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Reds Hired Al Michaels 50 Years Ago Today

Al Michaels started his big league career as the Reds radio play-by-play announcer 1971-73.
Al Michaels started his big league career as the Reds radio play-by-play announcer 1971-73.

Fifty years ago today: Alan Richard "Al" Michaels, 26, was hired to be the radio voice of the National League Champion Cincinnati Reds on Nov. 24, 1970, and partner with analyst Joe Nuxhall.

Michaels came to Cincinnati from the Pacific Coast League's Hawaiian Islanders for his first big league sports announcing job when the Stroh Brewery Co. in Detroit took over Reds radio rights from the George Wiedemann Brewing Co. 

A week prior to the Michaels' announcement, Reds play-by-play announcer Jim McIntrye announced he had "withdrawn as a candidate" for the job after four seasons working for Wiedemann.

cris_collinsworth_al_michaels_2015_summer_press_tour_nbc.jpg
Credit Courtesy NBCUniversal

Michaels' three years in Cincinnati had a huge impact in launching one of the most prolific careers in sports broadcasting history. In 1972, he called the Reds National League Championship Series with Nux; did the Reds-Athletics World Series for NBC Sports; and was part of NBC Sports' crew covering the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. He did the '72 Olympics gold medal hockey game for NBC, which led to doing hockey at the 1980 Olympics for ABC Sports. (Do you believe in miracles?)

Before the "miracle on ice," Michaels was best known throughout Reds Country for his call of the Reds comeback win over the Pirates in the 1972 National League Championship Series on Oct. 11. First Johnny Bench tied the game 3-3 tie with a home run in the bottom of the ninth.

MICHAELS: The wind. And the pitch to Bench. Change. Hit in the air to deep right field. Back goes Clemente! At the fence! SHE'S GONE! Johnny Bench, who hits most home runs to left, homers to right and the game is tied!

Tony Perez followed with a single, and was replaced by pinch runner George Foster. With two outs and Foster on third, reliever Bob Moose threw the most famous wild pitch in Reds history.

MICHAELS: In the dirt! It's a wild pitch! Here comes Foster! The Reds win the pennant!

Here is Michaels' WLW radio call combined with the NBC video:

https://youtu.be/8rrOqXahuTg

"That was a hell of a year for me, 1972. The Winter Olympics in February, and the World Series in October," he once told me.

Michaels, who calls NBC's Sunday Night Football with Cris Collinsworth, did his first NFL telecasts for NBC in 1973, as his three-year Reds deal was ending, opening the Reds radio job for Marty Brennaman.

He left here to do San Francisco Giants radio in 1974, before going network. He has done NFL games in primetime for 35 years, the last 15 on SNFTV's top-rated show for a record nine years.

NBC Sports claims Michaels has been seen on primetime TV more than anyone in history. He's the only person to call the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, NHL Stanley Cup Finals and Winter and Summer Olympics on network TV. He is an eight-time Emmy Award winner, and a member of both the Television Academy Hall of Fame and the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Don't be surprised if next year he adds the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award to his honors. He's one of eight finalists for the award.

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