This will have a heavy slant towards older announcers, and that should be understandable because not every game used to be televised. Your home teams radio announcers became a part of your extended family when you were a kid. These men could bring the game alive and make you feel like you were actually there watching the game.
If this list ranked the most influential announcers in baseball history, Costas would be much higher on it. He was a legitimate public candidate for MLB commissioner some years back.
Costas is widely considered the greatest studio host in sports history, evidenced by his 6 Emmy Awards. Although he hasn’t called many games on television other than MLB Network in the last ten years, Costas still holds an important place within the game.
Bob Uecker: the Greatest Entertainer in Baseball History?
Uecker parlayed his six-year stint as a journeyman major leaguer into an impressive Hall of Fame career in broadcasting and entertainment.
Uecker was a staple on the talk-show circuit, often joining Johnny Carson or David Letterman. He also earned himself a place as an iconic pitchman, creating some of sports advertising’s greatest commercials. Finally, Uecker achieved stardom through roles on the popular ’80s sitcom Mr. Belvedere and in “Major League” movies (yes, we all mimicked his “juuuust a bit outside”)
Rizzuto’s iconic “Holy cow” cry remains one of sports’ iconic catchphrases to this day. Throughout his 40-plus years in the Yankee booth, he collaborated with iconic figures like Mel Allen, Red Barber, Joe Garagiola, Jerry Coleman, Bobby Murcer, Jim Kaat and Tom Seaver – not to mention many others!
Caray began his baseball career in 1945 in St. Louis and continued behind the mic for the Cardinals and Browns for 25 years before moving on to Oakland and then Chicago. Caray even worked with the White Sox for over a decade before heading to the north side of town in 1981 to join the Cubs.
Caray’s presence on WGN, one of America’s most widely broadcast networks, allowed him to be heard and seen by millions across America, further cementing his position as one of baseball’s great voices.
Caray’s iconic seventh-inning stretch routine of leading the fans in “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” solidified him as an ambassador for baseball–a true fan of the game.
At the start of 2013, Joe Garagiola retired from broadcasting after 57 years in the booth. Since his departure from playing in 1954, Garagiola brought his unique personality and banter to television, frequently appearing on The Tonight Show and earning himself a co-hosting spot on The Today Show.
Garagiola was for years the leading national baseball voice for NBC, working as a play-by-play man and color analyst. After leaving NBC in 1988, he returned to calling games for the Angels and Diamondbacks.
Gowdy began his Major League Baseball career working under Mel Allen for several years with the Yankees before moving up to Boston and becoming their lead broadcaster in 1951 at age 31.
Gowdy spent nearly 15 years as a Boston radio announcer before being hired by NBC as their lead national announcer, covering both Major League Baseball and the National Football League’s AFC games. As head of broadcasting for NBC during the 1975 World Series, until being replaced by Joe Garagiola.
Gowdy made several iconic calls during his career, such as the one on Ted Williams’ final at-bat in 1960 when he hit a home run on his final swing. Additionally, Gowdy called Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in 1974.
Tony Kubek was a legendary voice in the broadcast booth for over three decades, calling games for both NBC and Toronto Blue Jays, but he’s best remembered for his collaborations with Bob Costas and Joe Garagiola on NBC as well as many other renowned broadcast partners.
Kubek called 11 World Series and 10 All-Star Games while at NBC, working there until their contract with Major League Baseball expired in 1994. He then joined the New York Yankees before leaving broadcasting during that same year’s work stoppage.
For two decades, Jon Miller was the undisputed voice of baseball for ESPN. Other play-by-play announcers over that time–Dan Shulman among them–could never match Miller’s charismatic charm and joyful personality.
Starting in 1997, Miller was the voice of his hometown San Francisco Giants, after 15 years with the Baltimore Orioles. Throughout his long career, Miller has called games for five MLB franchises.
Miller’s play-by-play narration is often lyric, bordering on poetic. His calls of players from Asia or Latin America often come with an affectionate nod to their heritage. Miller always uses perfect pronunciation and diction – making him a true character in the game. His commentary truly showcases Miller’s unique perspective.
Kalas started with the Houston Astros but was hired by the Phillies in 1971, replacing the ever-popular Bill Campbell. Paired primarily with Ashburn, they quickly became fan favorites and, over the years, much more than that.
