10 Great Cincinnati Sports Calls


Illustration by Emi Villavicencio

Relive the greatest moments in Cincinnati sports history with the calls that made them memorable.

Date: September 11, 1985

Event: Pete Rose breaks Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record

Who Called It: Marty Brennaman

The Call: The words themselves barely mattered, and in fact the call itself isn’t that dramatic—except for Joe Nuxhall. He yells, “There it is, there it is, get down. Alright!” as Brennaman calls it: “Hit number 4,192, a line drive single into left center field, a clean base hit. And it is pandemonium here in Riverfront Stadium.” It’s the accomplishment that mattered: Breaking a record thought unbreakable, amassing more hits in 24 seasons than any other player ever. Will Pete ever be dethroned? It’s highly unlikely. The closest active player is Miguel Cabrera, with 3,111 hits at this writing, who’s retiring after this season. The next closest active player? Joey Votto, with 2,093 hits over his 16 seasons.

Date: January 27, 1992

Event: Terry Nelson Calls His Shot

Who Called It: Terry Nelson

The Call: Just two days before the University of Cincinnati Bearcats met the Xavier Musketeers in the Crosstown Shootout, there it was atop page 1 of The Cincinnati Post: “Xavier doesn’t have a chance.” UC forward Terry Nelson, a junior from California in his first season on the team, with only a few starts under his belt, was calling his shot. It’s not a broadcast call, but when the Bearcats took the court and thumped the Musketeers, winning by 18, it earned a place on this list. (The full quote was: “Xavier doesn’t really have a chance. The fact that they’re at home [doesn’t mean much]. I feel it’s not like their home game because it’s not on their campus. I think we should go in there and blow them out.”)

Date: November 26, 1996

Event: Xavier Beats No. 1

Who Called It: Andy MacWilliams

The Call: The game was on the line as Xavier radio announcer Andy MacWilliams began his call: “Brown against [Darnell] Burton, Brown starting his dribble, he moves in, he pops up, he shoots, SCORES! Lenny Brown! Xavier wins it! The Muskies win it! 71–69. The UC Bearcats are number one in the country, number two in their own city!” UC was ranked No. 1, playing the second game of the season against an unranked Xavier team that had won only one of the previous six matchups.

Date: December 18, 1999

Event: Xavier Beats No. 1, Take Two

Who Called It: Dick Vitale

The Call: In 1999, UC was again ranked No. 1 in the nation. Conference play had just begun, and the team had an 8–0 record. It looked like UC would make a strong run through the NCAA tournament. (And it might have been, if only Kenyon Martin hadn’t broken his leg.) This year’s iteration of the shootout went big time, airing on ESPN with Dick Vitale adding color commentary. And Vitale put his signature stamp (about 4:14 at the link) on his first XU–UC game, booming, “It’s upset city, baby!” as students and fans swarmed the court at the Cincinnati Gardens.

Date: June 5, 2008

Event: Cyclones Win 2008 Kelly Cup

Who Called It: John Hamel

The Call: Throughout the team’s history, the Cincinnati Cyclones have changed leagues, venues, owners, and logos. After a two-year hiatus in the early aughts, the team’s owner—Nederlander Entertainment, which also owns the building in which the team plays—dropped the puck on a revival of the franchise. In 2008, the team won the city’s first professional sports championship since 1990. The Cyclones’ then–PR director and broadcaster John Hamel (1:52:47 at the link) borrowed from Derek Wills, who had called the Hamilton Bulldogs’ AHL Championship win the previous year, in celebrating the Cyclones: “My good friend Dereck Wills up in Hamilton said it best last year, and I tell you what folks, you don’t mess with perfection. Dereck Wills, the consummate pro, had the greatest close ever, I’ve gotta use it here. The game is over! The Cyclones have knocked off the Wranglers 3–1. The series is over! The Cyclones claim it, 4 games to 2. The season is over, and for the first time in Cyclones history, the Kelly Cup, all 25 pounds of it, is gonna be on display here in Cincinnati for the next year! How about that one?”

Date: December 5, 2009

Event: Cincinnati 45, Pitt 44

Who Called It: Dan Hoard

The Call: When Hoard was inducted into the UC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019 alongside the 2009 Bearcats football team, he called this moment during the 2009 Big East Championship “the highlight of my broadcasting career so far.” Down by 21 points in the waning moments of the first half, UC began a remarkable comeback by returning a kickoff for a touchdown. That momentum carried through to the second half, when the team scored three more touchdowns and a two-point conversion to draw even with Pitt. Then the Panthers ran in for a touchdown with less than two minutes to play. UC got the ball back, and then, as Hoard describes it: “They have one time out left. Twenty-three-year-old Tony Pike waits for the snap, has the football. Short drop, lobs one down the sideline for Binns. He’s got it! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! Armon Binns!”

