Al Michaels, who got his big league start with the Cincinnati Reds 50 years ago, is the 2021 recipient of the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award.
Two weeks ago marked the 50th anniversary of the Reds hiring Michaels, then just 26, from the Pacific Coast League's Hawaiian Islanders for his first big major league sports announcing job. He did Reds radio games with Joe Nuxhall for three seasons (1971-73).
His brief Cincinnati stay had a huge impact on launching one of the most prolific careers in sports broadcasting history. In 1972, he called the Reds National League Championship Series with Nuxhall; 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 covering hockey for the 1980 Olympics for ABC Sports. (Do you believe in miracles?)
The New York native and longtime Los Angeles resident, who left here for the San Francisco Giants radio job starting in 1974, was the main voice of ABC's Monday Night Baseball from 1976 to 1989, when he was in the booth as an earthquake jolted San Francisco's Candlestick Park during the 1989 World Series.
Michaels currently calls NBC's Sunday Night Football, TV's top-rated primetime show for a record nine years, with Cris Collinsworth, the former Bengals receiver who lives in Fort Thomas. Michaels 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 (who was the 2000 Frick Award recipient). Michaels will be presented the award in Cooperstown July 24.
NBC says Michaels has done primetime NFL games for 35 years, the last 15 on SNF.
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.
Next summer he will have a new honor for his bookshelf.
Michaels came to Cincinnati shortly after the 1970 World Series when the Stroh Brewery Co. in Detroit took over Reds radio rights from the George Wiedemann Brewing Co. Marathon Oil was a major sponsor, too, giving away 55 gallons of Marathon gas to Reds who hit home runs.
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.
See my 50th anniversary story with Michaels' famous calls from the Reds comeback win over the Pirates in the 1972 National League Championship Series on Oct. 11.