In honor of Sam Rosen's birthday: My top ten greatest sports calls of all time
Today, I take inspiration from the great Sam Rosen's 74th birthday, even though I'm a day late. As I scrolled through compilations of Rosen's greatest calls throughout his career -- a career that spans over 40 years -- I wondered to myself, "what are some of my other favorite sports calls?" and quite a few came to mind, so I decided to put my thoughts to paper.
This is my personal list, and I will be ranking these calls based on a mixture of historical significance, passion, memorability, and maybe a little bit of bias on my part (see the #1 and #5 spots)
Disclaimer: I'm not a huge college sports fan and I'm also not a soccer fan, and well, this is my list after all, so unfortunately, calls such as Kemba Walker's step back at MSG, Auburn's 109-yard field goal return at the Iron Bowl, and other's wont be included on this list.
Joe Buck will also not be featured on this list because he is a robot, incapable of human emotion. Sorry, Joe.
10. Marshawn Lynch's Beast Quake run
During the 2010 NFC Wildcard game which pitted the Seattle Seahawks against the defending Super Bowl Champions, New Orleans Saints, Seattle's Marshawn Lynch blasted through his own 33 yard line while the Seahawks held onto a narrow four point lead late in the fourth quarter. Just as it seemed like New Orleans' cornerback, Tracy Porter, had Lynch dead to rights, the running back, commonly referred to as Beast Mode, put Porter down with one of the meanest stiff-arms you'll ever see.
The No Fun League strikes again and won't let us play the video here, so if you'd like to see the clip, click on the link below.
9. "Block by James!" Mike Breen
Most commonly known as the "bang!" guy, Mike Breen has the privilege of being able to call the NBA Finals every year. He was also fortunate enough to be able to call one of the greatest NBA Finals series' of all time: the Cleveland Cavaliers historic comeback against the powerhouse Golden State Warriors in 2016. Cleveland won it's first title in franchise history behind the heroics of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, after overcoming a 3 games to 1 series deficit. In Game 7, we saw both the Irving three-point shot that pretty much iced the series, and the LeBron James block. Two plays that were equally as important, and two plays that will live on in basketball lore, but ultimately, I have to go with LeBron's block.
8. "Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!" Al Michaels
I mean, just go watch Miracle please, so I can keep this short. Not only is it one of the greatest sports movies of all time, but it's the story of one of the most iconic American sports moments of all time. During the 1980 Winter Olympics, the Soviet Union was the envy of the international hockey world. For years, no one, not the USA, not even Canada could manage to put the Soviet Union men's ice hockey team away. In one of the great underdog stories ever, team USA defeated the Soviets in front of their home crowd in Lake Placid, New York. Play-by-play announcer, Al Michaels, helped solidify the moment in history with the most appropriate call for the situation.
7. "It's a Minneapolis Miracle!" Paul Allen and Pete Bercich
During a 2017 NFC Divisional playoff game, the Minnesota Vikings lined up on their own 39-yard line, down by one point with 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The New Orleans Saints appeared to have had the very close game put away, barring a miracle in Minneapolis (foreshadowing)
Vikings quarterback, Case Keenum, threw a 27-yard pass to wide receiver, Stefon Diggs, who subsequently (and seemingly accidentally) hurdled over a missed tackle from Saints safety, Marcus Williams, running the ball into the end zone and sending the Minnesota Vikings into the next round of the playoffs. Vikings radio announcers, Paul Allen and Pete Bercich, were beside themselves after what they had just witnessed, appropriately dubbing the historic play as the Minneapolis Miracle.
(No Fun League again)
6. "The Giants win the pennant!" Russ Hodges
This 1951 call from play-by-play announcer Russ Hodges has been commonly referred to as the greatest sports call of all time. During a 1951 game between the (then) New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers, Giants outfielder/infielder Bobby Thomson smacked a homerun over the left field wall of the Polo Grounds in New York City off of Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca to win the 1951 National League pennant. The call has been labeled as the Shot Heard 'Round the World, and no, not the one from Concord, Massachusetts during the spring of 1775, that one was cool too.
5. "Behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!" Vin Scully
I would apologize to Boston fans for this one, but the Red Sox have more than made up for Bill Buckner's famous error in the 1986 World Series. There are quite a few misconceptions when it comes to this play, which makes it sound way worse for Buckner than it actually was, so I'm here to clear up any urban legends you may have heard surrounding this moment in time.
Firstly, Bill Buckner wasn't alone in helping the Red Sox lose Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The Mets tied the game in the late innings off of a wild pitch by Boston's Bob Stanley.
Secondly, while the Mets were down 3 games to 2 heading into the game, this play was not as "do or die" for New York as a lot of people think. During the time of the Buckner error, the game was tied in extra innings with less than two outs and New York's Ray Knight on second base, so even if Bucker fielded the ball cleanly and got Mookie Wilson out, who's to say the Mets wouldn't have walked it off during the next at bat? A lot of people are under the false assumption that had Buckner got Wilson out, the Red Sox would have won the game and the series.
