By: Chad and Fish
2016 will find the United States wading through all the issues and electing a new President. So we at FantasyJAM thought we would get in on the act and through your votes, answer some of sports most pressing questions. In the month of January you voted to find out which was the greatest Super Bowl of all time, now it’s time to find out who you think the best announcer of all time is.
We have broken it down into four regions, and each region will get a column dedicated to it to give you a little more information on the announcers in the region.
Since liking a certain announcer is purely a subjective thing, these announcers are not ranked in any way and the match-ups were made to make the best possible outcomes in each region.
Region number one is the Legends, these are the guys that transcend the industry. For the most part, they are no longer in the business, but they will always be remembered for who they are and how they plied their trade.
Our first match-up features a pair of guys who were teamed up with each other for years, and made football announcing what it is today. Those guys are Pat Summerall and John Madden.
Summerall spent 10 years in the NFL, mostly as a kicker before moving up to the booth. He was the syndicated host of “This week in Football” in the late 60’s and 70’s. Also in 1962, he was hired by CBS to be a color commentator and when CBS decided to stop putting certain announcing teams with certain NFL teams, he was put with Jack Buck.
But it wasn’t until 1981 when they paired Summerall with Madden that his career took off. They worked together for 22 years and became one of the most well-known partnerships in TV sportscasting history. His ability to play the quiet straight man to Madden’s larger than life personality really made this pairing work.
Summerall was also involved in broadcasts of the Masters, U.S. Open and even the NBA on CBS in 1975. It is that kind of versatility that made Summerall a legend.
Summerall may have been the polished one, but it was John Madden who brought life to announcing with a flamboyant style and loud delivery. It was a delivery that won him 14 Sports Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sports Event Analyst.
It was Madden, who, while working on Thanksgiving Games award a Turkey to players of the winning team, and brought the idea of a turducken to the nation at large.
In 1984, Madden took the advice of NFL coach John Robinson—a friend of Madden’s since elementary school—and created the “All-Madden” team, a group of players whom Madden thought represented football and played the game the way he thought it should be played.
Our next pairing of Legends pits Marv Albert against Jack Buck.
Albert became famous as the voice of the New York Knicks, and later on the NBA on NBC, calling every NBA Finals game from 1990 – 2002, except 1998-2000. Albert still calls the National games weekly on TNT and has done since 1999.
But Albert does more than just hoops, including calling every Super Bowl between 2002 – 2009 on Westwood One Radio.
He has one of those distinctive voices that as soon as you hear it, you know who it is.
Jack Buck on the other hand, was the voice of the St Louis Cardinals baseball team since 1954, doing such a good job he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Buck had the opportunity to call some of the biggest moments in baseball history, including Kirk Gibson’s home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series and Kirby Puckett’s home run in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series.
Buck also wrote a poem named For America that he read at the first Cardinals game after the 9/11 attacks to describe his opinion and the general opinion, regarding defeating terrorism, of Americans after September 11.
The third pairing is of two of the most imitated announcers in history, Howard Cosell and Harry Caray.
Cosell was the voice of sports in the 60’s and 70’s. Had it not been for Cosell, there probably wouldn’t be a Monday Night Football. He was a big champion of the event, and was the lead announcer when it was on ABC from 1970 until 1983, and made it frequently the #1 show in the Neilson Ratings. It was also Cosell that announced to the country that John Lennon had died.
Through his friendship with Muhammed Ali, Cosell was able to give people access to the boxer that we would not have had with anyone else.
While Cosell was famous for covering all sports, Harry Caray is best known as the voice for his beloved Cubs. While he also worked for both the Cardinals and White Sox, it was the Cubs and Superstation WGN that endeared him to the country.
Known for saying off the wall things, like spelling players names backwards and his unabashed homerism, it is Caray’s version of the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley (a tradition that is still around today, some 18 years after his death), that is the thing that everyone remembers.
With his trademark glasses and his unabashed love of Budweiser, he may not have been the epitome of a broadcaster, but he will never be forgotten.
Our final match-up is of two guys who are not only Legends, but are still calling baseball games for their respective teams, Dick Enberg and Vin Scully.
Enberg started his career in LA as a sports anchor on a local telecast before moving on to call some of the greatest college basketball games as the UCLA play-by-play man in the late 1960’s.
In 1975, Enberg joined NBC Sports. For the next 25 years, he broadcast a plethora of sports and events for NBC, including NFL, MLB, NBA, tennis and golf.
Since 2009 Enberg has been the play-by-play man for the San Diego Padres.
About 100 miles north of San Diego is Chavez Ravine, home to the LA Dodgers and their broadcaster, Vin Scully.
Scully has been with the Dodgers since their days in Brooklyn (he actually started with them in 1950), and holds the record for being the longest time any broadcaster has been with a single team in professional sports history, and he is second by one year to only Tommy Lasorda in terms of number of years with the Dodgers organization in any capacity.
While his lyrical style and dulcet voice has been with the Dodgers for so long, he also got his chops doing other sports as well. It was Scully who actually called “The Catch” (Montana to Clark) in the 1981 NFC Championship game for CBS.
He was also the voice for baseball on NBC in 1986 when Bill Buckner had the ball go through his legs in the World Series against the Mets.
Scully received the Ford Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, and was honored with a Life Achievement Emmy Award for sportscasting and induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1995.
On a personal note, I will say I have been lucky enough to enjoy Scully’s calls on my beloved Dodger games for the past 40 years.
So these are the eight Legends of Broadcasting that have been chosen, with all apologies to Tony Kubek, Chick Hearn and Harry Kalas, to see who is the greatest ever.
Voting will begin after the February 4th episode of FantasyJAM and be sure to tune in EVERY THURSDAY at 8p est (5p pst) on WBAD.NET/Rock to hear us give the results and debate the merits of each entry, and head over to Twitter (@SportsJAMChad & @thefish1969) or Facebook (facebook.com/Fantasy_JAM) to vote on your favorite. Miss us live no sweat, we are replayed on the Nuts And Bolts Sports Network, Friday’s at 7pm est.
Next up, Region 3 The Ex-Jocks.