Who Are The Unsung Greats Of Broadcasting?

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On last night's Furious Five we took the sad opportunity of Harry the K's passing to discuss those announcers that have survived them. Rob asked if he was the last of the greats. To this I quickly said no because the All-Time Best (IMO), Vin Scully, is still with us and still doing games out in Los Angeles. But as the conversation turned to whether or not that Scully/Kalas/Buck/Allen/Harwell "gravitas" will pass when the last of them does was far more interesting.

Obviously styles have changed, as they do in any industry that has been around for nearly 100 years. We talked about the Remy/Orsillo team here in Boston. They may be more beloved by their fanbase than any other team out there but for the most part they're tremendous goofballs. I'm just fine with that because well, you've read my writing. But I'm hard pressed to assign "greatness" to any announcers whose most famous call involved a thrown slice of pizza.

Lloyd brought up Jerry Howarth, the Blue Jays radio play by play guy coming up on his 30th year in the booth. I haven't heard Howarth even though, and I'm a little embarassed to admit this, I still cruise around the AM dial at night as I'm going to bed trying to pick up the broadcasts from New York, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis, etc. That makes me sound like I ride to the feed store on a John Deere when I wake up at 4 AM, but screw it. It's fun.

Rob didn't get to say much because he has to listen to Sterling and Waldman.

Like they knew I was writing this, Ernie Harwell is a guest on the Dan Patrick Show right now talking about Harry and Mark Fidrych who also passed yesterday. They just had Harwell pretend he was calling an at bat with Fidrych on the mound. That was really really good.

In any case, the point of this post is for you to tell us who we're missing. Who's good on radio/tv that doesn't get their due? Leave it in the comments, or if you're the shy type, email us. WHO ARE BASEBALL FANS SLEEPIN ON?


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27 Comments

I know I sound like a broken record, but Jim Kaat is still one of the best. Easy to listen to with a an unmatchable knowledge of the game. Too bad he doesn't do games on the reg anymore, but he will be doing some of the Yankee home opener this Thursday..

Waldman and Sterling = the absolute fucking worse.

I like Waldman and Sterling, despite the fact that every time Sterling drops a casual pop culture reference, it's a fifty-year-old show tune. He's a narrow-minded old coot, but he's OUR narrow-minded old coot.

*worst, not worse dummy.

Another good point brought up on Dan Patrick while Charles Barkley of all people, was the guest.

The old guys' style came from the fact that they were trained to be radio announcers. Totally different animal. If a guy does radio anymore, it's only because he's waiting to get a TV Job.

So maybe this elusive "style" we keep talking about really is passing for good. Sad.

Also, every radio guy by definition is a biased homer, but Ron Santo takes that whole schtick to an entirely different level when he groans and sighs at the Cubs inability to play smart baseball.

I'm a Dodger fan, so my opinion goes without saying. But having spent some years in Seattle, I think Dave Niehaus deserves some love. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think he's the only Mariner in the Hall of Fame. My, oh my!

Jon Miller was one of the best when he did Orioles games from 82-97ish. He also deserves some sort of broadcasting Purple Heart for having to work with he-who-should-be-fired.

We have John Rooney/Mike Shannon in St. Louis. I like Rooney a lot because he is a talented "old school" guy. He's no Jack Buck obviously, but he isn't bad. Unlike many other Cardinal fans, I am not a fan of Shannon's. For a longtime broadcaster, he sometimes forgets that he isn't the show.

Wayne Hagin was hired following Jack's death. He is boring as crap and insinuated Todd Helton used steroids. I think he does Mets broadcasts now.

Bob Carpenter is a good TV play-by-play man. He is with a minor league club now known as the Washington Nationals.

I hereby nominate Steve Stone as one of the new greats. He basically called the game himself when paired with Harry, at least after the Cub Fan was into full-on Bud Man stupor. His knowledge of the game and strategy is unparalleled, and he presents it in a refreshingly non-homer way...which is exactly why he is no longer in the employ of Tribune Co.

