Before we get to the list, here is a group of announcers who certainly deserved consideration. This list is presented in alphabetical order, not in any semblance of a ranking. Several members of this group have been awarded the Ford C. Frick Award by the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Frick Award is given each year to a broadcaster for "major contributions to baseball." Here is the list, in full.
Anderson, at 42, is one of the youngest announcers on this list, but certainly deserves consideration after developing a national voice in the game over the last six years. Anderson has worked with the Brewers since 2007, and just one year after he got his start in the major leagues, he found himself as part of the TBS national crew. Now a mainstay in the Turner stables, Anderson's professional, stoic style allows his analysts, and the game itself, to be the star.
Someone is already going to look at a list of 25 names and see that Skip Caray isn't one of them and probably decide to stop reading right now. The son of Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray and the father of Braves announcer Chip Caray, Skip is part of one of the great families in broadcasting.
Caray worked for the Atlanta Braves for more than 30 years, sharing his wit, humor and homerism with fans across America as part of the Braves' national television deal. Place him on your list where you feel he best deserves to be.
Castiglione is part of the fantastic Boston Red Sox set of announcers, which includes Don Orsillo, Dave O'Brien and, until recently, Jerry Remy. Each unique in their own way, it is Castiglione's 30 years calling games for the Sox that sets him apart.
Coleman was a player for the New York Yankees in the 1940s and '50s, earning Rookie of the Year honors in 1949 and helping New York to reach six World Series, including four championships in the '50s. Oh, and he is the only major leaguer to see combat in two wars.
None of that, however, explains why he's on this list. Coleman got into broadcasting in 1960, working both radio and television for more than 50 years. He was a 2005 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007.
Enberg is one of our country's great general sports announcers. He was ranked as one of the top college football and NFL announcers on each of our respective lists for those sports, and he would surely crack the list of other sports like tennis or the Olympic Games.
Enberg worked California Angels games in the late 1960s before reaching national acclaim. When he moved to NBC in the '70s, he continued to call Major League Baseball games and had plans to become the Peacock's lead baseball voice in the '80s before the network hired Vin Scully to anchor its coverage. Enberg did just fine for himself in other sports.
In 2009, Enberg took a step back from the national spotlight to return to baseball, calling games for the San Diego Padres.
Harrelson has become one of the most polarizing announcers in the game, most notably for his recent tête-à-tête with MLB Network's Brian Kenny over the value of sabermetrics and what Harrelson called "TWTW: The Will To Win."
A former player, Harrelson has been a broadcaster for nearly 40 years, mostly calling games in his signature style for the Chicago White Sox. If we were doing a ranking of the biggest homers in baseball, Harrelson may top the list. For this, he’s an honorable mention.
From Jeff Passan, one of the leading baseball scribes at Yahoo! Sports:
I love Tom Hamilton. Part of it is that I grew up in Cleveland. More than that is the balance he strikes during his calls. He is measured, intelligent and tonally appropriate. His voice always equals the moment. Which is what made that Jason Giambi call so spectacular. Next to "The river's on fire," the four greatest words to come out of Cleveland in the last century are: "Swing and a drive!" I never thought a fragment could be so powerful. Hamilton then sprays on the whipped cream: "To deep (direction of the home run)" ... drizzles some caramel: "A-waaaaaaaaay back!" ... and plops the cherry: "Gone!" If that wasn't perfect enough, he dropped the "Mardi Gras in September in Cleveland," and it was over. I've covered baseball for 10 years now. I've never heard a better call.
Ernie Johnson Sr.
While those of us in the Turner family (Turner is the parent company of Bleacher Report) have the esteemed pleasure of calling Ernie Johnson Jr. a colleague, it's his father who certainly warrants inclusion on this list.
A pitcher in the 1950s for the Braves of Boston and Milwaukee, Johnson became an iconic broadcaster for the team in Atlanta, calling games on TV and radio from 1962-1999. The Turner Field broadcast booth is named after the elder Johnson. His legacy, even after his passing in 2011, is still going strong.
