Al Michaels called the football games for over 30 years, but had a special reason to call Pete Rose his favorite athlete to cover


Long before joining NBC Sports and spending many Sunday nights watching Tom Brady’s touchdowns, Al Michaels devoted his weeknight nights to Pete Rose and the Cincinnati Reds.

Recent generations naturally know Michaels for his work on Sunday night football and, once upon a time, as the voice of EA Sports Madden NFL series. However, he spent several years as the Reds’ radio announcer in the 1970s and developed a close friendship with Rose, the controversial hit king.

Al Michaels called Pete Rose his favorite athlete he had the opportunity to cover

Legendary Sports Announcer Al Michaels Hailed Cincinnati Reds Great Pete Rose | Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images; Focus on sport via Getty Images

After spending a few years as a sports presenter and play-by-play voice in Hawaii, Michaels returned to the mainland in 1971. At just 26 years old, the Arizona state graduate teamed up with the ‘Former Reds pitcher Joe Nuxhall on team radio broadcasts. .

While it was a few years before the Big Red Machine emerged and won back-to-back World Series titles, the Reds nonetheless had a solid core in place. Johnny Bench was already emerging as one of the league’s top young receivers, and third baseman Tony Perez ensured a consistent presence in the middle of the order.

Then there was Pete Rose. The All-Star right fielder hit 0.304 with 192 hits and 13 homers in 160 games that year.

In his 2014 book You can’t make it up, Michaels described Rose, who remained with the Reds until the end of the 1978 season, as his favorite athlete whom he had the opportunity to cover.

“I watched all of his shots for three years. His work ethic was out of this world. He was a great teammate, embraced by almost everyone on the team. When you were with him, you always felt more alive.

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Rose reached 0.317 in the three seasons Michaels spent as the voice of the Reds. The eventual king of the sport’s hits won the 1973 NL MVP award when he reached 0.338 in a Reds team that lost to Tom Seaver and the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series.

Rose’s skills have been forgotten in the years since her lifetime ban

Rose is naturally one of those athletes whose name evokes a negative connotation. A lifetime ban on playing the games will do so, even in an era when professional sports leagues have largely embraced legalized betting.

Those who only know Rose for his ban may never appreciate how talented he was as a hitter. The 17-time All-Star has smashed receivers, sacrificed his body to make catches, and retired as one of the most valuable and important players in modern history.

During that same section of his book, Michaels reflected on his close relationship with the Reds legend and how Rose is more than someone who will likely never enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I loved being with him because I was always learning something new about the game. He would see nuances and subtleties that no one else saw. I would sit with him on the bus leaving a stadium, and he could recite the score from his brain box. The score of the entire box. He literally remembered every pitch in a game.

Al michaels

Michaels, who became the voice of the San Francisco Giants on television in 1974, also dismissed the idea that Rose was selfish “because he paid so much attention to his own stats.”

“This is completely absurd,” Michaels wrote. “He paid attention to everybody statistics.”

Michaels always enjoyed his time in and around baseball

The youngest of millennials, and anyone born in or after 1997, know and appreciate Michaels for his work in the NFL. It’s hard to argue with such an idea given that he has regularly called NFL games since 1986. Older generations, however, will never forget his work on Monday night baseball (yes, it did exist) or the Olympics.

Michaels, for his part, never saw baseball as a stepping stone that he used to become a leading voice in the NFL. He has spoken enthusiastically about his experiences with everyone from Rose to longtime Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, whom he tried to replicate at a young age.

Michaels last called a baseball game in 2011 when he and Bob Costas, his then NBC Sports colleague, were working on a Mets-Giants game for MLB Network. The Mets’ 5-2 victory that night marked the first time Michaels had announced a baseball game since the 1995 World Series.

The baseball world hasn’t forgotten Michaels, who entered the Hall of Fame earlier this year as the recipient of the 2021 Ford C. Frick Award. One can only selfishly hope that the legendary announcer works one last baseball game, be it on MLB Network or YouTube.

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