Monday, September 16, 2013
You can CALL me, Al.
Personally, I think Al is the best all-around play-by-play guy in the business. He of course, will be forever remembered for the US Olympic hockey team’s victory over the heavily-favored USSR in 1980 (“Do you believe in miracles? YES!”) That’s way better than my signature home run call: “It’s gone!...No, wait a minute.”
I got fired of course, and a year later was back in Los Angeles writing spec scripts with David Isaacs trying to break into television writing. I heard that the Dodgers were looking to add a third voice to their broadcast team of Vin Scully & Jerry Doggett. So I wrote a letter to Peter O’Malley, the president of the Dodgers, recommending Al Michaels. Now I had no idea whether he’d even want to give up being the number one guy on the Giants to become the number three guy on the Dodgers, but that was his problem.
In my letter I said I had never met Al Michaels (which was true) and had no idea whether he’d even be interested, but I thought he was a terrific young talent and should be considered.
About a month later I received a very nice note back from Mr. O’Malley thanking me and saying he would look into it. (I had included my contact information so that my letter might be taken seriously. When you get a letter with no return address it’s usually from Cliff Clavin.)
They didn’t hire him. They hired Ross Porter instead.
The following year, David and I had broken in. We were in my apartment one day writing our first MASH script when the phone rang. This was before all the robo-calls and people actually answered their phones.
I said, “Hello?” and a voice asked if this was Ken Levine? I said yes and the person identified himself as Al Michaels. Somehow he had received a copy of my letter and called out of the blue to thank me. It was a very cool gesture, and quite frankly, it floored me.
Over the years I’ve met him several times. We were even booked on the same Roy Firestone interview program on ESPN once. He’s always gracious, always treats me like a peer even though on the food chain he’s the king of the jungle and I’m a titmouse.
So there you have it. Do you believe in mensches? YES!