Sports Illustrated put out this list of what it believes to be the Top 20 all-time sportscasters. Some of these guys are before my time, but unfortunately, most of them are not. Anyway, here is the list and a snappy comment or two, as well as who they missed and who I’m glad is not on here:
1. Jim McKay—The Bob Costas of his time. McKay hosted ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” as well as The Olympics. It’s hard to argue with putting him on top here, but it’s also easy to argue for a few of these others to be #1.
2. Vin Scully—If I hear ol’ Vin doing a game on TV, and with the MLB package it’s nice to still hear him doing Dodgers’ games, I don’t care who is playing….I stop and watch, and listen. It’s just comforting to hear the guy’s voice, which was made for broadcasting baseball.
3. Mel Allen—He did Yankees games before I was born, but I remember his distinctive voice as the host of “This Week in Baseball.”
4. Red Barber—Way before my time, but I’ve heard great things
5. Ernie Harwell—Even hearing his voice doing interviews before he passed away recently, you couldn’t not be engaged to listen.
6. Jack Buck—Loved hearing him do both baseball and football, and who can forget his call in the 1988 World Series when gimpy Kirk Gibson hit that home run against Dennis Eckersley? “I don’t believe what I just saw!”
7. Bob Costas—Many of you don’t like this guy, but he’s a pro and as knowledgeable as they come.
8. Curt Gowdy—Another voice from my childhood that is synonymous with baseball.
9. Howard Cosell—Who can forget Cosell doing “Monday Night Football” along with Frank Gifford and Dandy Don Meredith? The fact that Cosell was so annoying just added to his charm.
10. Keith Jackson—Even if you were never into college football, you had to tune in when Keith Jackson did a game. It was like religion. “Oh, Nelly!”
11. Harry Caray—I remember when we first got cable and had Cubs’ games on WGN. I was like, “who is this old dude doing the games?” But Harry was awesome, especially when trying to pronounce names he couldn’t pronounce.
12. Jack Brickhouse—Um, also before my time.
13. Al Michaels—He’s not my favorite announcer ever, but he’s not hard to listen to either. Michaels is smart and extremely professional, and his resume is enormous. His claim to fame was calling the “Miracle on Ice” in 1980.
14. Dick Enberg—“Oh My!” I still love hearing this guy do NFL games.
15. Marv Albert—Yeah, you can poke fun all you want about his extra-curricular, um, issues in 1997, but there is no better basketball announcer, and he was doing hockey games when I grew up in New York too. About as recognizable a voice as there is in sports. Hard to believe he’s almost 70!
16. Don Dunphy—This was a boxing guy from before my time
17. Jack Whitaker—Also covered many sports, probably before I was born
18. Chick Hearn—Was the voice of the Lakers for many years. I never heard him do a game, but heard how awesome he was.
19. Chris Schenkel—I remember watching PBA bowling on Saturdays with my grandpa, and this guy was the voice of that as well as several other sports. A true pro.
20. John Madden—There is/was no one better at color commentary, and to think he planned on stopping in the broadcast booth temporarily before he found another coaching job. But wait? He’s 20th? That is kind of bogus. Madden should be Top 10, easily.
Some guys they missed:
Joe Garagiola—I loved hearing him and Tony Kubek do NBC’s “Game of the Week” in baseball when I was a kid.
Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner—This trio was the soundtrack to my youth watching the Mets.
Phil Rizzuto—Holy cow! Phil isn’t on this list?
Gary Thorn and Mike Emrick—Two of the best I’ve ever heard do hockey games.
Jim Nantz—This guy just excels at football, basketball and golf
Gary Cohen—Did Mets radio for many years and is now the voice of SNY for the Mets. This guy is a walking Mets encyclopedia, and I know many of you don’t know who he is, but he’s remarkable as both an announcer and historian.
Bob Papa—Sorry to be the homer here, but this Giants’ radio play-by-play guy now does the Thursday night NFL games, so you all get to here how great he is.
And who I’m glad they did miss:
Joe Buck—I just don’t see what the appeal is. I loved listening to his dad, but this guy just grates on my nerves. He’s smart and witty, but he’s more annoying than entertaining. He’s like the Ryan Seacrest of sports.
Gus Johnson—There is a reason he does the D-list NFL games on CBS—he’s hyper to a fault. Sometimes it’s funny, but mostly it grates on my nerves.
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