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Top Play-by-Play Broadcasters Reveal the One Game They Wish They Had Called

What is the one game or event that you wish you called and why?

That was the question I asked several of today's top play-by-play broadcasters across sports. 

Their responses ranged from baseball games featuring walk-off home runs to an NFL game that had one of the most memorable runs in history to a boxing match from the 1930s.

Here are the full responses:

AL MICHAELS, NBC: Game 3 of the 1932 Yankees-Cubs World Series at Wrigley Field, when Babe Ruth supposedly called his shot and homered. Clearly, he made a motion with his bat, but what he really meant has had many different interpretations. Nobody really knows, and it's too late to ask the Babe once again. 

But what I really would have wanted to do was interview him on the postgame show (not that one existed in those days) and get the real answer. Even then, he was such a character; he might have thrown me a curveball.

JIM NANTZ, CBS: I long for nothing, but I’m grateful for everything. Having said that, I would choose an event that has more to do with the company than the grandeur of the competition. Super Bowl I, Jan 15, 1967, for the CBS broadcast, of course. 

Would’ve happily taken on the role as a second sideline reporter on the opposite side of the field from Pat Summerall, who would later be a colleague and mentor. Would’ve given me the chance to work with a collection of broadcast all-stars. Pat, Ray Scott, Frank Gifford and Jack Whitaker. That’s why it would be No. 1 on my bucket list. 

Could’ve grabbed a quick interview with Hank Stram on the way to the K.C. locker room at halftime, not knowing at the time that we would later become booth mates at CBS.

JOE BUCK, FOX: 1960 World Series, Game 7, walk-off ninth-inning home run by Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates. No, not for the reason those who stupidly think I root against the Yankees think (yes, they did lose). But because it was the first World Series–winning walk-off home run by the home team in history, and it was a stunner, as the Yankees had been so DOMINANT. 

Cool moment. Wish I had seen it. Hell, I wish I had seen any of the baseball in that era. As good as the game has ever had.

KEVIN HARLAN, TURNER/CBS: I had always wanted to broadcast an MLB game, and the Boston Red Sox Radio Network had offered me a chance a couple of summers ago, when they had guest play-by-play for a game or series in Fenway, but I couldn’t make it work in my schedule, unfortunately. That would’ve been great. I was always mesmerized by the Indy 500 radio broadcast when I was young. So well-coordinated among the announcers and producers. Thrilling to listen.

I’ve had the honor of broadcasting five Final Fours and 11 Super Bowls, so I’ve been blessed more than I deserve. So I’ll mention instead one play I wish I could’ve broadcast.

The 2010 NFL playoff game between New Orleans and Seattle and the run by Marshawn Lynch.

Broken tackles. Stiff arms. Spins. Blocking. Using a lot of the field. Touchdown leap. It had everything. To describe that, on radio, with the pace of the run, the cadence, was perfect, and I would’ve enjoyed that challenge.

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MIKE BREEN, ESPN: Hard question to answer. So many actually. But I would I think I would have to go with Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. The drama of Willis Reed coming out of the tunnel. The spectacular play of my MSG Network partner, Clyde Frazier. The unbridled joy of Knick fans for their beloved team. One of the greatest examples of the beauty of team basketball the game has ever seen.

IAN EAGLE, TURNER/CBS: I grew up in Queens, N.Y., as the Big East was just beginning to electrify college basketball fans around the country. Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Pearl Washington became household names, and I was mesmerized by the story lines and competition. I chose to attend Syracuse University for a number of reasons, most notably the reputation they carved out in the broadcasting industry but also because of the 30,000-plus fans that would fill the Carrier Dome. My timing could not have been any better as the 1986–87 SU squad went on a memorable run in the NCAA tournament my freshman year. A crushing loss to Indiana in the Finals was a bitter pill to swallow (thanks again, Keith Smart), but I felt confident that the Orange would get over the hump in the near future.

Fast forward to 1996: Syracuse unexpectedly marched through the Big Dance on the shoulders of John Wallace but ran into a Kentucky buzzsaw at the Meadowlands in the Finals. I was fortunate enough to have a ticket for that game (but sat in the Wildcats' family section; I think I may have inadvertently high-fived Mark Pope's mom), but once again walked away disappointed.

I started calling the NCAA tournament for CBS Sports in 1998, which was a dream come true. I realized from the beginning if Syracuse ever appeared on my March Madness schedule, I would have to play it down the middle. It wasn't an issue because I hadn't been assigned any Syracuse tournament games. 

