Baseball's 10 Best Active Broadcasters

JW NixSenior Writer IIApril 6, 2011

Baseball's 10 Best Active Broadcasters

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    FLUSHING, NY - APRIL 15:  Former player and announcer Bob Uecker looks on before the Milwaukee Brewers play the New York Mets on April 15, 2006 at Shea Stadium in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Brewers defeated the M
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    A game of baseball can sometimes be as much fun when listening to the broadcast booth as it is when watching the actual action on the diamond.

    Generally, that position is filled by people who have been in and around the game for as long as anyone can remember.

    While the fairly recent losses of legends like Ernie Harwell and Harry Kalas make the game a little less fun, there are several people left who bring listeners much-needed smiles.

    We all have our favorites, so feel free to add yours to the list if you are so inclined. Yours truly freely admits that he hasn't had the pleasure of hearing everyone behind the microphone.

Bob Uecker

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    If you want to get a feel of how cool Ueck is, you can watch all the commercials, appearances with Johnny Carson, movies and even his sitcom for a taste.

    One of the best ways is to listen to comedian Artie Lange tell a story of how he got to sit next to Uecker for a few innings and watch the maestro at work. Truly hilarious insight.

    Mr. Baseball knows his stuff, both good and bad. A sound defensive catcher with a World Series ring, he once led the league in passed balls while trying to catch knuckleballing Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, despite playing just 59 games.

    He is not just extremely funny, but you can improve your own game listening to Uecker. Want to learn how to catch a knuckleball? Just wait until it stops rolling, then go pick it up.

    Here is a montage of some of his quips:

    "Anybody with ability can play in the big leagues. But to be able to trick people year in and year out the way I did, I think that was a much greater feat."

    "Baseball hasn't forgotten me. I go to a lot of old-timers games and I haven't lost a thing. I sit in the bullpen and let people throw things at me. Just like old times."

    "Career highlights? I had two. I got an intentional walk from Sandy Koufax and I got out of a rundown against the Mets."

    I didn't get a lot of awards as a player. But they did have a Bob Uecker Day Off for me once in Philly.

    I had slumps that lasted into the winter.

    I hit a grand slam off Ron Herbel and when his manager Herman Franks came out to get him, he was bringing Herbel's suitcase.

    I knew when my career was over. In 1965 my baseball card came out with no picture.

    I led the league in "Go get 'em next time."

    I set records that will never be equaled. In fact, I hope 90 percent of them don't even get printed.

    I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for $3,000. That bothered my dad at the time because he didn't have that kind of dough. But he eventually scraped it up.

    If a guy hits .300 every year, what does he have to look forward to? I always tried to stay around .190, with three or four RBI. And I tried to get them all in September. That way I always had something to talk about during the winter.

    In 1962, I was named Minor League Player of the Year. It was my second season in the bigs.

    Let's face it. Umpiring is not an easy or happy way to make a living. In the abuse they suffer, and the pay they get for it, you see an imbalance that can only be explained by their need to stay close to a game they can't resist.

    One time, I got pulled over at 4 a.m. I was fined $75 for being intoxicated and four-hundred for being with the Phillies.

    People don't know this, but I helped the Cardinals win the pennant. I came down with hepatitis. The trainer injected me with it.

    Sporting goods companies pay me not to endorse their products.

    Sure, women sportswriters look when they're in the clubhouse. Read their stories. How else do you explain a capital letter in the middle of a word?

    The highlight of my career? In '67 with St. Louis, I walked with the bases loaded to drive in the winning run in an intrasquad game in spring training.

    When I came up to bat with three men on and two outs in the ninth, I looked in the other team's dugout and they were already in street clothes.

    When I looked at the third base coach, he turned his back on me.

    I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Actually, I was born in Illinois. My mother and father were on an oleo margarine run to Chicago back in 1934, because we couldn't get colored margarine in Wisconsin. On the way home, my mother was with child. Me. And the pains started, and my dad pulled off into an exit area, and that's where the event took place. I remember it was a Nativity type setting. An exit light shining down. There were three truck drivers there. One guy was carrying butter, one guy had frankfurters, and the other guy was a retired baseball scout who told my folks that I probably had a chance to play somewhere down the line.

    Well, a couple of grand slammers and the Brewers are right back in this one (Uecker during the eighth inning of a game the Brewers were losing 8โ€“0.)

