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Al Michaels Sounds Off On 1987 World Series Sound Level

As the 1987 St. Louis Cardinals regular season concluded in a most promising manner, with a division title, I made the trek to St. Louis for the first two games of the National League Championship Series, a set in which the Cards prevailed over the then-and-now pesky San Francisco Giants in seven games.

Next up were the Minnesota Twins in the World Series.

To say I was delighted was putting it mildly. After all, a few years earlier, I had moved to Minnesota. With a friend, I had entered and won four seats via the Twins’ post-season lottery weeks before the opponent was known. Now, I could see the Cardinals in the World Series and sleep in my own bed each night!

As it turned out, I never actually sat in my own seats for any of the four Series contests held in the Metrodome, all won by the home club. My place of employment had amazing tickets, which we used to entertain clients. They were located in a temporary section of seats, an extension of the stands onto the turf area behind third base.

That’s right. We basically watched all four home games of the World Series in an area that was so close to the action, it was normally on the field in foul ground.

Perhaps because of my high level of personal involvement, the seven-game loss in the 1987 World Series has always bothered me more than the other one from the era that tends to stick most firmly in so many Cardinals followers’ craws – the 1985 Don Denkinger Series loss at the hands of the Kansas City Royals.

But what irritated me most immediately was the noise in the Metrodome. Not just the peaks, but over three hours of consistent high-decibel volume was apparently emanating from 55,000 Homer Hanky-waving fans, sound the likes of which I had never heard before – or since.

I had been to many events before and after that post-season in the Metrodome (which was torn down last year). Not just Twins games, but also Vikings and Gophers football games, concerts, Major League Soccer contests and even Timberwolves games. (The expansion NBA team played there before their arena was built.)

I had never experienced the sustained level of noise I heard in the 1987 post-season. Even with earplugs in place during the games, my ears rang afterward. That may not be all that surprising, except they were still ringing the next day! That is the first and only time I had ever dealt with that kind of audio hangover and is a story I have re-told many times over the last 28 years.

Now, there is new news that supports the long-suspected reason for my hearing loss.

National broadcaster Al Michaels, who just last Sunday did his normal understated and excellent play-by-play job at the Super Bowl, was also working the 1987 World Series.

During a Wednesday interview on Pro Football Talk Live on NBC Sports Radio and recounted by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Michaels pointedly accused the Twins of pumping in artificial noise during that World Series. He also feels the Vikings followed the practice regularly.

You can read the specifics of Michaels’ comments as well as local reaction here.

Of course in reality, a healthy Jack Clark may have gone a lot further toward a different outcome for the Cardinals in 1987 than a natural ballpark setting, but at least now I may have grounds to sue over my hearing loss!

A accumulation of rock music listening over the next 10 years before the Cardinals again reached the playoffs had nothing to do with it, I insist!

P.S. At the close of their version of the denial story, the other major local paper, the Minneapolis StarTribune, added this:

In a 2013 interview soon after he retired as Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission executive director, Bill Lester characterized long-running artificial noise accusations as nothing more than “urban myth.”

Lester did acknowledge to Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal that the Vikings had an “eccentric” sound person who “could create even more sound or direct it at the bench of the opposing team. … They didn’t pump anything extra in.”

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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One Response to “Al Michaels Sounds Off On 1987 World Series Sound Level”

  1. blingboy says:

    I cannot imagine a ringside seat for the World Series. For four games no less. Glorious.

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