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Frank, Sonny and Sam reunited



Sam Huff was asked on the radio what he misses most about Frank Herzog Monday morning.

"Nothing," Huff said.

"You had to ask a linebacker a serious question, didn't you?" Herzog cracked.

"He was The Voice," Huff said, turning serious and articulate. "Sonny and Sam, we were there to help him....You never over-talked the man with the microphone, and he was the man. It was always Frank....Frank Herzog and that group, the three of us, never walked on each other, so to speak, never over-talked each other. We were a team, and Frank was the leader of me and Sonny. And to be able to handle a quarterback and a linebacker all this time, you had to be somebody special. Frank Herzog is somebody special."

This was all part of WTOP's hour-long tribute to Herzog, who recently announced his retirement after a media career most famous for his stint as Voice of the Redskins. There were guest appearances galore, but the marquee segment featured Frank, Sonny and Sam together again, and it still worked. Those guys could split off to Mongolian villages and Alaskans fishing encampments and Texas rodeos, and reunite in 20 years for a middle school football game in Alabama, and it would still work.

"There were a lot of nights on the road that you would have liked to have been a part of; they were very special to us," Sonny said, adding with an audio twinkle.

"His wife [still] calls and wants to know where he is," Sam added.

"Would you get these two off before I get in any real trouble?" Frank requested.

"How about the time we were in California when Sonny and Rick Hunt didn't show up?" Sam said.

"Sam, I think you've been on long enough," Sonny insisted.

"How about the hurricane in Tampa?" Frank said, recalling how a hotel manager attempted to kick them out as the storm approached. "We said go to hell, we're sleeping here, and we slept on the floor."

"We also went to the kitchen and ate," Sam remembered.

"Ah," Frank sighed. "Those were the days."

Everyone can agree with that. Nostalgia is a beautiful thing. If there was something else everyone agreed upon, it was that the Riggo touchdown run against the Dolphins was the iconic call of Herzog's career; "there was only one highlight," as Huff put it. Herzog said what made it even better was the foreshadowing, with both Sonny and Sam saying a few minutes earlier that a moment was approaching where Riggo would have to take over, probably on third down.

WTOP played the call again, and as with the assembled trio's repartee, it couldn't have been more perfect: "He's gone...He's gone. He's gone. He's gone. Touchdown, Washington Redskins."

"Once again, it plays, and I don't get a dime," Herzog cracked.

"I get goosebumps if nothing else," said Riggo, who was also in studio. "That's better than the dime."

Herzog was asked to explain his "Touchdown, Washington Redskins!" call. (That link is the audio of his call.) He said he realized that Riggins doesn't score without Joe Jacoby blocking, without Otis Wansley being in the right spot.

"That was kind of born out of necessity," Herzog said. "In getting to know players and talking to people like John and the offensive linemen who helped make him a star, you began to realize that it wasn't just John Riggins scoring a touchdown, that was a team effort....So I said it's kind of a collective thing, let's call it a Washington Redskins touchdown, and it caught on."

That it did. Most of you have experience turning down the TV sound to listen to that trio, and Herzog has heard from you, as well. He said he once met a Skins fan who didn't realize Frank, Sonny and Sam weren't actually the TV sound until he was in college. Not the brightest chap, perhaps, but it makes the point.

Herzog said he still has his health, and it's time for him to move on and do other things with his life. He wants to act in more movies, to play more golf, to spoil his grandchildren and take photographs. And as he calls it quits, people will go through their Frank, Sonny and Sam stories yet again.

"And I think that's why people were so upset when it was broken up a couple years ago for whatever reason," Riggins said. "That [trio] is emblemized in everybody's mind for the rest of their lives, and that's pretty cool."

"We made this guy," Huff joked. "He called every play, Sonny and I knew what was coming before he even had to call it. I mean, that's the experience the three of us had. I mean, no one could call it better than Frank Herzog. He put excitement in an old linebacker and an old quarterback....That's what it's all about. The game's on the field, but he made it exciting. That experience, with the quarterback and the linebacker was just unbelievable, and to have a great announcer like Frank Herzog, it was a great combination."

"Well, he got where he understood, when we'd go into our verbiage, he'd know what we were talking about," Sonny said. "I mean, at the beginning he didn't, but he picked that up very quickly, because anybody who knows Frank knows that he was a quick study.....We did a lot of things together and had a lot of fun, and I always knew you weren't gonna be hung out to dry with Frank at the mic."

And so, retirement?

"It's natural, ok?" Sam advised. "I understand, but you were one of the greatest. So hang in there."

"Have fun, Frank," Sonny said.

"Great to hear your guys' voices again," Frank said as the segment ended.

Ditto.

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 22, 2010; 11:19 AM ET
Categories:  Media , Redskins  
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Comments

Sonny, Sam and Frank

Posted by: doubleuefwhy | March 22, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

If only the Redskins would do in the booth what they've done with the team: cut Larry Michael and bring in a free agent - Frank Herzog.

