Tune in for a great, yet late, gift | TheUnion.com

Tune in for a great, yet late, gift

So, what’s the perfect gift for the sports fan?

OK, I know I’m late, but until Christmas Day, I had little to offer on the topic.

But after Santa paid a visit to the new Hamilton homestead, I got just the thing – even though I’ve been advised that the satellite TV subscription I was given is merely on a trial basis.

My family wants to see how I respond during the trial period – or, if I respond at all, for that matter.

For the better part of two years, this sports fan has relied on the print media to keep up with the sports world. It’s not that as a newspaper guy I have any aversion to ESPN’s SportsCenter.

It’s just not free.

That’s why, until Wednesday, you would have found me wigglin’ the rabbit ears on game day – that’s if I’d even bothered with the futility of finding broadcast signals in the foothills.

Aside from the cost, I justified the lack of cable or satellite programming as being good for the family. You know, turn off the TV, turn on the dialogue. And besides, it wasn’t as though I didn’t get enough sports at work.

But, upon further review …

In order to get the sports section to your doorstep Thursday morning, I had to pass on ABC’s telecast of the Kings-Lakers matchup in favor of coverage provided by the Associated Press wire.

The story read interestingly enough. And the photos portrayed the very electric atmosphere I expected to surround the showdown. Still, I missed it. After all, no-look, behind-the-back dishes that ignite an audience read as no more than assists in a box score.

I’d missed it.

Or did I?

What was this?

There, on my newly satellite-equipped screen – at 1 a.m. Thursday – was ABC’s coverage of that very game, replayed on ESPN. Tape delay allowed me to see Shaq shot-putting his turn-around jumpers into the front of the rim. I was able to watch the Kings celebrate their way down the floor after yet another fast-break score. And I was even afforded the sight of the Maloof brothers dancing in delight along celebrity row.

All of this was thanks to, would you believe, the generosity of my in-laws?

Ah, the gift that keeps on giving.


As soon as the first TV timeout faded to black, I was off and surfing to see what else Santa had brought me. A few clicks of the remote landed on ESPN Classic, which I caught just in time for one of the greatest moments in sports history.

There stood Kirk Gibson, off the bench and plugged in as a pinch-hitter, despite an injury that had shelved the star slugger from the starting lineup.

Runner on second, full-count, two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

Down by one run in Game I of the 1988 World Series, a gimpy Gibson stared down the Oakland A’s Dennis Eckersley. Though more swat than swing, Gibson’s cut cracked the ball into the right field bleachers.

“A way back, she is … gone!” declared Vin Scully, a classic in his own right, as fans across the land relived the frenzied celebration that enveloped Chavez Ravine one October night long ago.

Talk about having a gift.

Next up was the Las Vegas Bowl on ESPN2, which also aired as a live broadcast while I worked. I got not only a bowl game to watch, but one with a former Nevada County star taking its field.

I’m fairly certain that I wasn’t the only one around these parts cheering on UCLA linebacker – and former Nevada Union star – Spencer Havner that night. Once the Bruins appeared to be the big winners in Vegas (and from reading the AP story a few hours earlier, I was pretty sure they’d hold on), I was back to ESPN Classic, where I found none other than the 1985 NCAA men’s basketball national championship.

Villanova v. Georgetown.

Patrick Ewing and Rollie Massimino.

I must have been very good this year.

But enough about my good tidings.

Remember, it is far better to give than receive.

So perhaps I can give something to aid the reception of a sports fan less fortunate than I.

How about a pair of rabbit ears? – wigglin’ not included, of course.

Brian Hamilton is The Union sports editor. He can be reached via email at

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