Date: September 28, 2010

Event: Reds Clinch NL Central

Who Called It: Marty Brennaman

The Call: It had been 15 years since the Reds had seen post-season play, and the team returned to the National League Division Series on the bat of Jay Bruce, as Brennaman describes (No. 2 at the link): “So here’s [Houston Astros pitcher Tim] Byrdak and here’s Bruce. And a high fly ball, center field! He hit it a ton, and it’s gone! And the 2010 central division championship belongs to the Cincinnati Reds!” Brennaman himself cites this as one of his favorite calls, telling the MLB network’s Hot Stove (about 1:07 at the link) he was thrilled for Bruce. “That was an emotional moment in the ballpark, and it came off the bat of one of the really nice guys I’ve been associated with in this game.”

Date: March 7, 2017

Event: Norse Go Dancing

Who Called It: Jim Kelch

The Call: When universities switch from Division II to Division I, fans usually resign themselves to a rocky transition during the four years that must pass before teams are eligible for the NCAA tournament. Northern Kentucky University spent three seasons in the Atlantic Sun Conference before transitioning to the Horizon League, and its first year there was not great. The team won only nine games and went 5–13 in conference play. Things turned around the following season, just in time for tournament eligibility, as Jim Kelch pointed out at the Horizon League Championship (about 1:26 at the link): “Northern Kentucky fans, pack your dancing shoes! For the first time in the Division I era, the Northern Kentucky Norse are going to the NCAA tournament! A nine-win team last year just won their 24th game. If you don’t know the name now, Mr. Bryant Gumbel, you better learn it cause you’re gonna say it on Selection Sunday.”

Date: June 28, 2017

Event: Mitch Says No

Who Called It: Tom Gelehrter and Kevin McCloskey

The Call: In 2017, FC Cincinnati was still in the United Soccer League, looking to build on the previous season’s third-place finish. The team had its eye on the U.S. Open Cup tournament, where FCC would face—and hopefully defeat—opponents from Major League Soccer, the highest league in the U.S. The orange and blue took down the Columbus Crew in the fourth round for a chance to face the Chicago Fire in the round of 16. Scoreless in full-time, the teams slogged through two additional scoreless periods of extra time, leading to a penalty kick shootout. As the Fire’s Juninho (Vitor Gomes Pereira Junior) took his shot, Tom Gelehrter practically lost his mind delivering the final call.

TG: “Juninho will take it for Chicago. Chants of ‘Mitch says no’ echoing throughout the Queen City. [Mitch] Hildebrandt looking for some more magic. Juninho will put his foot on it. Hildebrandt has done it! Magic continues here in Cinti! MH with three penalty kick saves, and FC Cincinnati is on to the round of eight….” KM: “What a moment Tommy, what a special moment.” TG: “An epic performance in penalty kicks by Mitch Hildebrand! Three saves on four PKs and FC Cincinnati has set off the biggest party Nippert Stadium has ever seen! They are dancing in the Bailey tonight!”

Date: January 16, 2022

Event: Bengals First Playoff Win in 32 Years

Who Called It: Dan Hoard and Dave Lapham

The Call: Coming off two consecutive losing seasons, the 2021 Bengals rode a 10–7 record into a matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders in the Wildcard round of the playoffs. The Bengals led the whole game, but in the fourth quarter, the Raiders had the ball and were driving toward a tying touchdown as the clock wound down. Following two incomplete passes, with no time outs remaining and 17 seconds on the clock, Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr lined up on the Bengals 9-yard line. Dan Hoard starts the play-by-play and excitable former Bengal Dave Lapham chimes in on the pair’s catchphrase as the play unfolds.

DH: “Nine yards of real estate will determine this playoff game. Fourth down and goal from the 9. Seventeen seconds to go, the play clock at three. Shotgun snap. Carr throws into traffic…” DL: “Nice! Nice! Nice!” DH: “Intercepted! Germaine Pratt…” DL: “Hoo, baby!” DH: “…has the football!” DL: “Yeah!” DH: “Coffin nails!” DL: “Bam! Bam! Bam! How about that?”

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