When Ashburn passed away in 1997, a little bit of Harry was lost too. It was never quite the same in the booth for Kalas, and there was talk as the Phillies moved into a new stadium in 2004 that his time in the booth was running thin. But he stayed and was rewarded by getting the chance to call the final outs of the 2008 World Series.
Kalas died early the following season, and the Philadelphia sports scene has never been the same.
Red Barber is an iconic figure in broadcasting, having begun his major league announcing career with the Cincinnati Reds in 1934. Later he moved to Brooklyn and called Dodgers games until 1939 before switching to Yankee games across town in 1954. According to RadioHOF.org, “Barber had the distinction of broadcasting baseball’s first night game on May 24th 1935, in Cincinnati and its first televised contest on August 26th 1939.”
Mel Allen was one of the voices of baseball for nearly 50 years, first as the top play-by-play announcer and later as host of This Week in Baseball. With an incredible 50 years in the game under his belt, Allen was a legend!
Allen’s voice was instantly recognizable, and his cheerful demeanor won over fans across America. He began his announcing career in the late 1930s, working for both teams in New York – Yankees and Giants in the early ’40s.
Allen worked home and away games until 1964, when he was abruptly dismissed. After working with several teams around baseball for some time, Allen eventually returned to the Yankees in the late 1970s, remaining with them until their disbandment in mid-’80s.
Marty Brennaman has been the lead play-by-play announcer for the Cincinnati Reds since 1974, up until just a few years ago, and is one of a few broadcasting greats working with one major league franchise for so long. Marty lasted over 50 years in broadcasting. His work with sidekick Joe Nuxhall enthralled everybody that was a Reds fan for over thirty years. Marty and Joe on the radio was music to a young Reds fans ears.
Ernie Harwell is one of the few broadcasters more closely identified with one city than Detroit, his adopted home. But it took him twelve years in baseball before he finally made it there, starting in New York with the Dodgers and Giants before moving to Baltimore for five seasons during the 1950s.
Harwell served as the lead radio analyst for the Tigers from 1960 until 1991, much to the chagrin of team fans who didn’t want Harwell to leave. However, new ownership brought Harwell back after one year away. After another decade of hard work and devotion to Detroit sports journalism, Harwell retired at the end of the 2002 season.
While in Detroit, Harwell also worked national radio for NBC, CBS and ESPN, calling several All-Star Games and World Series.
Harwell was renowned for his conversational style in the booth, often engaging with viewers during games. Like many great announcers before him, he fostered an atmosphere of friendly conversation between himself and other fans.
Buck began calling St. Louis Cardinals games in 1954 with Harry Caray, Milo Hamilton and Joe Garagiola; he left after one year to work national games for ABC before returning two years later. Over eight years with Caray, Buck served as his main play-by-play man until Caray left St. Louis in 1976.
His most iconic call may have been Ozzie Smith’s walk-off home run in Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS, but some of Buck’s greatest moments in baseball came outside St. Louis or even outside baseball altogether. He called the 1981 NFL Championship Game with “The Catch,” Don Denkinger’s famous blown call in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series and Bill Buckner’s error in that 1986 Fall Classic match-up as well.
Buck famously called Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series, proclaiming, “I can’t believe what I just saw!” He also famously called Kirby Puckett’s walk-off homer in Game 6 of 1991’s World Series to make one of baseball’s most epic clinching games ever. Nearly 20 years later, Joe Buck borrowed his father’s famous phrase for calling David Freese’s walk-off homer during Game 6 of the 2011 Series.
Scully has had the longest tenure of any broadcaster with a single team in pro sports history, outlasting everybody in Major League Baseball. He is as synonymous with Dodger Blue as Koufax, Drysdale, Campanella, and Robinson are.
Scully has insisted on going it alone, serving as play-by-play announcer and color analyst for Dodgers telecasts until the end of his legendary career.
In addition to calling games for the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, Scully served as the lead announcer for CBS and NBC for many years, calling both baseball and NFL games.
He was present for some of American sports’ greatest moments, such as Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1956 and Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run and Bill Buckner’s mistake in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series – to name just a few. (With all these legendary announcers alternating TV and radio back then, one can imagine that press box conversations must have been legendary!)
If you enjoy hearing from the legends of pro sports, then be sure to tune into “The Grueling Truth” sports shows, “Where the legends speak”
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