Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chris Meketansky's New York Sports Broadcaster Hall of Fame: Sam Rosen

Continuing our multi-part series, Chris Meketansky's New York Sports Broadcaster Hall of Fame, C-Mek gives us a closer look at some of the sports broadcasting icons of New York. The second is another great piece about Sam Rosen. You can read Chris' first article on Walt "Clyde" Frazier here.

A lack of accessibility has plagued the NHL for years in the league’s efforts to fight for scraps of the American sports fan’s attention. Once a novel four-team association, they have expanded across the country, into the West, where the closest ice is usually found chilling a drink. They even stuck one team (unsuccessfully) in the middle of the desert. An awkward game played on a slippery surface, in a nation that prefers round balls over flat pucks on a large scale. Sam Rosen makes this foreign sport normal and fun, earning him a spot in the New York Sports Broadcaster Hall of Fame

Rosen took over the post as New York Rangers television play-by-play man in 1984, a year before I was born, so it would make sense I can’t remember watching a game without his soundtrack. In 1986 Rosen began a nearly two decade long stretch of calling games with former Rangers’ goalie John Davidson providing color. The two formed a team that entertained and brought flair to hockey, a game that at times can be rough and unforgiving. With Rosen and Davidson it felt like you could be watching the game next to friends who could both explain the game, but not seem condescending doing so.

Sam Rosen instilled a sense of perspective into the action. He was always aware of the moment - which at times included tension filled playoff action — but never too disconnected from the reality of what hockey is to the audience, entertainment not life itself. In a Newsday article from April 20, 2009, Neil Best interviewed Rosen who said: "I think I'm able to transmit the love I have for the game and for what I do." Rosen, later in the article, said he approaches the games from a fan’s perspective, not as if he’s doing a job.

Being a fan of the Rangers can be tough at times, believe me I know. As great as winning the Stanley Cup in '94 was, moments near that caliber have been scarce. When thinking back to that rare instance of greatness, two things come to mind: the image of Mark Messier, taking the Stanley Cup from Gary Bettman, shaking the trophy and screaming into the air and the other is Rosen’s finest moment: after the final face-off drops in the Rangers zone and the dream is realized, Sam yells "The waiting is over! THE NEW YORK RANGERS ARE THE STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS! AND THIS ONE WILL LAST A LIFETIME!" While at the young age of nine-years-old, I couldn’t understand the pain of fifty-four championship-less years, but I can remember getting goose bumps hearing Rosen’s signature call. I still do thinking about it today.

Although Sam Rosen has been an accomplished broadcaster, calling football games and other sporting events of every nature, he will always be known as the Rangers play-by-play man. Rangers’ fans universally love him, and even after Davidson left the booth to take over as general manager of the Blues, Sam remains a consistent, humorous and entertaining voice. No other New York professional team can boast a broadcaster more intertwined with the franchise. He often rises above the performance on the ice with his talent and presence. Quick with a joke, emotional and humble, Sam Rosen makes watching Rangers games a great experience.

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