“Do You Believe In Miracles!!?? YEEESSSS!!”


If you’re a hockey fan, and I mean a real hockey fan, then you obviously know the title of this post is from Al Michaels’ play-by-play call of the historic 1980 Men’s Olympic Hockey semi final match-up between USA and Russia (at the time, the USSR), in the upstate New York Olympic Village of Lake Placid.  The United States pulled off the  big upset in dramatic fashion on their way to the gold medal, and to this day I get goosebumps EVERY time I hear his call of the final seconds.  It is arguably the biggest event in sports history, and definitely Michaels’ most famous play-by-play in his storied career as a sports broadcaster. 

Now, I bring this game up for two reasons: 1) USA beat Finland last night in the IIHF World Championship to advance to one of  Friday’s semifinal contests against the defending champ…you guessed it, Russia; and 2) I stumbled upon this pretty cool 10 minute YouTube video of a different announcer’s call of the game; live, just as he saw it unfold on the afternoon of February 22, 1980 in Lake Placid, NY. The story behind how it came to be is incredible, and I promise worth the read. 

A little background about the announcer first:

Curt Chaplin is a sports guy, but even more than that, he’s a self proclaimed ‘hockey guy.’  He was a sports reporter for ABC Radio Network in New York City from 1977-81, and covered everything from the Rangers and Islanders, to the Mets and Yankees.  In 1980, he was chosen to be a part of the XIII Winter Olympic Games coverage team, and reported on a wide aray of events, including the luge, speed skating and skiing.  He was also lucky enough to get an assignment for the USA vs. USSR semi final game…only his assignment wasn’t to do the play-by-play.  Curt’s actual assignment for this historic event in not only hockey, but our nations history, was to get post game sound clips for the networks anchormen.  Remember though, he is a hockey guy and  actually covered the exhibition game that took place between these two teams at Madison Square Garden in NYC a few weeks prior; when the Soviets beat the Americans in front of the home crowd, by dismantling them 11-3.  He had been following the Soviet Red Army Team for years, and knew every player; he even spent the days leading up to the game studying all the  Olympic players names and numbers.  All of this  for a game he was supposed to just do post game sound clips…not do a play-by-play call.  Once he stepped inside the building, the energy and atmosphere got to him; as the players skated towards center ice for the opening face-off, Curt hit record on his tape recorder and started doing play-by-play.  Just like that.  He had no color commentator assisting him, no statisticians to use, and was perched on a camera platform about a neutral zone away from Al Michaels and Ken Dryden.  As an avid hockey fan, he tried to call the game as he saw it and as best he could for what he had; it would end up being the ONLY hockey game he ever called during his professional broadcasting career.  You can feel his emotion in the way he calls the game, and his play-by-play of the Eruzione goal leaves me speechless.  Very professional, for a ‘fly-by-night’ broadcast.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. 

To get the full story, checkout this 2008 email interview with Curt Chaplin himself , from Fang’s Bites Sports Media Blog.

I am interested to hear what the Loge thinks about this play-by-play compared to Al Michaels’ (even though all we have are 10 mintes to go by), so please feel free to leave a comment.

– Coach

14 Responses to ““Do You Believe In Miracles!!?? YEEESSSS!!””

  1. 1 commissionerdangle
    May 7, 2009 at 1:46 PM

    wow…great story. Definitely started getting goosebumps at the 8min mark into that.

  2. 2 LPsnipa6
    May 7, 2009 at 1:47 PM

    Music to my ears Coach. Man coach you are on fire recently. I listened to it and think its great. I never knew of this story before. I recommend that all loge readers if you have not been there before or if your significant other and or kids have not been there to go up to Lake Placid for a few days and just sit in 1980 Olympic Arena and soak it all in. As a hockey fan especially if you are American its a great moment. I say this because I have done it myself.

  3. 5 thekiiid
    May 7, 2009 at 1:48 PM

    Amazing reporting Coach. I would have never known about this. Weird to think that this game still inspires players young and old.

  4. 6 Coach
    May 7, 2009 at 2:03 PM

    What you have to love about this story (you have to read the interview link to get the full story) is that Curt Chaplin has never thought about selling his call of the game. He tells interested fans that it was nothing but a “labor of love for him.” This game will be forever known by Al Michael’s call of the game, but this is certainly one of the coolest side stories I have ever read about. I would love to see/hear his entire call of the game.

  5. 8 loge69
    May 7, 2009 at 2:32 PM

    Damn Coach, getting us the dirt on nhl smokers, digging up a call of the Miracle on Ice that no one has ever heard before, you got the hot hand. What’s next? You going undercover to find the first gay nhler?

  6. 11 freshness19
    May 7, 2009 at 4:02 PM

    Coach, solid article right there. I had no idea about that story. The guy was super passionate which made it the most chilling commentary I’ve ever heard. Good research!

  7. May 7, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    Excellent work here boys. The loge has just been straight fire for the past couple of days.

  8. 13 Curt Chaplin
    May 24, 2009 at 4:49 AM

    thank you very much for posting my story and thanks to everyone for your kind comments. in the past 6 months i’ve been asked for copies of the full 60-min. version by Eruzione, Craig, Johnson, Morrow and several others. And it has been accepted (along with my original Lake Placid Olympic ABC press credential) by the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. it took 30 years but it’s like a dream come true.

  9. September 7, 2009 at 12:54 PM

    Thanks for linking to my interview with Curt. I just happened to stumble on the video as well and asked Curt for an interview. It’s been one of the most linked features on my blog and I thank the true hockey fans for visiting.

    Curt did a great call as you can see from the video.

    Fang’s Bites

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