Michaels gets '21 Frick for 'first love, baseball'

July 25th, 2021

Veteran broadcaster Al Michaels was honored as the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award recipient for broadcasting excellence by the National Baseball Hall of Fame during a presentation broadcast that aired on MLB Network on Sunday.

Michaels, 76, is best known as the longtime play-by-play voice for NBC’s Sunday Night Football and for his iconic call of the U.S. hockey team’s 1980 Miracle on Ice at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, but he got his start covering baseball.

A Brooklyn native, Michaels grew up attending Dodgers games at Ebbets Field and has fond memories of cheering on Jackie Robinson and admiring the work of fellow broadcasting legend Vin Scully.

“I remember thinking, ‘I want to be here every day,’” Michaels said. “How great would it be to be here every single day?”

Michaels was initially devastated to learn that the Dodgers would be moving to the West Coast in 1958, but his father soon relocated to Los Angeles for work, allowing him to continue to cultivate his love for the game. He decided to study broadcasting at Arizona State University, helping him land a gig as the voice of the Pacific Coast League’s Hawaii Islanders, the Triple-A affiliate of the White Sox in '68.

After that, Michaels became the lead announcer for the Reds in 1971 before the Giants poached him in '74. He made the jump to ABC Sports two years later, becoming the play-by-play voice of Monday Night Baseball. He delivered perhaps his most famous coverage during the '89 World Series, when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck prior to the start of Game 3 between the Giants and A’s.

"I don't know if we're on the air or not, and I'm not sure I care at this particular moment, but we are,” Michaels famously said once ABC managed to restore its audio feed from Candlestick Park. “Well folks, that's the greatest open in the history of television. Bar none."

Michaels went on to use his knowledge of the Bay Area to cover the earthquake as a news story, becoming only the second sportscaster to land a News Emmy nomination.

“None of this would have happened without my first love, baseball,” Michaels said. “So for somebody who hasn’t done a game in a quarter century, getting into Cooperstown, it’s a really cool thing.”