The Top 10 MLB Radio/TV Announcers
I don't know about the rest of the sports audience, but for me, hearing the commentary of a huge play from the play-by-play man is just as awesome as watching it on television. However, there are some TV announcers that can make baseball lovers enjoy their calls.
There can be a wide range of emotions going through the minds of radio/TV announcers, from heartbreak to ecstasy, and it is a joy to listen to some of the most creative and entertaining voices in the MLB.
Sure, there are national radio play-by-play men, but I want to stick with the local men only. These ten announcers do the best job they can of bringing the listener into the game, and create an environment where a fan of a team can enjoy the experience by listening to a game as much as watching it.
Again, here are my Top Ten, along with some samples of their fine work.
Number 10: Joe Castiglione (Boston Red Sox)
He sure has the voice of a Bostonian, and speaks to the hearts and minds of all Red Sox fans. Since joining the radio crew in 1983, he has become an icon in Red Sox lore.
Like most announcers, he delivers perfect commentary to a game, and dramatizes the moment when needed. His signature moment as a Boston Red Sox announcer was in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series in four games.
Here is his call though, from the 2007 World Series:
He is very classy here, and his catch phrase "Can you believe it?" is present.
Number 9: Michael Kay (New York Yankees)
I know that many people (even Yankees fans) have some kind of problem with Michael Kay, but he is the exact type of eccentric, crazy, zany announcer that New York needs to counter the high-class Yankees "aura" and "mystique" that is touted around every day.
He's crazy and kooky though, in a very good way. His signature call "SEE YA!" defines the home run as we know it today.
His TV work is fairly excellent, but it is the calls that he can make that really put him on the top tier of announcers, radio or on TV.
As painful as it is for me to listen to, here is his call from the Luis Castillo dropped pop-up. It isn't "Mr. November", but damn is it close. And it is not bad, it's just hard for a Mets fan to hear it.
Number 8: Jon Miller (San Francisco Giants)
Whenever he isn't calling games on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, he is doing it on the West Coast for the Giants. He has been in the business for a very long time, and has been calling Giants games since 1997. With age, comes great experience, and he has plenty of it.
He is sort of like Michael Kay, using thrills and his exciting voice to satisfy listeners (and watchers if you watch ESPN). Jon is so easy to listen to, because he has such an inviting presence in his work. It's like spending a day with you best buddy at the ballpark.
Here is his famous call of the infamous Ruben Rivera base-running error in 2003.
Number 7: Gary Thorne (Baltimore Orioles)
I believe everyone knows Gary Thorne more for his legendary NHL play-by-play career, but now he is known for his coverage of the Baltimore Orioles, and he really does an excellent job.
He brought over his play-by-play talent from hockey to the MLB, and he still can deliver some high-quality and high intensity calls from time to time. He can sometimes represent the fan of the game, and not just the team he calls games for, and that is all listeners really want, right?
Again, painful to watch for me.
Number 6: Ken "Hawk" Harrelson (Chicago White Sox)
Everyone seems to know him now because of Mark Buehrle's perfect game, which all 27 outs can be heard here:
Needless to say, he is one of the most enthusiastic announcers in the game today. His catch phrases are "He gone!" (when a strike out occurs), "You can...put it on the BOARRRD!! YES!" (for home runs), and refers the White Sox to the "good guys".
Ken in one word, is "fun". He is just an announcer who wants to have fun watching the game, making him one of the best in the business.
Number 5: George Grande (Cincinnati Reds)
My 2nd favorite announcer on this list, because he has a smooth delivery in his announcing. But most importantly, he is friendly with the listeners, and helps them out with the situation at hand.
Some signature moments for George are calling Ken Griffey Jr.'s 600th career home run with his famous call: "It's gonna BEEEEEEE....GONE!" and "YES SIR-REE!" He just sounds like a kid watching his favorite team, but lets the emotions translate with his voice, and includes some awesome commentary when dramatic events happen in the game.
Just listen to this from George. It's pretty awesome.
Number 4: Josh Lewin (Texas Rangers)
If anyone read my "Top 10 NFL Announcers" article, then you would know that Josh Lewin was on there too.
Well, Josh is just so good at what he does, I might as well fit him onto the list, and put him pretty high to be precise.
Lewin is another announcer that just has fun with calling games and wants to let the listeners and watchers enjoy the experience. He never crosses the line between professionalism and being a homer, which is a concern for some younger play-by-play men, but not for Josh.
His catch phrases are "Superman" (For Josh Hamilton) and "Ball game!" for a walk-off Rangers win, like this one:
Number 3: Gary Cohen (New York Mets)
Gary is my favorite announcer for two reasons:
1) I'm a Mets fan
2) Listening him talking about the game is just fascinating.
He is not hesitant to question the Mets decisions during the game, but he also does it to the opponent as well. He is as unbiased and professional as you can get. It also helps to have Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling in the booth with you as well.
Gary has produced some of the most memorable calls in Mets history, including the "Grand Slam Single" by Robin Ventura in 1999. But you would never know he would be the one to do it, because he just sounds like "one of the guys", the man who just enjoys a good baseball game, especially a tight one late. His signature phrase is "It's Outta Here!" (when calling a home run)
Here is his call of the Endy Chavez catch in Game 7 of the NLCS (on radio):
Here is my favorite Cohen call (on TV):
Number 2: Harry Kalas (Philadelphia Phillies)
He might have passed away, but Harry Kalas is alive and well with Phillies fans around the world.
Harry is a beloved figure in sports, more for his lovable antics off the mic, and the kindness he showed to all listeners. You might have heard him on NFL Films or calling NFL games before, but that is nothing compared to the work he put into calling Phillies games.
From "Michael Jack Schmidt" to "Struck him out!", Harry always was consistent in calling a great game. His greatest calls were of Mike Schmidt's 500th career home run, the Phillies winning the 1993 NLCS, and of course, the Phillies winning the 2008 World Series.
His slow, baratone voice is unmistakable, his joy for the game was unforgettable. I'll miss you Harry.
Here is his call from the 2008 World Series:
Number 1: Vin Scully (Los Angeles Dodgers)
You weren't honestly thinking that Vin Scully WASN'T going to be Number Uno, right? Vin Scully is, quite possibly, the best play-by-play man in all of North American sports.
Like Harry Kalas, he has a slow delivery, but he always comes through with fantastic dialogue.
We all know about his past calls, like the Bill Buckner error, but here is his call from an unbelievable comeback win for the Dodgers against the Padres.