Thirdly, if you watch the replay, it is widely agreed upon that had the Red Sox right fielder been backing Buckner up during the play as he should have been, he would've been able to easily throw Knight out at home.
This play is considered one of the most recognizable moments in baseball history, as the Curse of the Bambino seemed to be rearing it's ugly head, and the Miracle Mets were able to do it again... Who better to make the call than the legendary Vin Scully? Anyway, sorry for the rant. Here's the clip.
4. "Down goes Frazier!" Howard Cosell
One of the most iconic moments in combat sports history, and one of the biggest upsets in sports history, also happens to be one of the most recognizable calls of all time. We have a triple threat here, folks.
Leading up to a highly anticipated 1973 fight between Smokin' Joe Frazier and George Foreman, Frazier was the defending World Heavyweight Champion, had a record of 29-0 and was heavily favored over Foreman. The fight that was supposed to be the fight of the decade only lasted two rounds. Early in the second round, Foreman landed a solid right uppercut on Fraizer, knocking him to the ground, this is the moment that we get the iconic "down goes Frazier!" call.
At 1:35 of the second round, referee Arthur Mercante Sr. stopped the fight, resulting in a TKO victory for Foreman, crowning him as the newest -- and third youngest all time -- Heavyweight Champion of the World.
3. "Game! Series! Toronto has won!" Marv Albert
This is the most recent call on this list. During Game 7 of the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference Final, it appeared as if the game between the Toronto Raptors and visiting Philadelphia 76ers was going into overtime, as they were tied 90-90 with 4.2 seconds left in regulation. Raptors' Marc Gasol inbounded the ball to superstar Kawhi Leonard. Defended by both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid of the 76ers, Leonard was able to dribble his way into the corner and get a shot off as the buzzer sounded. A sold out Scotiabank Arena watched with bated breath as the ball slowly bounced and rolled around on the rim.
What happened next was cemented in basketball history forever. The reaction of the always-seemingly emotionless Kawhi Leonard and his teammates, the crowd going crazy, and Joel Embiid's look of shock and disbelief after an unbelievable loss was something you only see in movies. This is what Game 7's are all about.
2. "Touch 'em All Kirby Puckett!" John Gordon
Perhaps my favorite baseball call of all time, and obviously my second favorite sports call ever. Everything about this call send chills down my spine each time. Game 6 of the 1991 World Series saw the Atlanta Braves in Minnesota as they faced off against the Twins during a series in which Minnesota would go on to win it all in Game 7.
Twins' outfielder, Kirby Puckett, lead off in the bottom of the 10th inning against Atlanta's Charlie Liebrandt. On a 2-1 pitch, Puckett deposited the ball over the left-center field wall, sending the crowd into an absolute frenzy. John Gordon wasn't immune to the excitement, as he himself went crazy in the booth, screaming repeatedly, "touch 'em all Kirby Puckett! Touch 'em all Kirby Puckett!"
"Bartolo has done it!" Gary Cohen
"Chicago with the lead!" Bob Costas
"Touch 'em all Joe! You'll never hit a bigger homerun in your life!" Tom Cheek
1. "The waiting is over! the New York Rangers are the Stanley Cup Champions! And this one will last a lifetime!" Sam Rosen
For those of you who know me, and for those of you who maybe don't know me but have read my other articles, I eat, sleep, and breathe the New York Rangers. When they lose, I'm in a bad mood, and when they win I'm on top of the world. So it's no wonder that the greatest moment in New York Rangers history is at the top of my list. I could've used any call, from Howie Rose's famous "Matteau!" call, to "save by Richter!" after Mike Richter's save on Pavel Bure's penalty shot, to Doc Emrick's call after the Rangers won the 2014 Eastern Conference Championship. But I chose this one.
Sam Rosen grew up a diehard New York Rangers fan. His dream came true in 1984 when he scored a gig as the Rangers play-by-play announcer. Rosen is still the voice of the Rangers almost 40 years later, and was the voice of the Blueshirts for much of their 54-year Stanley Cup drought.
Rosen had the absolute best seat in the house when his second dream came true on June 14th, 1994 when the Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7, winning the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940 and effectively ending the half-century curse that the Rangers suffered.
The passion in his voice as he watched Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter and other Rangers' legends jump for joy is unrivaled in my opinion. The man who grew up watching the Rangers got to call the single greatest moment in franchise history. Does it get any better than that? The whole entire call is chilling. As the puck is cleared down ice with 7 seconds to go, before the game is even over, you can hear the raw passion and pure excitement in Rosen's voice.
Thank you for reading my list and coming down memory lane with me. Be sure to leave a comment below and let me know some of your favorite sports calls!