When ABC broadcast the All-Star Game from Riverfront Stadium 30 years ago today, Bengals receiver Cris Collinsworth gave ABC a scoop which Al Michaels declined to mention during the live telecast July 12, 1988.
Collinsworth wanted Michaels to mention on national television that he was getting engaged that night.
"We couldn't. But I loved his chutzpah," wrote Michaels in his 2014 autobiography, You Can’t Make This Up about his future TV partner for NBC's top-rated Sunday Night Football.
Collinsworth, then 29, was heading into his eighth and final season with the Bengals, which had drafted him in 1981 in the second round (37th overall) from the University of Florida.
Michaels had met Collinsworth several times when ABC broadcast Florida Gators' football games.
Here's what Michaels wrote:
"… He stopped by the booth before the game to ask if we could announce on national television that he'd be getting engaged to the beauteous Holly Bankemper before the night was done. We couldn't. But I loved his chutzpayh.
"In 2006, (NBC Sports chairman) Dick Ebersol had brought him over from Fox to work the 'Sunday Night Football' pregame show along with Bob Costas, making him the obvious candidate to replace John Madden when he retired. It was the perfect choice."
Riverfront Stadium hosted the 59th annual All-Star Game as part of the city's bicentennial celebration. The American League won 2-1. Oakland catcher Terry Steinbach was named MVP for driving in both runs, with a home run in the third and a sacrifice fly in the fourth. Here's the 1988 All-Star Game box score.
It was the only All-Star Game in which Barry Larkin and Kurt Stillwell – two of the Reds' farm system's "crowned jewels" shortstops in the early 1980s – appeared together in the mid-season classic. After the 1987 season, the Reds had traded Stillwell and pitcher Ted Power to the Kansas City Royals for lefty starter Danny Jackson and infielder Angel Salazar.
Obviously, the Reds made the right choice between the two shortstops.
Stillwell played nine seasons (1986-93, '96) for the Reds, Royals, Padres, Angels and Rangers. He retired in 1996 with a .249 batting average. He was an All-Star just once.
Larkin played 19 years for the Reds, compiling a .295 batting average. He played on 12 All-Star teams; won the 1995 National League MVP award, nine Silver Slugger awards and three Gold Gloves; and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.
Fort Thomas residents Cris and Holly Collinsworth have four grown children. He has won 16 Emmys – nine for outstanding sports studio analyst and seven for outstanding event analyst.
Collinsworth also is majority owner of Pro Football Focus, "which utilizes an exclusive and proprietary grading system to analyze the performance of every NFL and college player…. More than half of NFL clubs directly with Pro Football Focus to use its play-by-play and player grading analystics," says his NBC bio.