    The biggest thrill a ballplayer can have is when your son takes after you. That happened when my Bobby was in his championship Little League game. He really showed me something. Struck out three times. Made an error that lost the game. Parents were throwing things at our car and swearing at us as we drove off. Gosh, I was proud.

    A doctor told me to drink lemon juice after a hot bath. But I have never finished the bath.

    I won the Comeback of the Year Award five years in a row!

    I'm scared of the Reds.

    I had been playing for a while, and I asked Louisville Slugger to send me a dozen flame-treated bats. But when I got it, I realized they had sent me a box of ashes.

    Luv Ya, Ueck!

Jim Palmer

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    Residents in Charm City have long been blessed with great men behind a microphone. The legendary Chuck Thompson is still king, and his days working withย Baltimore Orioles Hall-of-Famer Brooks Robinson were fun.

    Ford Frick Award winner Jon Miller took over in the radio booth when Thompson, who also won the Frick Award, worked just television in 1983, the year the Orioles won the World Series. Today the Orioles have the excellent Gary Thorne.

    Palmer is the greatest pitcher in Orioles history. He is a Hall of Famer who has done modeling and acting, too, so going to the booth was a natural transition. He started working network television before coming back home to do just Orioles games.

    Listening to Palmer is a daily education. From his knowledge of the game, stories from the past, and relationships with current players, Palmer is always fun to listen to.

    A few years ago, the Orioles played the Washington Nationals. Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton was calling Nationals games at the time, and someone had the idea to put both in the same booth.

    The legends swapped stories, theories, things they learned and more. Anyone who got to listen to the duo in that three-game series probably paid little attention to the action on the field because the focus was on listening to the duo.

    Baltimore has had solid guys like Buck Martinez in the booth, as well as Orioles greats like Rick Dempsey and Mike Flanagan working with Thorne, too.

    But everyone quietly hopes Palmer will feel like calling the game that day so they can get a wealth of wisdom and greatness.

Vin Scully

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    Scully's 61 years of calling Los Angeles Dodgers games is the longest of any broadcaster with a single club in professional sports history. The 83-year old is still going strong, showing no signs of slowing down.

    Not only is his wealth of knowledge endless, but all players say Scully is one of the truest gentleman to have ever graced the game.

    Born in the Bronx of New York City, Scully started calling Brooklyn Dodgers games in 1950. He accompanied the team when they moved in 1958, making him and Tommy Lasorda the last ties in the organization to their beginnings.

    While he has covered all sports, many other organizations have unsuccessfully tried to retain his services. His loyalty to the Dodgers is a legend of lore that will not be duplicated.

    The historic moments he has called are endless, from the Brooklyn Dodgers' only World Series win, to four perfect games and a no-hitter.

    His biggest moments may have been Hank Aaron's record-breaking 715th home run and Kirk Gibson's famous World Series home run in 1988.

    Scully, a Frick Award winner, is often imitated, but he will never be duplicated. There are thousands of Dodgers fans out there who root for the team because he is the man in the booth.

Jon Miller

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    Miller started out broadcasting Major League Baseball games with the Oakland A's in their title year. After working with the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox, he got a job with the Baltimore Orioles in 1983.

    The Orioles changed owners in 1993, and Miller was fired in 1996 for being a broadcast journalist, as opposed to a homer type. Though Miller was an Orioles fan, he called games with an objectionable point of view.

    The San Francisco Giants hired him immediately, where he still works today. Miller also spent 20 years with ESPN before departing after the 2010 season. Games he called with Hall of Famer Joe Morgan drew a large fanbase for the network.

    Miller won the Ford C. Frick Award in 2010. Lon Simmons, who also won the Frick Award in 2004, has still sat in on a few Giants games on occasion after retiring to a part-time basis. Giants fans are certainly lucky to have a pair of legends in their booth.

    Miller is known for being cerebral and eclectic, as well as humorous. He does a wide range of impressions that range from Vin Scully, Jack Benny, Thompson, Simmons and others.

Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow

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    This duo of ex-players have teamed in the Giants booth for a few decades. Their rapport is the stuff of legend, as the banter is known to fly often.

    Krukow was a pitcher who won 124 games, including a 20-win season once for the Giants in 1986. Kuiper was a utility player with a good glove and light bat. Krukow often kids Kuiper about how he has four more career home runs than Kuiper.