Kiner could certainly be on the list of 25, but we will have more on the rest of the Mets' announcing crew later, I promise.
A six-time All-Star and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame as a player, Kiner entered the broadcasting business in the early 1960s and joined Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy in the inaugural season of the New York Mets in 1962. Kiner has been around the Mets for the team's entire existence and was a signature voice of the franchise for decades.
Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow
It was hard to separate Kuiper and Krukow on this list, so we decided, simply, not to. Kuiper is a five-time Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, calling some of the great moments in the illustrious recent history of the San Francisco Giants.
Krukow has won seven Emmy Awards for his work as a broadcaster, calling Giants games since the '90s. The duo became so popular they did the voice work for EA Sports' MVP Baseball for three years in the early aughts.
McCarver got his start in the late 1970s working Phillies games, and parlayed his knowledge of the game and status as an All-Star and World Series champion player to reach the highest levels of broadcasting.
McCarver has been the lead analyst on Fox for years and has taken his fair share of criticism over that time. Frankly, if McCarver—who is leaving Fox after this season—had retired 10 years ago, he might be in the Top 10 on this list. But he hung around far too long, and his folksy nature of oversimplifying while overanalyzing the game at the same time has him worthy of mention, not ranking.
Nelson is one of the great announcers in the history of sports broadcasting, and if he wasn't so high on the list of college football and NFL announcers, he would probably rank higher on here. (I admit that logic does not seem fair.)
One of the first announcers for the New York Mets, Nelson spent 17 years with the Mets before moving to San Francisco to call Giants games. Nelson is in what seems like every possible Hall of Fame for an announcer, a series of much-deserved honors over his illustrious career.
Niehaus was a Seattle institution, and if you grew up listening to him call Mariners games, there’s a chance you grew up loving Niehaus. From a 2010 New York Times story about his retirement:
His voice was unmistakable, his passion coming through on the big plays and the homers, when his voice would rise and he would shout, “My oh my!” Most of his home run calls—and at the Kingdome, there were lots—would start with “Swung on and BELTED” and end with, “It will fly away!”
And if one of those homers was a Mariners grand slam, well, Niehaus went crazy. He employed what must be the only home run call in baseball history to reference a grandmother: “Get out the rye bread and the mustard, Grandma, it’s grand salami time!”
Don’t forget the cheese.
Palmer was a top national analyst for years, working NBC games with Al Michaels and Tim McCarver before settling back in Baltimore to work for the Orioles, primarily with long-time partner Gary Thorne. Palmer is never afraid to share his opinions—a charge that is harder than it sounds for game analysts who are paid by the teams they cover. Just don’t get him going on the Steroid Era.
Santo was a homer in a class unlike any other homers, but that’s just what endeared him to Cubs fans and fans of other teams alike; he was unabashedly rooting for the Cubbies. And for much of his tenure in the booth, the team was horrible, which made his blatant honesty kind of...refreshing...in a way.
I really enjoy Smoltz on TV, which is saying something as a Phillies fan who hates everything about the Braves of the '90s. (Yes, his affiliation with the Braves trumps his affiliation with Turner.)
Smoltz doesn't rely on gimmicks in the booth. His analysis is always sound, well-reasoned and delivered with confidence that never sounds like he’s talking down to the audience, or down on the players.
Perhaps more than any announcer in the game, Sterling manages to make everything about him, which is why he’s the perfect radio announcer for a team like the Yankees, whose fans make everything in baseball about them.
Sterling got into professional broadcasting in New York in 1970, but didn't join the Yankees until 1989 (after a long stint in Atlanta), holding a position in the Yankees booth ever since. His signature home run call, “It is high...it is far...it is gone,” is what has made him so recognizable, and in some cases, maligned. There have been far too many warning-track false starts in Sterling’s later years and that, when coupled with campy schtick like “It’s an A-Bomb from A-Rod,” is what keeps him out of the Top 25.
And speaking of the Top 25...