With the 47th annual GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods rapidly approaching, I feel good knowing we have such an incredible team on Bassmaster LIVE.
The Classic, which is taking place March 24-26 on Lake Conroe with daily weigh-ins at Minute Maid Park in Houston, will feature live coverage each day on Bassmaster.com.
Not only do we have the best cameramen and field team in the business, we have an absolute dream team handling things in the studio — and they’ll need to be on their game for this one more than ever.
Guys like Tommy Sanders, Mark Zona and Davy Hite will bear the responsibility of narrating one of the biggest events in the history of professional bass fishing — a springtime world championship on a big-fish factory with weigh-ins in the fourth-largest city in the United States.
Inevitably, at some point during the broadcast, they’ll have to make the call for one of the biggest moments the sport has ever experienced.
History tells us just how important that job is.
Al Michaels, one of the greatest sports play-by-play men of all-time, called the United States hockey team’s seemingly impossible win over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.
As the game was ending, Michaels uttered the bone-chilling line, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
It was a bigger-than-life moment that needed an exclamation point, and Michaels added it perfectly. Even if you’re not a hockey fan, that clip will make you well up almost four decades later.
Most young folks don’t remember George Foreman’s devastating knockout of then-heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier in 1976. They probably don’t recall that Foreman knocked Frazier down six times in less than six minutes.
But they remember Howard Cosell’s call of the first knockdown.
“Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”
People who were born 20 years after that fight still use the line today. If a friend slips and falls, they yell, “Down goes Frazier!” — even if their friend’s name is Smith.
Good play-by-play calls become cemented in our memories, and the Bassmaster LIVE crew has already had its share.
Tommy and Zona did a phenomenal job of just letting the action happen when Aaron Martens landed a tournament-clinching 7-pounder during his Elite Series victory in 2015 at Chesapeake Bay.
Then Zona’s gave one of those ageless, echoing calls: “I. Am. Speechless.”
Trust me, folks. When Zona is speechless, something really special has just happened.
During last year’s Classic Bracket event on the Niagara River, Dean Rojas won his match with a last-minute 3-pounder that he basically predicted before the cast. Again, Tommy and Zona stepped back out of the way before punctuating the moment by saying “Dean the Machine calls his shot.”
I don’t know what the moment will be for this Classic.
I don’t know how they’ll have to make the call.
But as a sports fan, I know what an awesome responsibility that call will be.
Sometimes when my mind wanders, for some reason, the legendary Vin Scully’s voice will creep into my head.
He made the call of the classic 1988 World Series game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland Athletics.
He was on the mic when Dodgers outfielder Kirk Gibson hobbled to the plate on two bad knees to face Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley — one of the most imposing closers in the history of baseball — during the ninth inning of Game 1.
Scully’s call as Gibson muscled a home run into the bleachers to help the Dodgers win the game and ultimately the series went like this: “High fly ball into deep right field. She is gone!”
Then like all the great ones do, Scully went silent for a few seconds as Gibson limped around the bases to complete one of the most dramatic moments in sports history. It was his only at-bat of the series.
Scully finished with this: “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.”
No matter where I am or why I think of it, that call still gives me chills today.
Tommy, Davy, Zona…I dare you guys to do better.