In 2003, Jim Spanarkel and I went to Tampa for the first and second rounds, but I was paying close attention to my alma mater because of talented freshman star Carmelo Anthony. Once again Syracuse advanced to the national championship game, and just like '87, it was in New Orleans. I couldn't make it to the Big Easy because of my NBA broadcast schedule, but my wife (also a Syracuse grad) and I put the kids to sleep and curled up on the couch ready to cheer on the Orange. Before I knew it I was up on my feet gesticulating on every possession as the drama unfolded. Anthony and fellow freshman Gerry McNamara led the way, and when Hakim Warrick blocked Michael Lee's jumper to seal the school's first title, we were jumping around the living room like it was the 1980s all over again. It would have been a thrill to call the action that April evening but the Orange win was still sweet and satisfying for this proud alum. 

STEVE LEVY, ESPN: The 2020 XFL championship game because that would mean that (almost) all was right with the world again. Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final comes to mind, but I would've wanted to be on the local broadcast, not the national call. 

I grew up a huge Rangers fan, and I knew what NYC was feeling at the time. There was no way I could've called that game as an impartial journalist. I was in my first year at ESPN, but still a Rangers fan at heart. I drank from the Cup late that night. Don't tell anyone.

MIKE TIRICO, NBC: April 7, 2003, Syracuse 81-Kansas 78, NCAA Basketball Championship, Louisiana Superdome. 'Melo leads with 20 points and 10 rebounds; Gerry McNamara knocks down six 3's; Hakim Warrick’s big block in the last seconds.

I was there as a fan that night, 16 years after being in the same building as a member of the student media in 1987 when my alma mater lost to Indiana on the Keith Smart shot. For the over one thousand Syracuse hoops games I have watched—and the dozens I was lucky enough to call—this would have been the one to call ... but my friend Jim Nantz did his usual great job that night.

KEVIN BURKHARDT, FOX: This is a really tough question—we all want to call all the big games and all the amazing games. The other part is what you dreamed of as a kid—calling championships for the teams you grew up rooting for. So I could pick the 1986 World Series (Mets) or Super Bowl LII (Eagles) for the teams I grew up with, but for this I’ll choose a sport I've never done—hockey.

My friends and I were New York Rangers fans as kids. I never played the sport, but we all used “Save Richter” as homage to Sam Rosen’s calls for everyday life.

I would have loved to call the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. I remember it well because before Game 7 I had my wisdom teeth out, and my dentist called me to make sure I didn’t fall asleep from the anesthesia, so I could watch the game! (I also just went back to YouTube to watch Sam’s call on the Pavel Bure breakaway in Game 4 (SAVE BY RICHTER!).

DAVE PASCH, ESPN: I’m spoiled because I got to call one of the best Super Bowls ever—Cardinals-Steelers in Super Bowl 43 in Tampa—as the radio announcer for the Cardinals. I took that job in 2002, after three years as the play-by-play voice for Syracuse football and basketball. In 2003, it was bittersweet sitting on my couch watching the Syracuse-Kansas national championship game. I grew up a Syracuse fan, almost cried in 1987 when they lost to Indiana at the buzzer. Spent four years there in college. Went back for three years as their announcer, and one year after leaving, they finally win the title. There are a lot of big events I wish I would’ve called, but the 2003 NCAA championship game stands out.

CURT MENEFEE, FOX: I was a 27-year-old guy who’d never done a second of play-by-play in his life at the time, but growing up a Braves fan, would’ve loved to have called the ninth-inning comeback against the Pirates in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS. Pinch hitter Francisco Cabrera with the hit that allowed Sid Bream—maybe the slowest runner in baseball history—to score the winning run from second base, beating the throw of Barry Bonds in left. I was jumping up and down, all alone in my living room, anyway, so would’ve been fun to announce it.

RYAN RUOCCO, ESPN: I’d go with Joe Louis–Max Schmeling II, June 22, 1938. Doing boxing play-by-play now, I have been amazed by the energy and pageantry of a huge championship fight, especially at heavyweight. With this fight you not only get that, but you are talking about absolutely incredible historic implications. The entire country rooting for Joe Louis, 70,000 people at Yankee Stadium watching. A first-round knockout courtesy of Louis. That is an event with such remarkable context and such a scintillating crescendo. It’s at the top of my list.

BRENT MUSBURGER: I’m still hopeful that I’m able to call the Raiders' first season in Las Vegas ... THIS FALL!!