We are bias, but Howarth and Alan Ashby are phenomenal on the AM dial in Toronto.

@Rob: Santo's not so much a broadcaster as a fan in the booth. His partner, Pat Hughes is one of the best - and he has to be to cover for Ron's hysterics.

I like listening to Bob Uecker. I just saw him doing a game that Fydrich pitched against the Yankees on the MLB channel the other day. I think that was in '76, so Ueck's been doing it a long time now.

Having had XM Radio and their baseball package, I've been exposed to a lot of shitty radio guys. One dude, however, makes me glad to be alive and that's Bob Uecker. He makes any Brewers game feel like it's supposed to feel: like a pleasurable diversion from your every day monotony, regardless of how the Crew is playing.

He is my favorite current radio guy.

@Freetzy: Definitely agree on Stone. I've said many times before that he taught me way more about the game than any coach I ever had.

I third the props for Uecker.

When I lived in North jersey, I used to listen to Sterling and Charlie Steiner on the drive home from work, and that was actually pretty good. I like Charlie Steiner a whole lot, actually, I think whatever he does is usually above par. He has that radio tone to his voice, as well. It's like talking baseball with your uncle.

Part of the problem nowadays is that a lot of younger baseball announcers are trained with that "national" mentality that so often pervades the local news scene. If you remain neutral and "dialect-less," you can work anywhere. It's perhaps a necessary survival tactic, but one that doesn't necessarily lend to ingratiating yourself with a loyal regional fan base.

Dave Niehaus is one of the long-timers, and Seattle fans love him. He's definitely lost his fastball, but he still does a competent job and he has a genuine warmth that's nice on a nondescript summer evening.

Vin Scully is beyond awesome. I look forward to the Extra Innings free preview every spring, mainly so I can soak in some Saint Vincent. He is an absolute master.

Bob Uecker is the man. I saw him lead "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" in Wrigley Field a few years ago. Cubs fans gave him a nice ovation, even despite the fact that the Brewers were winning pretty handily at the time. Very cool.

For a while, I wondered why people raved about Vin Scully so much... then I caught part of a Dodgers home broadcast on mlb.tv and very quickly understood. Incredible.

In terms of unsung greats (unsung in this case because he's overshadowed by the utter stupidity in the booth with him): Jon Miller is the bright spot in the ESPN Sunday night games.

@Ed,
But they booed when Lynn Belvedere called it "Wrigley Stadium" and dedicated the song to Wesley T. Owens.

The only reference I have for Waldman is the "Goodness gracious, ROGER CLEMENS" call. What a banshee.

@freetzy,

Well, of course. They'll boo anybody who calls that place "Wrigley Stadium". Just ask Jeff Gordon.

@Gorge: I was so lucky the Padres played the Dodgers the first week, during the free preview. I hadn't heard Vin Scully since I was little. It's like another world. So good.

Also, since I don't listen to much radio and can't afford the package, I think the SNY guys are a quality booth. Gary Cohen does a good job of balancing Keith and Ronny.

The best ever was Bill King and there is no argument.

What of Milo Hamilton? The man used to broadcast the St Louis Browns for God's sake!

Milo loses points for being a dickhead.

Don Orsillo, as I have mentioned to Kris, is one of my favorites. Gary Cohen and Dan Shulman (though I prefer Shulman doing basketball) are both great. Jon Miller is the man.

As far as unsung? I like Denny Matthews. I got into him when I would watch White Sox games on MLB.tv and noticed I didn't have to mute Hawk Harrelson.

The Yanks give the option of Sterling Waldman or Kaye/Whomever has to listen to him ask asinine questions.

I wouldn't be able to fall asleep if not for the soothing words of Dave Van Horne, circa Nos Amours.

This was before the drinking, of course.

I guess Matt_T hasn't stopped by yet but some love must be given up for Skip Caray.

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