Ron Santo and the 50 Most Beloved Announcers in Sports History
Ron Santo, the former Cubs' third baseman turned beloved announcer, died Friday at the age of 70 due to complications from diabetes.
Santo was one of the greatest Cubs of all time, and his legacy continued to grow once he went to the booth. It was there that Santo went from hero to beloved icon in his club.
In Ronnie's honor, we're looking at the 50 most beloved announcers in sports history. They might not be the best, but they were and are the best-loved by their home fans.
50. Gus Johnson
Johnson is still young for this list, but he is swiftly becoming one of the most beloved announcers of all time.
His exuberance, excitement and energy on the mic have made him a fan favorite, and his coverage of some of the best games in the history of March Madness, as well as some fantastic NFL games, have made him a household name.
How do you know he's beloved? Do you stick around on CBS when you hear Gus' voice calling a game, even if you could care less about the teams playing? Me too.
49. Bill Raftery
Raftery is one of college basketball's most recognizable color commentators. His catchphrases are a staple of CBS' March Madness coverage, and he remains one of the most knowledgeable color men in the business.
Some of Raftery's more well-known phrases include:
"Send it in, big fella!" and the offshoot, "Send it in, Jerome!"
When you combine Raftery with Johnson, Prairie View could be playing Presbyterian and I'd watch.
48. Tommy Smyth
"Puttin' it in the backa the auld onion bag!" Smyth's favorite catch phrase when he was covering soccer for ESPN helped to make him the network's most recognizable face.
Smyth was with ESPN starting in 1993, and while many loved him and his indecipherable accent, there were also many who couldn't stand the bald leprechaun.
Personally, Smyth makes me wish I had an Irish accent. Or any cool accent.
47. Max Falkenstein
Falkenstein was an icon among KU faithful for years. His partnership with Bob Davis was iconic amongst the college broadcasters, and it was a sad day when he called it quits in 2007.
46. Pete Gross
Gross was the voice of the Seattle Seahawks from their inception in 1976, until his death from cancer in 1993.
He became an icon in the Pacific Northwest and was honored by the Seahawks with a place in their Ring of Honor.
45. Ned Martin
Martin was the voice of the Boston Red Sox for 31 years, and he's a legend in New England because of it. He was a thinking man's announcer, oftentimes dropping literary references into his commentary.
Prose seemed to flow from Martin like no one else, and he is sorely missed by Red Sox Nation in an era when shouting and hyperbole are the norm.
44. Woody Durham
How much of a legend is Durham amongst North Carolina faithful? When they watch Tar Heels games on TV, they mute the sound so they can listen to his call on the radio.
He's been the voice of North Carolina sports since 1971 and with good reason.
43. Bob Harris
Since 1976, Durham has had a foil in Durham in "The Voice of the Blue Devils."
It's hard to pick one over the other, but both deserve spots on this list. Durham's voice is the one you hear in the iconic call on this page.
"Look out Minneapolis! Here come the Blue Devils!"
42. John Motson
Motson's occasional forays into the realm of falsetto, coupled with his immediate transitions from incredible excitement (hence the falsetto) to borderline boredom have been enough to make Motty an English footballing icon.
41. Verne Lundquist
"How do you do!"
Just one of Lundquist's many catch phrases. His emotion and passion for the sport he's covering have made Lundquist one of sports' best and most beloved announcers.
40. Pat Summerall
Summerall was the only person who could take John Madden's occasionally unintelligible ramblings and turn them into something useful and informative.
For that, we love him.
39. Dick Vitale
Never before has someone been as capable of saying less with more words than Dick Vitale. His loud, overexcited style of color commentary has been a staple of college basketball for years now.
While many love Vitale's energy and rhymes, many others can't stand him or his love for programs like Duke.
38. Jon Miller
Speaking of polarizing figures in broadcasting, we come to Jon Miller. Miller's dulcet tones made him a fan favorite in San Francisco and got him noticed by ESPN, where he covered Sunday Night Baseball with Joe Morgan (who is NOT on this list).
Many fans loved listening to Miller call games, and he still holds a place in many a baseball fan's heart in San Francisco.
37. Barry Davies
Davies was the voice of the BBC's "Match of the Day" from 1969 until 2004. Through his superb commentary, Davies helped to build English soccer into what it is today, and he was the voice of the sport for millions of Britons.
36. Martin Tyler
Tyler's voice has become THE voice of soccer in the United States. His commentary is simple and understated, but conveys the emotion of the moment. Is it any surprise that he's beloved?
35. Andres Cantor
No words are necessary. I think the rationale behind this pick is obvious.
