Michaels covers it all from his days calling minor league baseball in Hawaii (where he also did remote re-creations of road games) to his work on national networks. He discusses the impact of listening to Red Barber and Vin Scully calling Dodgers games when Al was a youth in Brooklyn. He provides fascinating insight on Howard Cosell and takes you behind the scenes on his Olympic hockey telecasts. Michaels also lends great perspective on his role in covering the 1989 Bay Area earthquake and his relationship with OJ Simpson.
A few nuggets about Michaels from the book:
- he attended Super Bowl 1 as a fan
- one of his first jobs was working for Chuck Barris lining up potential contestants for The Dating Game
- Curt Gowdy offered to listen to a tape of a 19-year old Michaels and gave him broadcasting advice
- during filming for his guest appearance on Hawaii Five-O, he was "big timed" by lead actor Jack Lord
- as a college student he successfully pranked a Phoenix newspaper into publishing phony stories about a fictitious high school baseball player
- Al's father played a key role in the original 1960 AFL TV contract with ABC
I like the way Michaels provides honest (i.e. negative) opinions about some of his former colleagues in the TV industry. He also supplies background on his "Rascal" tendencies such as alluding to pointspreads during telecasts.
I'll also point out a few errors I spotted:
- On page 74, while discussing his stint calling UCLA basketball, Michaels talks about the 1974 UCLA-Notre Dame game. He claims that it was nationally televised by NBC and was one of the first first NBC assignments for Dick Enberg. However, Enberg called it for TVS which nationally syndicated the game. The NBC regular season national TV package with Enberg didn't begin until two seasons later.
- On page 125, he mentions calling a mid-October 1978 Washington at Stanford college football game for ABC and how much his analyst Frank Broyles raved about then-Stanford coach Bill Walsh. But, the 10/14/1978 game between those schools wasn't televised by ABC. Michaels must have meant the 9/16/1978 San Jose St at Stanford game which he and Broyles called on ABC.
- On page 111, he talks about the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team clinching a berth in the medal round with a comeback win over West Germany. In reality, a loss by Czechoslovakia earlier that day rendered the USA game against West Germany meaningless in the Olympic standings. By the time the players took the ice, Team USA was already locked into second place in their division.
Overall, the book (on one of my all-time favorite broadcasters) is quite an entertaining and informative read.