Any sport can have its defining moments, be it a buzzer-beating shot or a record-breaking win. While some moments are more awe-inspiring than others, many of the most popular are defined by the sports commentators that bring them to life. The McGill Tribune highlights its favourite sports commentator moments to celebrate the memorable dialogues of the the wordsmiths of the sporting world.
“Touch em all Joe” – Tom Cheek
Blue Jays radio announcer Tom Cheek delivered one of the most iconic calls in sports history during Joe Carter’s famous belt to left field that won Toronto the 1993 World Series. Leading up to the moment, the defending champion Blue Jays were down by a single run heading into the ninth inning after the Philadelphia Phillies had taken a 6-5 lead late in the game. Phillies reliever Mitch Williams was called in to secure the win and send the Fall Classic to Game 7. After two batters reached base safely, All-Star outfielder Joe Carter arrived at the plate as the winning run. Carter, who had recorded the final out of the 1992 World Series the year prior, took a 2-2 pitch to deep left field and ended the World Series with a walk-off home run for only the second time in Major League Baseball history. As Carter rounded the bases, Tom Cheek delivered a line that will forever be etched in Canadian sports and baseball history: “Touch ‘em all Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”
“We will see you… tomorrow night!” – Joe Buck
Joe Buck famously delivered this line after the St. Louis Cardinals escaped elimination in the 2011 World Series by winning Game 6, one of the greatest games in Fall Classic history, on a walk-off home run by third baseman David Freese. The line was a perfect homage to his late father, who also commentated and used it 20 years earlier during the 1991 World Series. The Cardinals trailed the World Series three games to two at home, and were down to their last strike before David Freese tied the ball game in the bottom of the ninth inning. As the game continued into extra innings, Freese led off in the bottom of the 11th. The Cardinals’ third baseman took a 3-2 pitch to dead center field, homering to end the ball game and having Buck proclaim, “We will see you.. tomorrow night!”
The Cardinals would defeat the Texas Rangers in Game 7 the following day to win the 2011 World Series.
“The Canadiens win the Stanley Cup!” – Bob Cole
On June 9, 1993, the Canadiens beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 in the last game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Even 29 years later, the call from Bob Cole at the end of this game will forever live in the memories of Montreal Canadiens fans: “And now, a 24th Stanley Cup banner will hang from the rafters of the famous Forum in Montreal! The Canadiens win the Stanley Cup!”
The Canadiens have not won a Cup since 1993, but fans still hold out hope. One can only imagine what the call would be when they win their elusive 25th championship.
“Down goes Frazier!”- Howard Cosell
This call by Howard Cosell is nearly as iconic as the event where it occurred: “The Sunshine Showdown” in Kingston, Jamaica. The 1973 face off saw then-undefeated boxing legends George Foreman and Joe Frazier go head to head in one of the most anticipated fights in boxing history.
The fight lasted only two rounds, with Foreman coming out confidently in the opening moments of the fight. Less than two minutes in, he knocked Frazier down with a right uppercut, and did so six more times in the next round. Foreman ended the fight with an overhand right followed by a powerful right hook. Sport commentating legend Howard Cosell was so shocked by the show of dominance that he exclaimed, “Down goes Frazier!” three times in a row.
Foreman defended his title two more times, eventually losing to Muhammed Ali at the famed “Rumble in the Jungle.”
“Do you believe in miracles?” – Al Michaels
In perhaps the most famous Olympic hockey game, the “Miracle on Ice” saw a team of mostly amateur U.S. players face off against the heavily favoured Soviet team composed of professionals. The teams met in the first medal round, and at the end of the first period, the score was tied at 2-2. The Soviets went up in the second period 3-2, but blew their lead in the final period when the U.S. scored two goals. The gravity of the win struck Al Michaels in the final seconds of the game. His voice grew more excited, and with three seconds to go, Michaels shouted, “Do you believe in miracles?”
“Bang! Bang!” – Mike Breen
NBA superstar Stephen Curry has hit some of the most improbable clutch shots of the last decade, and his game winner against the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime on May 30, 2016 takes the crown.
The Warriors came into the game with a 52-5 win-loss ratio, and would eventually set the record for the most regular season wins at 73-9. Curry scored an astounding 46 points, 31 of which came after halftime. He also set the record for most three pointers in a game, the last of which was one of the most audacious 35-foot shots with two seconds remaining on the clock. Commentator Mike Breen could not believe his eyes, gasping before shouting, “Bang! Bang! Oh, what a shot from Curry!”
After the game, Breen commented further on the shot.
“The team took your breath away some nights. And to cap it off with that shot, I just kind of lost it.”
This shot will go down as one of the most emblematic game winners for one of the greatest basketball teams of all time.
“Look at Mills! Look at Mills!” – Dick Bank
Two years after almost taking his life, Billy Mills, an Oglala Lakota U.S. Olympic runner, won the gold medal for the 10-kilometre race in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The victory was one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history as Mills, unknown in the running world at the time, outsprinted Australian Ron Clarke, the then world record holder. The historic race was even more memorable because of Dick Bank’s announcing.
When Bank, who was working as a spotter with NBC’s Bud Palmer, saw Mills coming towards the finish and, started cheering enthusiastically when Palmer did not mention Mills’ name:
“Look at Mills! Look at Mills!”
A few days after the race, NBC fired Bank for shouting over Palmer as Mills sprinted the final 80 yards of the race. Mills remains the only American to win Olympic gold for the 10,000-metre run.