34. Brent Musberger
When Keith Jackson retired, Musburger took over as the voice of college football for many people.
While he's not as beloved as Jackson was, his popularity has soared as people realize just how good he is at what he does.
33. Don Cherry
Sure, he might be a little crazy. But come on!
How can you not love Don Cherry, if for no other reason than he has the courage to wear that suit on television?
32. Al Michaels
Michaels' wit and quick quips have made him a popular announcer since the 1980 Miracle on Ice.
Now in 2010, he's moved on to making jokes about "man bites dog" when Jason Avant drops a Michael Vick touchdown pass.
This is why Michaels is great; that and his role in BASEketball.
31. Fred Cusick
Cusick called Bruins games on radio and television from 1969 to 1997, and his iconic "SCORE (player's name here)!" is still heard on occasion from other announcers around the NHL.
No, it's not the same. His voice is sorely missed.
30. Marv Albert
Do Marv Albert and his terrible toupee belong on the list? YES!
29. Tommy Heinsohn
Why do Boston fans love Tommy Heinsohn? He might be the biggest homer in all of broadcasting, for one.
He's also essentially a crotchety old man on air, and eats pizza during games.
For trying to pull that off, Tommy gets five Tommy Points.
28. Gino Cappelletti
Gino is just a New England sports icon. He was a legend for the Boston Patriots in the 1960s and parlayed that into a gig as the color commentator for various college and pro teams, including the Patriots.
He was the color commentator for the 1984 Doug Flutie Boston College Hail Mary, and it's his voice you hear screaming "He got it! He got it! I don't believe it!"
27. Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper
Kruk and Kuip are one of the best-known local announcing tandems in the country. San Francisco treasures these guys, hence why the city gave them a special commendation.
When the city of the team you work for gives you a commendation, it means you're pretty darn beloved and deserve to be on this list.
26. Jerry Remy
This pretty much tells you why Remy is so widely loved. He's the one with the accent.
25. Herb Carneal
Carneal is a legend among broadcasters, having been a play-by-play man with some of the greatest ever in Baltimore before he made his name.
But it wasn't until he came to Minnesota and became the play-by-play announcer for the Twins that he became a legend.
His voice was mellow, his style simple and his catchphrase was a simple "Hi everybody." But in the end, that's what made Carneal so loved.
24. John Madden
Madden could ramble on about football for days...and usually did.
But you couldn't help but love him, and early in his broadcasting career he was truly helpful in assisting young people across the country understand the ins and outs of football.
23. Skip Caray
Skip followed in his dad's footsteps, becoming beloved in Atlanta for his quick humor and ability to call a game as well as anyone. This is the audio from one of the most famous calls of his career.
You can see why he was beloved until the day he died, and his death is a loss still reverberating in the Braves' booth, which just isn't the same without him.
22. Johnny Most
Sure, he was a homer. But Most's unique, raspy, chain-smoker voice defined basketball in Boston for a generation.
For a local broadcaster, it was perfectly acceptable to root for the home team because that's what the fans wanted, someone they could relate to. And they could definitely relate to Most.
21. Mel Allen
The voice of the Yankees, Allen was also known for his "How bout that?" call, used whenever a player made an excellent play in the field.
The call was used on This Week in Baseball, a nationally syndicated show that made Allen's voice the voice of baseball for kids across the country.
Somehow, in a move that still baffles fans, the Yankees fired Allen in 1965. They eventually brought him back, though, and TWIB's voice remains the Yankees' best play-by-play announcer of all time.
20. Red Barber
Barber was an icon, beloved by millions of New Yorkers. He was the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1939 through 1954, and the voice of the Yankees from 1954 until his firing in 1966.
He was fair, never a homer and his voice was NBC's answer to Mel Allen's bravado and bluster.
It's impossible to pick Allen or Barber as being superior, because they were so very different. Both were pioneers and both were beloved until their retirements.
19. Dick Lynch
Lynch was a former New York Giant who went into the booth after he retired from football in 1966.
He was the perfect complement to great play-by-play men like Marv Albert, Marty Glickman and Bob Papa.
18. Mike Shannon
Shannon has been a staple of St. Louis Cardinals' baseball broadcasts since 1972. For most of that time, he formed quite a dynamic duo with play-by-play man Jack Buck.
When Buck passed away in 2002, Shannon took over lead duties, and he still holds that position to this day.
Mike is a legend in St. Louis, and he's definitely beloved enough to rank this high on the list.
17. Ralph Kiner
Kiner's reputation was first made as a player with the Pirates in the 40s and 50s, but after his retirement he entered the broadcast booth.
His malapropisms and foibles have made him a lovable announcer for the Mets since their inception.
