Countless sports fans have grown up listening to these men who were/are considered cherished friends, even though the average fan has likely never met them.
Their voices provided a large part of the soundtrack of sports followers, passed down from generation to generation. In many cases, they are the reason why people are still fans of the teams that they broadcast.
I believe these are the best broadcasters, by sport. I considered the guys behind the microphone in baseball, football (both college and pro), basketball, hockey and soccer, and I came up with six men. I'm certain many folks will agree with me.
Baseball: Vin Scully
If I had to choose one person as the single greatest sports announcer/broadcaster of all time, this man would be the one.
Scully was the Dodgers' man behind the mic for over 60 years and one of their last links to their Brooklyn heritage. Having started at Ebbets Field in 1950, Vin Scully's voice was ingrained in Southern Californian Major League Baseball fans when the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958. He has provided a steadying permanence to this day.
He has called numerous World Series; who could ever forget him saying, "Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!" at the climax of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series?
It was said that so many people at Dodger Stadium listened to Scully on their transistor radios, that his voice was heard throughout Chavez Ravine virtually every night.
Personally, Vin Scully is the reason why I'm still a Dodgers fan, despite their recent disappointments. My grandparents passed his legacy down to me, and one of my favorite childhood memories was listening to him on the radio and watching him on TV in the summer.
I hold a deep reverence for this man. My one sports wish is to meet him; I regard him that highly.
I am well aware that Yankees fans are loyal to Mel Allen, while their Red Sox rivals prefer Curt Gowdy and the Midwest swears by the Cardinals' Jack Buck and Harry Caray of the White Sox and the Cubs. And I know that Harry Kalas is a god-like legend in Philadelphia, but...
In my view, and the view of millions, Vin Scully is the best, and there will never be anyone like him.
College Football: Keith Jackson
To put it bluntly, the college version of the gridiron was not the college version of the gridiron without Jackson. His down-home style during ABC's Saturday telecasts was an essential part of the sport's growth and following for nearly 40 years.
In fact, I consider Jackson the greatest football broadcaster ever, college or pro.
He was so well-regarded that after he announced his final appearance would be the 1999 Rose Bowl, ABC convinced him to stay on for several more years. His final broadcast was the 2006 Rose Bowl/BCS Championship Game that featured Vince Young and Texas beating USC in an epic battle.
Not a bad way to go out, I have to say.
I'll never forget how he said "Fumble!" and the way he described the action on the field in a conversational style, as if he was in your living room watching the game and having barbecue with you.
Having called countless battles, including many rivalry games such as Michigan vs. Ohio State, UCLA vs. USC and Oklahoma vs. Nebraska, as well as many Rose Bowls, Sugar Bowls and BCS title games, Keith Jackson was truly a legend. College football will never be the same without him.
Pro Football: Pat Summerall
Pat Summerall provided a soothing and knowledgeable voice for the National Football League's broadcasts for many years, particularly during CBS's Game of the Week and the NFL on FOX with John Madden, where they made a tremendous team in the booth.
I certainly put him above Don Meredith and Howard Cosell of (then) ABC's Monday Night Football, as Summerall didn't need to sing about turning off the lights and the party being over; his expertise of the game, as he was a former NFL player for the New York Giants in the 1950s, was more than enough.
I'm sure that many pro football fans across America agree with me on this, as Summerall had a regal nature that gave a sense of class and dignity to the NFL and its broadcasts, including the 16 Super Bowls that he called.
Basketball: Chick Hearn
Over the years that I've watched the Los Angeles Lakers, these quotes have been as an indelible part of this purple and gold-clad franchise as the Forum, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, the Laker Girls and Jack Nicholson...
"The mustard's off the hot dog!"
"He's yo-yoing up and down...dribble drive, SLAAAM DUNK!"
"He has two chances, slim and none, and slim has left the building."
Not to mention the most famous "Chickism" from this man:
"This game is in the refrigerator! The door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter's getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling!"
I'm going to be blunt about this: With due respect to Johnny Most and the Boston Celtic fans who swore by him for decades, and the New York Knicks' Marv Albert, Francis "Chick" Hearn was the greatest basketball broadcaster of all time.
That includes the college ranks as well as the NBA.
Having called 3,368 consecutive Lakers games from 1965 until his death at the end of the 2002 season, Hearn did as much to ingratiate Southern Californians to basketball as John Wooden did with his championship teams at UCLA, if not more.
More than anything else, Hearn helped to bring the people of Los Angeles together with his broadcasts, particularly during the "Showtime" days of the 1980s when Magic, Kareem and James Worthy ruled the City of Angels.
Anyone who can bring a city as diverse as L.A. together, deserves to be highly regarded; that is Chick Hearn's legacy, and it's a significant one.
Hockey: Bob Miller
This man has been the voice of the Los Angeles Kings, and essentially of West Coast hockey, for 38 years and counting, starting with the Kings in 1973.
In fact, I dare say that along with Wayne Gretzky being traded to L.A. in 1988 and playing with them through the mid-1990s, leading them to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993, Bob Miller did more for the growth of hockey in Southern California than anyone. He is a significant factor in creating the Kings' strong fanbase, which has carved a good niche in the L.A. sports scene.
Kids may recognize his voice as the game announcer on The Mighty Ducks movies, another plus.
Considering that this is Canada's national pastime, a sport played on ice that is best suited to cold weather, Bob Miller, through his broadcasts, was brilliant in helping to bring hockey to a climate where it was thought absurd for that sport to thrive.
Soccer: Andres Cantor
I'm sure that there are many announcers of the world's most popular sport that people around the globe have set their hearts on for years, but Spanish-speaking Andres Cantor, a mainstay in Latin American futbol for many years, gets my nod here for one reason:
Anyone who can call a score like that, where he can say that word for what seems like five minutes without taking a breath when the ball goes in the back of the net, automatically deserves a mention on this list in my book.
He has called the action for several FIFA World Cups, along with the Summer Olympics in 2000, 2004 and 2008, and is currently at Telemundo, broadcasting the soccer matches on that network.
With the way he says "Goal!" Cantor's certainly worth tuning into a Spanish-language soccer game.
I hope everyone enjoyed this list, even if you disagree with the people on it.
Whether or not your favorite guy in the booth is listed here, it must be acknowledged that these are great broadcasters—the best friends that you have never met, as I like to say.
It's safe to state that the sports they have covered wouldn't have been the same without them; that is the their biggest significance.
And they have definitely made the lives of their fans a little better for the few hours that they were, and in some cases still are, on the air.