Eric Mirlis’ new book, “I Was There!” invites a wide variety of sports media figures to weigh in on a familiar sports-fan discussion topic:
What are the best sports moments you have seen in person?
In this case, each contributor – including some of the biggest names in the business, from Marv Albert to Joe Buck to Bob Costas to Jim Nantz, as well as many sportswriters, was asked to pick a top five.
The good news is that as credentialed journalists, they collectively have witnessed every major sports event of the past half-century or so.
The bad news is that whether as journalists or fans, they by definition were observers, not participants.
In too many cases, the essays add little to a reader’s insight that could not have been gleaned from watching on TV or reading about it.
The book is at its best where the contributors do what journalists should do: Offer behind-the-scenes peaks others don’t have access to.
That includes Costas on watching Kirk Gibson warm up by hitting balls off a tee before pinch hitting in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Thom Brennaman on running into Michael Jordan after Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS at Wrigley Field and Terry Gannon on his connection to Rudy Ruettiger and the 1975 Georgia Tech-Notre Dame game.
Also a welcome change of pace: Those who describe off-the-beaten-path events you never have heard of, such as Michelle Beadle on a Western Professional Hockey League game between the Waco Wizards and Austin Ice Bats in 1996, and Frank Deford on a Bears-Colts game in 1953 – the oldest event recalled in the book.
A reader can’t help but come up with his or her own list during the process.
In my case it would include the obvious, such as Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, and the less so, such as the 1979 Providence-Cornell ECAC hockey quarterfinal. (It’s on YouTube. See for yourself.)
How about you?