Kiner still broadcasts games for the Mets, despite a bout with Bell's palsy that left his speech slurred. His iconic "That ball is gone" call is now a part of baseball's basic vocabulary.
16. Ron Santo
Santo was a Chicago Cub through and through. He bled red and blue, and loved his team more than anything else.
Sure, he made his share of errors, but that just made him all the more lovable and beloved. He passed as an icon, and deserves a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
15. Myron Cope
Cope is a classic. His unique voice and penchant for invention (Terrible towel, anyone?) are sorely missed.
Let's give him a good, old-fashioned "Double yo!"
14. Bob Murphy
Murphy was one of the original broadcasters for the New York Mets, along with Ralph Kiner and Lindsey Nelson. He owns one of the most historic calls in Mets' history, from Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.
He was renowned for "painting the word picture," describing the action in such detail that the radio listener knew exactly what was going on.
13. Phil Rizzuto
Holy cow! "Scooter" is sorely missed by Yankee fans, particularly given the polarizing relationship the team's fans have with Rizzuto's replacement, John Sterling.
His description of the cannoli he enjoyed in the booth was almost as important as the action on the field, but that was why people loved Phil Rizzuto.
12. Sam Rosen
"He scores! Messier! Messier!" Rosen etched himself into New Yorkers' minds forever with his call of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, and he's held a special place in their hearts ever since.
11. Larry Munson
If you grew up in the south, you KNEW Larry Munson. He was a deity in the state of Georgia.
I bet, if you look hard enough, you'll find a couple of churches built in his honor.
10. Dave Niehaus
Niehaus has been turning heads ever since the first pitch he called in Seattle Mariners history.
He was renowned for his fantastic catch phrases, such as "Get out the rye bread and mustard, Grandma, it is grand salami time!" and "It will fly away!" (sometimes "Fly, fly away!"), which was seen on home runs.
Niehaus is the only broadcaster the Mariners have had. How will they replace a legend?
9. Chick Hearn
His unique playcalling style made him an icon. He was beloved by fans, players and coaches alike, and his absence has been tangible on Lakers' radio broadcasts since his death in 2002.
When you invent phrases like slam dunk, air ball and "no harm, no foul," you're bound to be revered. It also helps to do that while being the primary voice for one of the NBA's most successful franchises.
8. Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall
Joe and Marty were Cincinnati baseball. They were, and still are deities in the city, and even though Marty's still doing announcing, it's just not the same without the Old Lefty.
They were the perfect combination of fun and seriousness, and they probably would have continued to dominate until they rode off into the sunset.
7. Ernie Harwell
Harwell was the Detroit Tigers, and he embodied the city of Detroit itself. Hard-working, blue-collar and tough.
He had so many signature calls that it's tough to pick just one, although his "That one is LOOOONG Gone!" was sure fantastic.
6. Bob Uecker
Uke has had a wide-ranging and varied career. He's best known as the Milwaukee Brewers' radio announcer, but he's been in movies, on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and is a successful standup comedian.
He's an icon, and he's certainly worthy of a spot on this list.
From "JUST a bit outside" to "Get up! Get up! Get outta here! Gone!", Uecker has had plenty of catchphrases over the years.
Fortunately, he's still with us, charming the pants off the baseball world.
5. Keith Jackson
Whoa Nelly! By the end of his career, Keith Jackson was college football. Not for a particular school; instead, Jackson was the voice that made it all worthwhile.
His prose was brilliant, his witticisms clever, and Jackson is undoubtedly the most beloved college football broadcaster of all time.
4. Vin Scully
It really is remarkable that the drawling Scully is famous in the same city as the quick jabbering Chick Hearn.
But they're both icons, and Scully has been the Dodgers' announcer since they arrived in Los Angeles.
When he retires, he will be sorely missed.
3. Jack Buck
It seems like any time history was made, in any sport, Jack Buck was there to tell us about it.
He was beloved across the country, even in Chicago, where the Cubs let him during sing the seventh inning stretch.
And for a Cardinals' broadcaster to do that at Wrigley Field is a testament to how much Buck meant to the baseball world.
2. Harry Kalas
We lost a legend when Harry Kalas passed away in 2009. He was the voice of Phillies baseball and NFL Films.
When you make Philly fans cheer your memory, you must be beloved.
1. Harry Caray
When your team dedicates a statue at its main gates to you, you know you are an icon.
And Caray truly was an icon. Beloved by fans, media, players, everyone. He cannot be replaced in the hearts of Cubs' fans, and his death was a dark day for baseball and the sports world as a whole.
Despite having died 12 years ago, he is still one of the most recognizable announcers in baseball, and there will never be another like him.