Ted Williams and the 25 Best Voices in Sports

Sam WestmorelandFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2011

Ted Williams and the 25 Best Voices in Sports

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    By now, you've probably heard Ted Williams' story. The homeless man living on the streets of Columbus, Ohio was found to have vocal cords dipped in gold.

    He was built to broadcast sporting events on the radio, given his silky-smooth delivery and well-spoken prose. 

    Williams' dulcet tones got us to thinking about some of the other great voices in sports. Some are players, most are broadcasters, but all of them are remembered for their spectacular voices.

    These 25 have the best (or in the case of Dick Vitale, most memorable) voices in all of sports.

25. Dick Vitale

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    Shocked to see Dickie V, with his nails on a chalkboard voice, anywhere near this list? Me too.

    However, the more you think about it, no one embodies the passion for college basketball (and fans' ability to play favorites) better than Vitale. 

    So while he might not have the dulcet tones of some other names on this list, his iconic status and unique position as the voice (the loud, grating voice) of college basketball make him a member of this list.

24. Bill Raftery

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    Much like Dickie V, Bill Raftery's voice is neither smooth nor particularly comforting. It's sharp and somewhat nasal. But that doesn't stop him from charming the pants off America during the NCAA Tournament each March. 

    He's an icon, and with his catchphrases, he merits a spot amongst the best voices in sports. 

23. Bob Costas

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    Sure, he can be prone to hyperbole. But with a voice like his, Bob Costas can tell a story better than any other modern broadcaster. Love him or hate him, that's just a fact.

22. Mike Emrick

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    Emrick's voice is iconic, and while he lacks the syrupy smoothness of other announcers, his voice is perfectly designed for the frenetic pace of hockey.

    Think about it: Could you see someone with a deep, smooth voice calling a hockey game? Neither can I. 

    That's why Emrick's slightly gravelly, slightly nasal voice is on the list.

21. Mike Tyson

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    Admit it: When Tyson opens his mouth, you can't wait to hear what comes out of it either. You hear his voice and you can't help but smile.

20. Bob Uecker

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    How do we know Uecker has one of sports' best voices? When you're used in movies as a representative of baseball broadcasters, that's how.

    Uke's been in movies, on TV, in commercials, you name it. He's just got one of those voices that sticks with you and is instantly recognizable.

19. Al Michaels

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    Michaels has one of the most versatile voices in sports. He's capable of announcing just about any sporting event imaginable, and he does it all so well that you'd think it was all he covered.

    Currently, he's the voice of Sunday Night Football on NBC. But he's one of the all-time greats, to be sure, and his voice is as good as any.

18. Milo Hamilton

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    Hamilton's dulcet tones have been helping Houston Astros fans follow their team for a generation. His voice has lost nothing over the years, and we can only hope he'll be around for quite a while.

    If he read the phone book like that, the audiobook would be a best seller.

17. Jim Nantz

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    Nantz's voice is perfect for any sport, and he seems to know just how to use it in certain situations.

    He never loses his cool (a la Gus Johnson, one of my favorites, but not someone who should be on this list), and his smooth as satin voice has been helping NFL fans listen to Phil Simms' ramblings for years now.

16. Barry Davies

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    Davies has been the voice of the BBC's Match of the Day for decades now. But with a voice like that, I'd listen to him read the announcements at the start of school each day.

15. Curt Gowdy

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    Gowdy's voice is as memorable as they come, and he was around for so long that it's hard to leave him off a list like this.

14. Jack Buck

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    Another broadcaster whose voice is more high than smooth, Buck still seemed to have been made to broadcast sports. His baseball calls resonate more than any others, and his voice is sorely missed, particularly in St. Louis.

13. Chick Hearn

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    Hearn's unique voice defined basketball for a generation and helped inject three different phrases into the American lexicon. He would not have done well in baseball or football; instead, the frantic pace of basketball made him a perfect fit.

12. Ted Williams

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    Williams doesn't have the experience of the other people on the list, but he definitely has the chops to make a major impact. I mean, just listen to him. He's incredible.

11. Dikembe Mutombo

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    I could seriously listen to Mutombo talk all day long. His deep, crackling voice sounds like it's coming from some cave somewhere—it just hypnotizes you.

    Mutombo's not a broadcaster, but someone should give him a shot. That voice could captivate a nation.

    For proof, just picture him, using the voice he has in this video, saying, "Who wants to sex Mutombo?" 

    Exactly.

10. Vin Scully

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    Much like Jack Buck, Scully is an icon—and with good reason. His slow drawl is perfect for a sport like baseball, where the game moves as fast as molasses.

9. Harry Caray

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    You never think about Harry Caray's voice when you remember him. You remember the glasses and the rambling and the way he kept you mesmerized. But his voice remains one of the best ever.

8. Brent Musburger

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    Musburger is one of sports' best announcers, particularly when it comes to capturing the drama of a moment. I can't describe what it is that makes him so good; just listen and you'll see what I mean.

7. Jim McKay

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    McKay cemented his legacy during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, when he flawlessly covered the terrorist kidnappings and murders. But his voice has remained as much a part of his legacy as that day, and it's at its best in this clip.

6. Martin Tyler

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    Here's a test to prove Tyler's skills as an announcer. Listen to this clip and then tell me if you can picture anyone else doing it. Odds are your answer is no.

    Tyler's voice is perfect for football, and he will remain an institution till he retires.

5. Ernie Harwell

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    Harwell is Detroit. His voice defined the Tigers for a multiple generations of fans, and his smooth delivery remained the envy of many a broadcaster until his retirement.

4. Verne Lundquist

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    Only Verne Lundquist, with his silky-smooth voice, could have the versatility to cover not just basketball and football, but golf as well.

    To do all three as well as he does speaks volumes for his voice and his ability to use it well.

3. Mel Allen

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    Is there a more iconic voice for baseball than Allen? He was baseball for a generation of children, and his "How 'bout that?" call is still used on This Week In Baseball. He was an icon and remains a benchmark among sports' iconic voices.

2. Harry Kalas

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    Kalas was the voice of NFL Films, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Philadelphia Phillies. His voice is still one of the most recognizable of anyone associated with sport and is known in many circles as "The Voice."

    When your peers call you "The Voice," you have one of the best voices ever.

1. Keith Jackson

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    Is there anyone who more fully embodies the sport they cover than Keith Jackson? His voice was college football and was perfectly suited to those autumn days.

    Jackson's stories were always enhanced by his voice, and he always had a grasp of the moment. His voice was, and remains, the greatest in sports history.