Posted by: innocentbystander | March 22, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Love this piece, Steinbog, thanks. Got me feeling all sentimental on a Monday morning.

The explanation of Herzog's signature touchdown call -- each touchdown being a result of team effort, so acknowledge the team, not the player -- is so elegant in its simplicity... one more on the list of a bazillion things to prefer about Frank relative to the current play-by-play guy.

Posted by: NateinthePDX | March 22, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I loathe Larry Michael. I remember where I was when I heard the news Larry was replacing Frank, and I thought to myself, "Really, the smarmy guy who does the post game show in the club level? This guy? THIS guy?" I didn't realize the backstory and his relationship with Snyder, nor did I realize how much I would come to loathe him, but all of that came in time.
Ugh...it is still remarkably hard to be a fan of this organization.

Posted by: dclance | March 22, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Dan, this takes me back to the days when most Skins fans turned the tv off so they wouldn't have to listen to some Ex-Cowboy, who knew nothing about the team stroke his ego on national tv. Sonny, Sam, and Frank were a fine wine drank slowly. Players told them things that they would never admit to other talking heads. And if you think Frank was good on Skins broadcasts, you should check out some of his work on the Bullets championship run in "78".

Posted by: JAMNEW | March 22, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Those guys were great in their time and I do miss Frank. I do wish that they would replace Sonny and Sam. Especially Sam and everything being negative. I listen to them on Sirius during the game and actually turned them down and listen to the TV broadcast. Dan bring in some new blood from the 80s team.......

Posted by: skinsfaninWI | March 22, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

I have to say that I honestly never even thought about the "Touchdown, Washington Redskins" thing, because it was all I heard growing up. I never noticed it.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | March 22, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Good luck Frank.
Now lets not mention Larry on a feel good post.

Posted by: alex35332 | March 22, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

One would think that WTOP would have run extensive ads about that show. That way, people may have actually known it was on and listened.

Posted by: poguesmahone | March 22, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I think it would be great if 980 had two radio feeds per game. First choice would be tuning into a new play-by-play/analyst combo that can actually present the correct information to fans.

The second channel would be alternate commentary from Sonny, Sam and Frank watching from recliners with Larry Michael serving them Scotch and cigars in a waiters outfit - and nowhere near the mic.

Posted by: Kev29 | March 22, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Firing the voice of the Redskins, and replacing him with with a talentless Owner's boy was a horrible, yet typical ego driven move by the worst owner in sports.

I miss Frank, and wish him well in retirement. Those were the days

Posted by: terp4303 | March 22, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The replacement of Frank Herzog was emblematic of Dan Snyder's destruction of a beloved institution -- the Washington Redskins.

Ten bucks to watch training camp...remember that?

Ending bus service from the Metro so that people would have to pay $30 to park...remember that?

A constant barrage of advertisements blaring over the loudspeaker at games...remember that?

"'Touchdown, Washington Redskins' has become 'Fumble, Greedy Snyder!'"

Posted by: InTheMiddle | March 22, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I grew up watching AND listening to Frank Herzog. While he made his name with "Touchdown, Washington Redskins," he also had a VERY famous call when the Bullets won their only NBA Championship. After the Bullets scored on a fast break that sealed Game 7 and the championship, Frank Herzog exclaimed, "Cue the Fat Lady, cue the Fat Lady!" I have many fond memories of his voice and while I still turn down the sound to Skins games to hear the radio broadcast, it just isn't the same without him. God bless you, Mr. Herzog, and thank you for all you did!

Posted by: stwasm | March 22, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Too bad these guys are not still doing Redskin games I would turn the volume on the tv down and tune into Frank,Sonny and Sam broadcast.
They as the saying goes told it like it was.

Posted by: frankbarranco | March 22, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

I was one that ALWAYS turned down the TV volume and listened to Sonny, Sam and Frank. But when Larry Michael became part of the group, that quickly changed. I always wondered what game he was calling as it did not sound like the one I was watching. The only time I find myself listening now is when I cannot find a TV to be in front of. The trio was a great group.

Posted by: foreSkins | March 22, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

the best there ever was....the best there ever will be...sonny, sam and frank

Posted by: outrbnksm | March 22, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Larry Michael is a shill for the organization. He doesn't provide any commentary or human interest stories like Frank did to keep folks interested.

He's only in that booth because Snyder required it to be so.

Sonny and Sam do their best to ignore him.

So, do the rest of us.

Perhaps he will say something that rubs Shanahan the wrong way and we can get rid of him.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 22, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I stopped listening to the radio broadcast when Frank was pushed out. Best of luck to him in retirement

Posted by: mack1 | March 22, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Great stuff, Bog.

If only we could get Frank to call Reggie Roby "Rick Robey" one last time, for old time's sake.

