Friday, February 22, 2013

33 Years Ago Today, How the Bay Area heard about the USA Hockey Team beating the Russians; Joe Starkey broadcast the Final 10 Minutes

Lake Placid NY, Feb 22, 1980
Thirty-three years ago today--a Friday no less, the news of the USA Hockey team's stunning victory over the vaunted Russian team in the Olympics, was first reported and heard in the Bay Area, by Joe Starkey.

Yes, that Joe Starkey.

Starkey was KGO Radio's morning sports anchor and was reporting live and direct from the Lake Placid Indoor Arena.

Of course, there was no Internet. And while millions of Americans knew the score via simple word of mouth and unintended wire service reports, it was Starkey's riveting account from a loud, cheering, upstate NY arena that would provide details of one of the biggest and most famous events in US sports history.

The actual game--a la Al Michael's, DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? chant, was televised later that night on ABC-TV.

UPDATE: Just received this e-mail from Starkey:

Rich: Some details you might enjoy knowing: The game was scheduled for tape delay on West Coast but actually played at a time that fit into the afternoon news block. I had just gone to work for KGO as Sports Director after 8 years in the NHL so I knew the game and players very well, even the Russians. When I saw the miracle begin to unfold I called the KGO newsroom and said I am willing to risk my job for you to stop the newscast and let me broadcast the final 10 minutes. There were no cell phones so I was on a regular phone line about 15 feet from Al Michaels and Ken Dryden and did the radio play by play which all West Coast ABC radio stations jumped in on immediately. I have always said for pure drama and scope of a sporting event it even surpassed the "Band is on the field". By the way, I didn't listen to the tape for many years and when I did I realized I used many of the same adjectives I used two years later at the end of "the play."
Best wishes,
Joe Starkey

*Follow me on Twitter


  1. I remember skiing at Stevens Pass, Washington that day, then going into the lodge for lunch and hearing the news about the win. Remember that the US then had to come from behind two days later against Finland, and they actually trailed in that game, going into the third period. I was just a little kid when the US beat the mighty Russians at Squaw Valley back in 1960, but I remember watching that game on TV with my dad. Great memories!

  2. Props when deserved, Rich! Excellent post with the inclusion ov Joe Starkey and thelink story.

    Great memories and a forever signature call that will last many generations.

    This is what we need more. Nicely done!

  3. It is always great to hear from Joe! :)