After that, anytime there was a significant event that happened, ‘Yeah, baby’ would be mentioned. - Peter Maher
CALGARY, AB -- It was born in late April some 28 years ago and spawned from a song no less, but it’s become one of the greatest lines in hockey.
With the Calgary Flames slated to square off against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6 of the second round of the 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs, legendary broadcaster Peter Maher went about his business as he would any other day.
And when he wrapped up his morning duties at the game-day skate, he did what most would on the drive home -- turned on the radio.
“When I was driving home I was listening on the radio and we had music stations, no sports stations, news stations or anything like that in those days,” Maher started, “and there was a song playing there and the refrain saying out ‘Yeah, baby’ and I made a mental note of that and I said, ‘if the Flames win tonight, maybe I’ll use that’.”
But they didn’t.
“Well, Flames lost that night,” Maher recounted. “My memory stayed pretty good because two nights later in Game 7 after that faceoff just to the left of Mike Vernon, Mark Messier on the draw for the Oilers, Joel Otto for the Flames, and the shot missing giving the Flames a 3-2 victory clinching the series. That was the first ‘Yeah, baby’.
“After that, anytime there was a significant event that happened, ‘Yeah, baby’ would be mentioned.”
From Stanley Cup runs to 50-goal seasons to milestone markers to Olympic gold medal clinchers, Maher made sure the call wouldn’t lose its luster.
Through his string of 3,162 straight regular-season and playoff games spanning five decades (and 34 seasons with the Flames specifically), the Hall-of-Famer picked his spots in shouting out the line that will forever be associated with the recently retired icon.
“I had people often say to me we’d like you to use ‘Yeah, Baby’ more,” he admitted. “I said no, it has to be something important, something significant.
“For a while there, it kind of went into mothballs but my memory bank stayed there and when Jarome Iginla came along and started scoring 50 goals and the Flames started generating things, winning and that great run in 2004.
“It seemed to get a new life because then there was sports stations and the replays of these events were played constantly.”
Now, ‘Yeah, baby’ will live on as the iconic call of the voice forever synonymous with the Flames.