Ranking the 10 Best Radio Announcers in MLB
Not all of us can afford to pony up mega bucks to go to Opening Day every year. Luckily, we can have the next best thing: TV!
With the advancements in television technology over the years, some combinations of monitors, high-def packages and surround sound make it feel like you're actually at a game.
And then there's the 99 percent (just kidding), who have basic cable and live in small apartments that are "just outside the bad part of town, I swear." What do we resort to for following our favorite baseball teams all year long?
Since we're likely borrowing the neighbor's wireless, and it cuts out every few minutes, following online is out of the question. Alas, we turn to radio. Old faithful.
It's the only thing that makes driving from home to work to home to work to home to work a million times a year somewhat bearable.
And within the sports-talk-radio hierarchy, there are your legends and your up-and-comers and your underrated's. Here is where I rank the 10 best radio announcers in MLB.
I just hope your team's broadcaster is on there. Or you might be out of luck!
10. Pat Hughes, Chicago Cubs
This is one of my favorite clips that I found during research. Pat Hughes and the late Ron Santo sound like little boys when Carlos Zambrano finishes off his no-hitter in 2008. Hughes almost just sounds humbled to be calling a no-hitter!
I love it. Hughes and Santo made a great team in the booth, and unfortunately only half the team remains calling Cubs games. But that gravelly voice and obviously pure passion for baseball resonates in the calls Hughes makes.
As a fan of another National League team, I can't say I want to see the Cubs win a title soon. But if they do happen to put that together, I can only imagine how epic a call by Hughes in that moment would be.
9. Eric Nadel, Texas Rangers
Nadel is one of the more underrated announcers in baseball. While he's racked up plenty of regional awards for broadcasting, Nadel has yet to be recognized nationally as one of the greats.
He began his career as a voice of the Rangers back in 1979, and pretty recently announced a lifetime contract to continue announcing games for them until he chooses to retire.
You've got to love the dramatics of his call after the Rangers clinched the A.L. pennant in 2010. He's got a way with poetics and setting the scene for the listener at home.
Also, I really dig that he will let crowd noise take over at the end of a big moment, a la Vin Scully.
8. Mike Shannon, St. Louis Cardinals
Mike Shannon has been a voice of the Cardinals since 1972, and there's nobody more St. Louis than him. Born and raised in St. Louis, Shannon went on to a short big-league career with the Cardinals organization after attending the University of Missouri.
After the legendary Jack Buck died in 2002, Shannon was named the lead voice for Cardinals radio. Unfortunately, I couldn't find one of his signature home-run calls on YouTube for this slide.
In the booth is where he's really thrived, though. In 1985, Shannon even won an Emmy for his broadcasting contributions to the Cardinals. He's also been inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
A two-time World Series champion (1964, 1967) as a player, Shannon was incredibly clutch in the postseason. And believe it or not, he hit the final home run in the original Busch Stadium and the first in the second Busch Stadium!
7. Ken Korach, Oakland A's
I've had the privilege of listening to Korach announce local games on the radio for a long time now. Korach was promoted to the lead in 2006, after the legend Bill King passed away.
He joined the organization in 1996, and teamed up with King and Ray Fosse to be named the American League's second-best radio team by USA Today in 2005.
His signature call is on a called third strike, when he bellows, "Ring 'em up! Strike three called!" That's a phrase A's fans have been used to hearing over the years, as pitching has been dominant for the green and gold.
But there's no getting around the embedded link on this slide: Korach calling the walk-off single by Miguel Tejada that tied the longest winning streak in league history. Enjoy!
6. Jon Miller, San Francisco Giants
Miller has one of the most recognizable voices in sports radio, in my opinion. Miller also is known for his time teaming up with Joe Morgan for nationally televised broadcasts. He's been with the Giants, his hometown team, since 1997.
As a player, Miller never amounted to much, but definitely found his niche in the broadcast booth.
Besides the deep, calm voice, Miller is known for his outlandish, yet truthful comparisons, and for impeccable pronunciation of Hispanic last names (a breath of fresh air, considering most announcers butcher them).
One of his more famous calls with the Giants came when he claimed "That was the worst base running in the history of the game!" during a play in which former Giants outfielder Ruben Rivera was thrown out at home.
Of course, one that will live in infamy is Barry Bonds' 756th home run. Above is the audio of the Giants advancing to the 2010 World Series.
5. John Sterling, New York Yankees
You better be a good radio voice if you're going to be announcing the most successful American sports franchise of all time. Sterling fits the bill, and he's had to spew his "Yankees win...theeeeeeeee Yankees win" line (see clip) hundreds of times by now.
Sterling has announced every Yankees game since 1989 and has a signature style all his own. He is a polarizing figure in the booth, regularly receiving criticism for errors in speech at certain points.
But any member of the New York organizations receive harsh criticism for trivial things like wearing the wrong socks. So take the Sterling criticisms with a grain of salt and have a listen for yourself.
I enjoy the voice and the style, and as tired as I am of hearing how the Yankees have won, it's not a catchphrase you can really disagree with.
4. Joe Castiglione, Boston Red Sox
I apologize in advance for not hooking you up with the epic 2004 World Series call. It's nowhere to be found on YouTube. So I guess you'll have to take my word for it!
Castiglione has a really classy, memorable radio voice, and just like much of Red Sox Nation, took a chance to let it all out when the BoSox finally took it all home in 2004.
He took over the lead in 1991, and has been a mainstay ever since. One fun, yet troubling fact (for Red Sox fans, at least) about Castiglione, is he admitted in an autobiography that he grew up a Yankees fan!
The rivalry never ends.
3. Marty Brennaman, Cincinnati Reds
Brennaman is definitely one of my favorite announcers. Look no further than the embedded clip here. He is so passionate about what he does, the Reds, and baseball in general. You have to respect that.
Despite many controversial moments throughout his career, including a harsh, public criticism of Chicago Cubs fans, Brennaman has been one of the best in the game since he paired up with Joe Nuxhall in 1974.
Brennaman won the Ford C. Frick Award in 2000, and has been the voice behind some of baseball's greatest moments. The list includes Hank Aaron's record-tying 714th home run, Ken Griffey Jr.'s 500th and 600th home runs, and Pete Rose's 4,192nd career hit.
2. Bob Uecker, Milwaukee Brewers
Even if Bob wasn't an incredible announcer with years and years of experience under his belt, I would have included him in the top 10 simply for his work as Harry Doyle in the film Major League.
If you're unsure what that is, kindly exit my slideshow immediately. Or just play the clip above (Warning - unedited).
Uecker's a hometown guy in Milwaukee and has racked up multiple honors, including being inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2001 and being awarded the Ford C. Frick Award in 2003.
Maybe a little-known fact, though: Uecker played in the big leagues in the 60's and won the 1964 World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Still, Uecker will forever be entrenched in baseball fans' memories for calls like this.
1. Vin Scully, Los Angeles Dodgers
Please. Like anyone else had a shot in the world to be in this slot. Vin Scully is, without a doubt, the greatest baseball broadcaster of all time. And one could easily make the case that he's the greatest broadcaster in any sport, ever.
His 62 years with the Dodgers organization is unprecedented, as are his list of awards and honors. Included among some of his great calls are the Kirk Gibson walk-off home run in 1988, the ball through Bill Buckner's legs, and Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th homer.
One of his signature moves is to let the crowd noise funnel in on the radio after a big play. His voice is oft-impersonated because it's old-school, clear and calm.
A friend of mine once told me that Vin Scully is a bad announcer because he "only talks about the game." Well. Excuse me, friend. That's what baseball is all about, and nobody knows it better than Vin.