Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Voices of Sports

Inevitably when I watch a sporting event a few things happen. I sit there and try to dissect what each team and the players are doing. 2-2 count with a runner on first base and one out…the runner is probably going – the catcher should call for a fastball to get a chance to nail him trying to steal. 18 seconds left and one time out remaining and the offense is on the 30 yard line with 2nd down. Run a quick pass, if it’s incomplete you have 3rd down and the clock is stopped, if you hit for eleven yards you call time out and kick the game winning field goal. That’s how my mind works. But one other thing that I’ve always thought much about since I was a kid was the announcers. A good announcer can make a sporting event for the viewers. If a play-by-play announcer is boring or doesn’t know the delicate details of the sport than he loses interest in many viewers. There’s a fine line between an average announcer and a great one…Here are my top ten best sports announcers still around today.

#10 Jim Lampley
Bar none the best boxing commentator in the business. I can’t remember watching a big boxing match without hearing Jim Lampley’s voice calling the action inside the squared circle. His voice is great and his intelligence of the sport is even better. Little known fact is that Lampley has been doing sports broadcasting since the early 70s.

#9 Pat Summerall
I had to put Summerall on this list…he’s one of my favorite football voices. I remember growing up and how excited I was to hear this every Sunday during football season, “Hello everyone this Pat Summerall along with John Madden.” His voice, perfect. He knew exactly when to stop giving the play-by-play and let his color man (mostly John Madden) jump in with his own commentary. He’s an NFL legendary announcer.

#8 Mike Patrick
It’s hard to find a better voice for college basketball. All of those Duke-UNC games or Indiana-Michigan games that I grew up watching…and Mike Patrick was behind the microphone for ESPN. He has teamed for years with Dick Vitale and always lent his wisdom as well as his excitement to the already excitable Vitale. Patrick also is a great football voice, working for as long as I can remember as the lead for Sunday Night Game of the Week.

#7 Vin Scully
“Little roller up along first – Behind the BAG! It Gets THROUGH BUCKNER…HERE COMES KNIGHT AND THE METS WIN IT!!!” That one sentence will forever ring through my ears. It makes me smile every time I think about Vin Scully yelling it into his microphone on that cold October night in 1986. He had already been an accomplished baseball voice at that point, and continues to call great games. This longtime Dodger announcer stayed faithful to the team when they moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958 and has remained their announcer.

#6 Joe Buck
Some people don’t like Joe Buck – I think he’s great. His deep voice and precise call of the game make him one of the best in the business. I’ve heard his Hall of Fame father call baseball games before he died and thought he was very good…but the younger Buck blows his dad away. Fox Sports made a brilliant move when they got Joe Buck to do both Major League Baseball and the NFL. The best part about Joe Buck is his age – we’ve got a lot more of him to hear.

#5 Marv Albert
People can say what they want about what Marv Albert did almost a decade ago with that woman…I’m not really interested in that, that’s his business. All I care about is that Albert is the best NBA announcer that I’ve ever listened to. He started out as the main man for the New York Knicks and then moved on to do all of the Nationally televised games across the country. Who in this era will ever forget Albert saying, “YES!” on a big basket or the famous, “A spectacular move by Michael Jordan!” He’s at the top of his ranks – and in terms of basketball there’s nobody better.

#4 Keith Jackson
"Whoa Nelly!" Keith Jackson has been known for covering college football on ABC for over 30 years. I remember watching the game back in the late 90s when he said he would be retiring…and his college partner Bob Griese said, “College football will never be the same.” Well sure enough, Jackson was back the next season and is still doing his thing. He’s awesome and watching a college football game that he does is a tremendous experience.

#3 Gary Thorne
“Hello everybody I’m Gary Thorne…” Wow, what a delight to have grown up as a kid a watching the New York Mets and New York Rangers and getting the opportunity to listen to a master. His voice so defining and perfect to listen to. Being a hockey announcer he needed to learn the great skill of being very exact with every call…his baseball announcing was made that much better because of that talent. He’s been the main voice of the NHL for years and still does quite a few Major League Baseball games on ESPN. A true great that many times is over-looked…but not here.

#2 Jon Miller
Over the last few decades no other baseball announcer has taken the game to higher levels. Jon Miller and his partner, Hall of Fame second baseman, Joe Morgan have been together for fifteen years as the dynamic duo of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Miller’s baritone voice is so recognizable around baseball that many video games nowadays use him as the voice for the game. You can hear the passion for the sport in his voice and his knowledge is second to none.

#1 Al Michaels
“Five seconds left…Do you believe in MIRACELS – YESSS!” That was the start of Al Michaels legendary broadcasting career at the 1980 Winter Olympics but what has followed is even greater. To date, Michaels is the only play-by-play announcer to cover the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals and the Olympics.
Since1986 Michaels has been the lead anchor of ABC’s Monday Night Football. I’ll never forget sitting down to watch Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants when Michaels said, "I'll tell you what, I think we're having an earth--!" Audio was restored minutes later and Michaels started off by trying to make light of the chaotic situation by quipping that it was "the greatest open in the history of television, bar none!"
He’s smart, energetic and the best sports announcer of our time. A true legend of the mic.


At 7/26/2005 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

u r my favorite announcer........ especially when (in your announcer immitation voice): "its Toad around the corner first, down the stretch they come, neck and neck with Yosh-Face-Killah, DK tosses a banana, Toad saves the spin out and takes the Gold Cup to win the circuit! Schmidty and Lucas are LOW again, Willis is still on lap 1 drooling while staring at the wrong screen...on to the next circuit where Schmidt and Lucas have split 2nd and 3rd even over the last 20 races.".....
cough, cough, "i can't wait till thanksgiving either"

At 7/26/2005 4:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

not a bad list. i didn't even know who Gary Thorn was - but i guess i'll take your word it.

i think i would've swaped Marv Albert and Jon Miller.

At 7/27/2005 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please put Merrill Reese at the top of your list - if you've ever heard him you'd recognize that he's the best there is. Where is Harry Callis (voice of the Phillies and NFL Sports - "The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field")?Joe Buck is a sizzler - remember when he said "That's disgusting!" when Randy Moss fake mooned after a TD - he's sause and I'd like to give him a wedgie. I also hate Al Michaels - you can tell he's a fake jerk who takes himself way too seriously. ftr: He was absolutely horrible doing NBA games this year - at one point I believed he called a three-pointer "a goal". At least you didn't put Jim Nantz on the list - he's the worst. Good list though. Marv Albert rocks!!! Gary Thorn is incredible - I get chills at the beginning of hockey on ESPN when he starts broadcasting; right before I change the channel because hockey is for canucks and hosers.


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