I was recently watching a program on ESPN Classic and I heard Chris Schenkel making the call of the game. It took me back to a time when sports on television was an event, not just an option. This was before cable television and the over abundance of sports programming.
I realized my connection to my history of sports is through the sounds of the game. I miss some of the voices from the past. The voices that connected you with the moment and the network.
When you heard Jim McKay's voice you knew two things. Your television was tuned into ABC and sooner or later somebody was going to jump over a barrel or canyon before too long.
When you heard Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek, you knew it was Saturday and NBC was bringing you the ONLY national baseball game of the week.
So with that in mind I tried to connect some voices to moments and networks that are inextricably woven into the fabric of my sports culture. I offer my apologies to everyone offended with my oversight(s) and old school selections.
College Football: Keith Jackson- known for his long career with ABC Sports television, his coverage of college football as well as his style of folksy, down-to-earth commentary and deep voice. He is one of only eleven broadcasters selected into the American Sportscasters Association HOF. Longtime Penn St. Head Coach Joe Paterno said of Jackson: "I don't think you could say that there is any one person who is not a coach, athletic director or administrator who has done more for college football than Keith Jackson".
NFL Football: Pat Summerall- The voice of NFL football from 1962-1999. Best known for his 20 plus year partnership with John Madden on CBS and FOX. Summerall also had been CBS' signature voice for its golf coverage, including the Masters since 1968 and for the U.S. Open Tennis Championships since 1971.
Tennis: Dick Enberg-As NBC's longtime voice of the Wimbledontennis championships (alongside Bud Collins and, later, John McEnroe) , Enberg regularly concluded the network's coverage of the two-week event with thematically appropriate observations accompanied by a montage of video clips.
NBA Basketball: Marv Albert- How good is Albert? Real good. He made the most of his second chance. Even after his sex scandal in the 90's Albert continues to be the lead play-by-play announcer for NBA games on TNT, a position he assumed in 1999. Albert has been honored for his work and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and is commonly referred to as "the voice of basketball.”
College Basketball: Help me here. I know most expect Jim Nantz, but I just can’t do it. Too much drama for me. I also considered Musberger, but he ruined the Michigan ’89 win with the on-air love affair he had with himself.
Major League Baseball: Mel Allen, Vin Scully. No explanations needed.
Boxing: Howard Cosell- Most noted for his work on MNF, Cosell was at the center of many of boxing’s biggest moments. His relationship with Ali made him a household name and fixture in the history of the sport.
Wrestling: Gordon Solie (Pictured)- Sentimental favorite from the 70’s and 80's. Before wrestling was cool there was Gordon Solie. Nobody covered a steel cage match as if it really mattered like Gordon.