Posted by: BabeLaufenberg | March 22, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

It was a shame when Frank Herzog was fired as the voice of the Redskins. We always turned down the TV and listened to the radio. Eveb after cable was behind the radio we would disconnect the cable and got to the antenna so we could hear Frank, Sonny And Sam.
NOW We never listen to the radio any more. larry michael is a joke. He has destroyed the reparte between the trio of the past. I know you can never go home again. No more Frank. We will never accept larry as his replacement.

Posted by: jonmhill1 | March 22, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Redskins radio broadcasts used to be the best - now they are unlistenable (is that a word?) with Larry at the helm.

We went from "Touchdown, Washington Redskins!!!" to "He's gonna go." Seriously?

Posted by: Section104 | March 22, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Come back Frank!! Larry is so boring is excruciating and makes people suicidal when he talks :-(

Posted by: riceldi | March 22, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Good luck Frank.
Now lets not mention Larry on a feel good post.

Posted by: alex35332

haha...let's face it, it makes die hard Skins fans feel good to share our true feelings about Larry

Posted by: cpd3s | March 22, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Frank for all the memories. Frank Herzog's voice is more or less the soundtrack of my childhood. I still get goosebumps as well whenever I hear that Riggo touchdown call.

Posted by: PDiddy | March 22, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

'For whatever reason'??

We know why they were broken up: The midget king, o' yee of bad karma inserted his marblemouthed mouthpiece and further splashed his bad dna on this franchise.

In all his efforts to outdo The Squire, the danny has failed and failed and continues to fail. Instead of trying to erase/replace Skins history, this idiot should have tried to add to it.

But it takes a big man...enough said

Posted by: kahlua87 | March 22, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

As others have added, Herzog's call of the Bullets' '78 World Championship was a thing of beauty. In typical Steinberg style, he's all Skins all the time, so unless readers wade through the comments section, they'll never know that Herzog called the FIRST World Championship in the modern era.

Posted by: swinging4thefence | March 22, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

My favorite memory of Frank Herzog was one year when there was an accident on the Kenilworth Avenue approach to RFK Stadium and the traffic was not moving and we were getting closer and closer to game time. I was watching the East Capitol Bridge approach when I saw this guy who had left his car with his briefcase and was almost running. It was Frank and he was late for the game.

Posted by: billdemps | March 22, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Sonn, Sam and Frank will always be the voice of the Washington Redskins as long as that Asshat Larry Michael is anywhere near the broadcast booth.

The only thing that Larry Michael tounge excels at is not calling games, but licking Dan $nyder's cornhole clean after each messy post Johnny Rocket's bowel movement.

Posted by: VeloStrummer | March 22, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

congratulations, velostrummer.
that may be the most inappropriate comment ever posted on here.

Posted by: Bengt-Ake | March 22, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

dan can you please do a follow up segment on how most redskins fans are not pleased with larry michael? if you read sonny and sam's words closely, i think they took him some serious shots at their co-worker for not having good chemistry with them and being a bad play-caller, this is a very serious issue to redskins most long-time redskins fans

Posted by: destewar | March 22, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Frank Herzog is a DC sports institution. I remember him calling the Bullets in the '70's and doing Redskins Sidelines on channel 9. His play-by-play of the Redskins is sorely missed.

Posted by: garrafa10 | March 22, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Good Luck Frank. I too stopped listening to a Redskin game on the radio because Larry Michael is HORRIBLE, although I miss Sam and Sonny. This and not ever attending any games are the only things I can do to show my displeasure with the team I've followed for 50 years. Larry Michael and other changes are the reason I went from diehard Skins fan to "mildly interested". I still really don't understand why the owner wanted to fire Frank and hire Michael, there must be some logic there unless it's personal

Posted by: kenny10 | March 22, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Like so many others have said, Sonny, Sam, & Frank were the best. No doubt about it.

And like everyone else in Redskin Nation, I turned the TV volume down and the radio up to listen to this trio. Simply the Best!!!

Frank, enjoy retirement, we will miss you, but you will not be forgotten.

Posted by: jag523 | March 22, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Frank Herzog, if you ever read this, I am now a 46 year old man, you still recalls hooking up the radio outside to listen to you while I shot BBall.

How many times have I in my own mind, found myself saying silently, "Touchdown, Washington Redskins!"

Following getting married my wife was astounded that I would actually turn down the TV and rather listen to you Sonny and Sam, than the TV crew. She previously had never heard of anyone doing this...

Then I moved from DC area [career move] and found I could still pick up the signal from SBT 1110 Charlotte, NC. I was in Hog Heaven!!! I listened to each evening game, and once the time changed in late Oct. all the 4 PM games now became ones I could hear as well.

You don't have any idea how much even as man at 30 years old, I was glued to that Radio during the great Gibbs years listening to Frank Herzog do play by play.

Thanks for your contribution; thanks for bringing us both good news and bad regarding our Skins. Most of all, thanks for being good at what you did, permitting us to enjoy even more the broadcasts.

Oh, if I could hear one more time,
"Touchdown, Washington Redskins!"

Posted by: RedskinRay1 | March 23, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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