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Legendary Cal football broadcaster Joe Starkey to retire after 48 seasons

PIX Now 11:29

BERKELEY – Legendary Cal football play-by-play announcer Joe Starkey, best known for his call of "The Play" during the 1982 Big Game between Cal and Stanford, will be retiring after 48 years in the broadcast booth, the university announced Thursday.

Starkey, 80, became the announcer for the Golden Bears in 1975. Since then, he has broadcasted 538 out of 545 Cal football contests.

"It has been an incredible privilege to have the best seat in the house to watch Cal football since 1975," Starkey said. "My first position in sportscasting was in 1972, and I have had some truly special assignments. But of all the places I have worked, the one constant has been Cal football."

Starkey was behind the microphone during one of most memorable events in college football history at the end of the 1982 Big Game, which has since become known as "The Play." During a last-second kickoff return, the Bears used five laterals and ran through the Stanford band to score the winning touchdown.

Cal Bears Football 82: The Play by UC Berkeley on YouTube

"Oh, the band is out on the field! He's gonna go into the end zone! He got into the end zone!" Starkey said during his memorable call, as Kevin Moen scored. "The Bears have won! The Bears have won! Oh, my God! The most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football!"

Longtime Bay Area sports fans will also remember Starkey as the play-by-play announcer for the San Francisco 49ers between 1987 and 2008, a run that included three Super Bowl championships and hall of famers Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young. Starkey has also announced California Golden Seals and San Jose Sharks hockey games.

The Golden Bears begin their 2022 season on September 3 with a matchup against UC Davis. Starkey's final season in the broadcast booth will include the 125th Big Game against Stanford on November 19, marking 40 years since his famous call.

Starkey's final game broadcasting from Memorial Stadium in Berkeley will be a matchup against UCLA on November 25.

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