When discussing a pivotal event that happened in the past, whether 5 minutes ago or 50 years ago, sportscasters often use the historical present tense. For example, after an error we might hear, "If he catches that ball, the inning is over." Or, "if Babe Ruth stays with Boston, the Yankees don't win all those pennants."
A similar usage seems to occur when discussing battles and wars: "If Stonewall Jackson survives, the South wins at Gettysburg."
Is there an explanation for this phenomenon of language?