    Krukow is best known for having his own lingo. His phrases are said to come from the "Kruktionary". Here are a few samples :

    "Grab some pine, meat!"

    "Just another, ha ha ha ha, laugher!"

    "I wanna get that! I wanna get that! I wanna get that!" whenever a product is endorsed during a game.

    Kuiper invented a new slogan for close games: "Giants baseball...torture!"

    Kruk and Kipe are opinionated but funny. Having played the game, what they speak garners the respect of listeners.

    The fact that they are ex-Giants who staunchly support the team and players gives them even more legend in the Bay Area.

Marty Brennaman

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    In 1974, Brennaman was hired to replace the departed Al Michaels to broadcast the Cincinnati Reds games on the radio. Joe Nuxhall, a former Reds pitcher, was paired with him and the duo would call games for the next 31 seasons.

    The pair were extremely popular in Cincinnati, appearing in all sorts of events throughout the city. Brennaman has won the Ford C. Frick Award in 2000, as well as several other awards.

    He is known for voicing his opinion, even if it is deemed controversial. He had been critical of umpires and even some Chicago Cubs fans.

    His son, Thom, is a respected announcer who has called games for the Fox network. He also announced for NFL games, the Cubs and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    Thom, who started out working with his dad in the late 1980s, rejoined the Reds in 2006 so the Brennamans could team up again. This gives Reds fans a duo with almost 70 years of combined broadcast experience.

Ralph Kiner

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    Kiner followed a Hall of Fame playing career, which ended early due to injury, to the the booth.

    He joined the expansion New York Mets in 1962 and is still going at 88 years old. Kiner is the only broadcaster to call all of the Mets history, as he enters his 50th year with the team.

    Mets fans enjoyed the days of Kiner and Frick Award winner Bob Murphy working together for 41 years. The duo was entertaining in many ways and developed a huge following.

    Kiner is a gem himself. He is known for making mistakes on the microphone, especially with remembering names. He even called himself Ralph Korner once. He called Gary Carter "Gary Cooper," and Hubie Brooks he called "Mookie."

    Kiner hosted a show called "Kiner's Korner" since 1963, but the post-game show appearances dwindled as Kiner aged.

    Here are a few of his most notable quotes on the "Korner" :

    "And it's going....going....going to be caught."

    "The Mets are winless in the month of Atlanta."

    "It's Father's Day today at Shea, so to all you fathers out there, Happy Birthday."

    "All of Rick Aguilera's saves have come in relief appearances."

    "All the Met wins on the road against Los Angeles this year have come at Dodger Stadium."

    Mets fans love Ralph Kiner! With good reason.

Chip Caray

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    Sometimes one is born to sit in a broadcast booth due to DNA. Chip Caray's grandfather and father had announced baseball games over 80 seasons combined. His grandfather, Harry, is a legend in the city of Chicago, while his dad, Skip, is an Atlanta legend.

    His dad broke him into broadcasting Braves baseball in 1991, even though he had already done two seasons of working Orlando Magic games in the NBA under his belt. Caray left the Braves to call Seattle Mariners games for a few years, then worked for the Fox network.

    His grandfather worked with him doing games in 1998, and the two would work together calling Chicago Cubs games until 2004.

    Caray joined the Atlanta Braves to work with his father again in 2005, where he currently works. He also has a brother who calls games for a minor league team in the Braves network.

    Skip Caray worked many years with Hall of Fame pitcher Don Sutton calling Braves games. Sutton has a son, Daron, who is considered by many to be one of the best broadcasters calling baseball games.

    Chip Caray truly benefited from learning as a child from his parents. Thom Brennaman is another excellent broadcaster who is following his own famous father's footsteps.

    But being related to a famous broadcaster does not mean one is automatically good at his job. Joe Buck is the son of the legendary Jack Buck, but he is as exciting as watching paint dry behind a microphone.

Jerry Coleman

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    Coleman started out as a player and won four World Series as well as a World Series MVP Award. He is the only Major League Baseball player ever to have seen combat in two wars.

    He started working in the booth of San Diego Padres games in 1972 and has been there since, with the exception of the 1980 season. He managed the Padres that year and went 73-89.

    He is one of just four ex-players to win the Ford C. Frick Award. Coleman is known for a penchant of making mistakes announcing, but the 86-year-old is a legend in the San Diego area.


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