“You Can’t Make This Up: Miracles, Memories and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television” by Al Michaels with L. Jon Wertheim
Broadcasting, football, hockey, baseball, autobiography, memoir
November 18, 2014
5 of 5 stars (outstanding)
“Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” That is one of the most famous lines in sports broadcasting history. It made Al Michaels, who was already established as a respected broadcaster, a household name in households where sports may not mean much. Of course, the line came at the end of the hockey game between the United States and the USSR in the 1980 Winter Olympics. This was just one of the many highlights and stories Michaels shares in this terrific autobiography.
While there is an entire chapter dedicated to this iconic game, there is much more to Michaels’ career. He has been a baseball broadcaster for the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants before becoming a network (first ABC, then NBC) announcer. His baseball resume is also impressive with the networks, with his finest work coming during the 1989 World Series when an earthquake struck the San Francisco area just prior to the start of game three. His calm demeanor during that time has been well-documented but he is very humble in his recalling of that event – which is typical for all the anecdotes throughout the book.
He is also funny in many parts of the book as well. One of the best stories is in the chapter about Howard Cosell when Cosell got out of a car to break up a fight among gang members in Kansas City. There is also a great line when he was doing Giants games when he encouraged listeners to come to Candlestick Park so they could see for themselves how badly the team was playing.
His most notable assignment in the last decade has been as the voice of “Monday Night Football” on ABC, then “Sunday Night Football” on NBC is also well-documented. He doesn’t take the credit himself, however, as he speaks highly of his two partners during most of these football seasons, John Madden and Cris Collinsworth.
While the book covers his entire life, the bulk of the book is his broadcasting experience. While there are plenty of times he talks lovingly of his wife Linda and their children, don’t expect to read a lot about his personal life in this book. It concentrates mostly on his sports career and that made the book flow very well while reading it.
Overall, this was one of the better memoirs that I have read in that the author has a LOT of stories to tell, he tells them in a humble manner and does so in an engaging manner that any reader can enjoy.
Did I skim?
Pace of the book:
For a fairly long book, it read quite quickly and I was mesmerized by some of Michael’s stories, especially during the Olympics and his brief time as a horse owner.
Do I recommend?
Just about every generation of sport fan currently alive has some memory of an Al Michaels broadcast – if so, it is probably mentioned in the book. Any reader could probably pick out a few of the stories and think, "Oh, I remember that!" This makes it a good read for many people.
Book Format Read: