100 Sports Pros Talk About the Best Sporting
Events They Ever Witnessed Firsthand
by Eric Mirlis
What are the top sports moments you have seen in person?
That question was posed to some of the biggest names in sports broadcasting and
journalism, and the results are all in the book, "Being There". 100 people, from Marv
Albert to Pat Summerall, from Keith Jackson to Keith Olbermann, named the Top 5
moments they have had the chance to see live.
Now, you have the chance to compare your moments to theirs. Were you in Madison
Square Garden the night the New York Rangers won their first Stanley Cup in 54 years?
Or at Camden Yards when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played
record? These are two of the hundreds of events discussed in "Being There", and the
personal stories told by the subjects in the book put you there if you weren't. But if you
were, how does your story compare to these?
Here is just a sample of the stories told in "Being There":
The night he received the George Halas Award for Courage and the New York Football
Writers Dinner at the Americana Hotel, Gale Sayers gave the speech was re-created in
the movie Brian’s Song. There was an added impact for me that night, because I went
to college at Wake Forest with Brian Piccolo…Afterwards, I went to tell Sayers that I went
to college with Brian, and Vince Lombardi was in front of me. Lombardi said, “Gale, you
are a great American,” then choked up and started to cry. I couldn’t say anything after
that and just turned and walked away.
--Ernie Accorsi on Gale Sayers’ speech about Brian Piccolo
NBC was broadcasting the NBA at the time, and during the game, the O.J. Simpson
White Ford Bronco chase was going on. On our TV monitor, NBC put up a split screen
of the game and the O.J. chase; then, at some point, it just became O.J. I found it to be
too distracting while broadcasting the game, so I asked our statistician to shut the
monitor off. When he went to turn the TV off, all the fans sitting around the booth
objected and asked if I would leave it on.
--Mike Breen on Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals
After [Emmitt Smith] broke the record, there were so many people around him to
celebrate that it seemed as though it would be impossible to get near him, and I knew
he wanted to see his wife, Pat, and share the moment with his family. But all of a
sudden, the mass of people standing between the two of us separated, and we had a
direct line of sight to each other. That is when he came over and we embraced. This
was a very special moment for me, on a historic day in NFL history.
--Daryl Johnston on the day Emmitt Smith broke the NFL rushing record
This was a home run that couldn’t possibly have been hit. Dennis Eckersley was the
most untouchable relief pitcher alive. Kirk Gibson could barely walk. And then there was
that baseball, heading toward history, and everything about that World Series was about
to change. Lives were changed by that swing of the bat, that baseball: that Oakland
team’s place in history. Gibson’s place. Eckersley’s place. Tommy Lasorda’s place.
Even Orel Hershiser’s place.
--Jayson Stark on Kirk Gibson’s home run in the 1988 World Series
The pinpoint passing of the Colts’ Johnny Unitas stamped him as an all-time great, but
there were also lineups of the game’s elite – legendary Colts like Ameche, Myhra,
Donovan, Berry, Moore, Mutscheller, and Marchetti, just to name a few. The Giants had
Conerly, Gifford, Huff, Robustelli, Summerall, and Webster. When the losers were
quoted as saying it was the greatest game they had ever played in, everybody knew that
pro football had now arrived as a major sports attraction. In those days, I worked the
entire game…At halftime, for a brief respite, I put my teenage spotter on the air to give
his opinion of the game. That was Maury Povich’s broadcast debut.
--Bob Wolff on the Greatest Game Ever Played
Would you like to get in on the fun? Send your Top 5 list and stories to me at
themirl.com and check back on a regular basis. I will post the best lists so everyone
can share in your experiences. I have posted my list to get everyone started.
Enjoy "Being There".
|Please visit some of the sites that have helped make "Being There" a success:
Eric Mirlis is the owner and webmaster for TheMirl.com and has been a fixture on the New York sports scene for fifteen years.
He is Senior Editor of CSTV.com, while occasionally freelancing as a statistician for NFL on FOX, New Jersey Nets on YES
Network and New York Rangers radio broadcasts. Eric is also a frequent guest on "The Price Is Right" on Team 990,
Montreal's English language all-sports radio station. He was Assistant Media Relations Director of the New York Islanders
(1991-96) and Manager, Game Administration for the NBA (1996-2003). Among the events Eric has worked are six NBA
All-Star Games, seven NBA Pre-Draft Camps, a Stanley Cup Finals and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. He
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.