Nevertheless, you're free to interpret as you like, I suppose.
posted by .kobayashi. at 11:44 AM on October 16, 2010

.kobayashi., I mentioned in the original post that the list is US-centric, because even though it does have international games it is heavy on the US things. Which is fair enough, it's a list written by a US sportswriter for a US audience, and emphasizes great calls/moments that his audience has some connection to (with a smattering of unfamiliar ones). It's not a criticism, just noting the perspective it comes from. You'd get a different list of greatest calls if you asked someone from Singapore to make the list, I'm guessing.

I partly mentioned it because I was hoping to see ones from other places -- what is the equivalent of "the Giants win the pennant" for other countries? I don't know and am interested to find out. I'm loving the links posted above.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:59 AM on October 16, 2010

.kobayashi. thanks for your response in the other thread. Well said sir.

On this one: I didn't realise Domi was Canadian (as languagehat said upthread, the original post lacks a bit of context). We'll perhaps have to agree to disagree, but that's OK.

LobsterMitten: I tried to find some classic New Zealand ones but I'm actually having a lot of trouble: Kiwi wins the 1983 Melbourne Cup (the most iconic commentary, described here, doesn't seem to be online); Jonah Lomu scores four tries against England in the 1995 world cup semi-final ("Lomu! Oooh! Aaah!" rightly described as 'orgasmic' in the Youtube comments; "The America's now New Zealand's Cup!" isn't online; I posted the underarm incident upthread; New Zealand v Bahrain final 3 minutes (NZ qualify for the (soccer) World Cup for the first time in 28 years).

It's interesting how hard a time I had: probably a reflection that a small country doesn't have many good commentators...

My personal favourite: Manchester United win the (soccer) European Champions League 2-1, scoring both goals in injury time. The commentary (by an arch United fan) veers from iconic ("Can Manchester United score? They *always* score") to nonsensical (the other commentator apparently forgets Peter Schmeical's name and refers to him as 'the big goalie') to the cruel ("Lothar Mattais - what must he be thinking? Well, with all due respect - who cares?") (starts about 1.38, or 1.00 if you want more buildup).
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:52 PM on October 17, 2010

"And that's gone straight into the confectionary stall and out again."
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 6:44 AM on October 18, 2010

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