Toppled Trombonist, Cal Runner Talk 30 Years After 'The Play'

A Stanford trombonist and Cal football player – two people virtually immortalized by the famous, chaotic, astonishing end of the 1982 Big Game – talked 30 years later to the Daily Cal about their peculiar fame and roles in the "The Play."

You don't have to be a serious fan of Cal or Stanford football to know about "The Play" – possibly the most unbelievable and dramatic end of a college football game ever seen.

Quite a few Stanford fans still don't believe it.

The Play is making headlines again this year, especially for the Big Game today, Oct. 20, since it's the 30th anniversary of the most famous climax in the longstanding UC Berkeley-Stanford football rivalry.

It was the Big Game of 1982, and Cal was behind 19-20 with but four seconds to go in the game. Stanford kicked off, a squib kick, to prevent Cal from having a deep running start on the return.

Cal player Kevin Moen grabbed it as a swarm of determined Stanford tacklers converged on him. Sure of victory, members of the Stanford Marching Band had already begun to move onto the field from the end zone.

But wait. Moen lateraled to another player, who, about to be tackled, lateraled to to another teammate. Before the play was over, in just a few blinks of the eye, there were five laterals, the last one a blind toss up amid a confusing mass of players and band members that Moen grabbed for the dash through the throng at the end of the field.

As Moen entered the end zone for the winning touchdown, he crashed into a Stanford trombone player, Gary Tyrrell, sending him sprawling.

It was a split-second collision that has given both men a peculiar kind of fame. The Daily Californian, Cal's student newspaper, decided to track both men down and interview them for a special edition, The 30th Anniversary of the Big Play, published in cooperation with the Stanford Daily for this year's Big Game. 

"When I'm introduced to someone new," Tyrrell told the Daily Cal," and the person doing the introducing says I was the trombone player in The Play, there's a recognition all around the world."

Moen told the paper that he, and many others on the field at the time, weren't quite sure what had happened amid the closing chaos.

"No one fully understood who scored or how we scored," he said.

Both Tyrrell, who lives in Half Moon Bay and is chief financial officer for a venture capital firm, and Moen, who is director of the estates division for Coldwell Banker in Palos Verdes, said they have probably watched a replay of The Play hundreds of times, the Daily Cal said.

The full articles about Tyrrell and Moen are accessible on the Daily Cal website.

The final call of The Play by announcer Joe Starkey also has become legendary, with Moen saying that it "always brings a smile to my face."

Starkey, also interviewed by Daily Cal, rapidly grows excited as his call quickly swells into an emotionally fueled, nearly shouting series of exclamations of pure astonishment.

"The band is out on the field. He's going to go into the end zone!...

"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!"


You can see The Play and hear Starkey's final call on the accompanying video.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »