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August 6, 2014

The Lineup Card

8 of Our Favorite Broadcasters (Non-Vin Scully Edition)

by Baseball Prospectus


1. Herb Score
They say that no one in baseball history has had to endure more bad baseball than Herb Score. Score, who had been AL Rookie of the Year in 1955, worked as the primary radio announcer for the Indians from 1968 to 1997, meaning that he had a front row seat for the entirety of the 70s and 80s in Cleveland baseball. Let's just say that there weren't a lot of people around fighting him for that seat at old Cleveland Muni. When I came of age as a baseball fan, in the late 80s and early 90s, and the Indians were regularly losing 90 games a year, it would have been easy to go become a football fan and to follow the then-successful-but-always-bested-by-John Elway Browns or the then-successful-but-always-bested-by-Michael Jordan Cavs. But Herb's voice was magic. It was often the last voice that I heard as I fell asleep at night (sorry, Mom...) He was notorious for rarely giving the game score, which infuriated some, but it didn't really matter. His philosophy was that he called everything like it was Game Seven, because the game itself was so beautiful. It didn't matter who was winning. This was a baseball game!

I didn't think of it in those terms back then, but now I realize that when my mind goes into the Herb Score audio vault, it's not to some classic call of his, but to the gentle cadence that built to a frenzy any time that Brook Jacoby fielded a ground ball and then came back down and chuckled when Manny Ramirez did something silly. Maybe Score wasn't the only broadcaster in history who made the game of baseball seem magical, but you know what? He was the one who made it seem magical to 8-year-old me, and for that I am a grateful man. Herb's final call was the last at-bat of the 1997 World Series, the one where Edgar Renteria singled in Craig Counsell and broke the collective heart of Cleveland. I'm not sure what was the bigger loss that day, the Indians losing in the World Series or the fact that Herb turned off his microphone after that. He passed away in 2008, so I have to hope that heaven is up to date on its BP subscription so that Herb might know what he meant to me. —Russell A. Carleton

2. Dewayne Staats
Although I grew up listening to Staats, he's my favorite announcer for reasons beyond nostalgia. His voice and play-by-play style are positives, but his selfless approach elevates him to another level. To use a basketball analogy: Staats has less interest in taking shots than making passes, and given the talent around him, that's a good thing. (Staats and former boothmate Joe Magrane used to make Devil Rays games worth watching, and he has that same chemistry with his current partner, Brian Anderson.) Staats forgoes catchphrases for the most part, and his signature call—"We hope you enjoyed the broadcast, if not the outcome"—is a perfect tribute to the franchise's past. All of that is why Staats is the voice of the Rays—even if he's seldom the one talking. —R.J. Anderson

3. Duane Kuiper
Having grown up in San Francisco as a fan of the Giants, my perspective is biased, but it's easy to feel as though Giants fans have been spoiled by the roster of broadcasters the club has assembled. You'll find below that Matt Kory chose Jon Miller, Doug Thorburn wrote about Mike Krukow, and Sam Miller picked Dave Flemming. I chose Kuiper in large part because his is the voice that I remember from when I was growing up.

If broadcasters were evaluated by tools, Kuiper's voice and humor would rank between 75-80 on my scale. Most couldn't pick Kuiper's voice out of an audible lineup the way Vin Scully's would immediately jump out, but the effortlessness with which the former second baseman raises it in big moments sets him apart. Meanwhile, his humor—which often comes out when the camera/production crew notices overzealous or otherwise funny fans in the crowd, and is aided by Krukow's jokes—keeps any game, even one in which the Giants are losing by 12 runs, entertaining.

Scully's ability to fly solo, to both eloquently describe a game and flower it with stories and observations, puts him in a league of his own. But when it comes to two-man teams, Kruk and Kuip are the class of the league. As the play-by-play man, Kuiper does an outstanding job of both leaving his calls of memorable moments—from Matt Cain's perfect game to Madison Bumgarner's second grand slam of 2014—inextricably linked from the events themselves, and of giving his partner room to flavor the telecast in ways that give it broader appeal. Outside of Scully, there's no one I'd rather listen to while watching a game today. —Daniel Rathman

4. Dave Flemming
The Giants' radio crew this year has a sponsored Home Run Tracker. Every time a Giant hits a home run, Dave Flemming and Jon Miller fire up the home run tracker, which tells them with precision exactly how far the ball flew, within inches sometimes, within moments usually. Not always within moments; when, for instance, two home runs are hit real close to each other, they might have to wait for the home run tracker to reset. Sometimes early in the game they have to wait for the home run tracker to load. It wasn't until a month into the season, and dozens of home runs had been tracked, that I finally realized: there's no home run tracker! The home run tracker is them, making these numbers up. I laughed and laughed.

This isn't why I love Dave Flemming as an announcer, but it includes a lot of what I love about Dave Flemming as an announcer. Flemming joined the crew--along with Miller, he works with the usual television guys, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow--in 2004. Those other three are all big personalities; Miller is a broadcasting icon and Krukow and Kuiper carry on like the two best friends who show up to summer camp together and instantly have a leg up on everybody else. Flemming was just 28, and looked two-thirds of that. At first you might have thought he was a bit shy among them, but from the start--and as he got more comfortable--he never tried to force his way up to their theatrics. He found a spot as the straight man, the calm voice of bemusement in the middle of their three routines. He would tell his own jokes (and they were funny; he's as witty the other three), but they were slipped in furtively, like a $20 that your mom might slip into your coat pocket before you leave for prom. For that, the payoff was always better, the moment two pitches later (or a month later) when you realize you'd been had.

Of course, that's not enough to carry a broadcast. You need to be able to see the game, and at this Flemming excels, too. He speaks clearly, charts player movement with efficient, specific descriptions, uses a wide range of data (particularly to assess defense), and takes the time to explain some of the advanced metrics to Miller (who, I'm sure, doesn't need the explanation, but stands in for the listening masses). He doesn't put on a saccharine or bombastic or folksy radio voice; he just speaks. Sometimes people ask me my favorite sports podcast, and I realized recently that it's the three-hour podcast Flemming and Miller do every day while watching the Giants play.

He's still young. You watch a game, and it occurs to you that every element of that game will be gone before you're done with this sport: The players will retire, the managers will grow old and fade away, the parks will be torn down and rebuilt, the commercials for cell phones will be replaced by commercials for Brawndo. But Flemming might very well be there for 40 more years. It's incredibly reassuring. —Sam Miller

5. Mike Krukow
Giants television announcer Mike Krukow calls games as if he is sitting next to you on the couch, with a weave of personality and knowledge that brings the audience closer to the action on the field. The former Giants pitcher imparts valuable insights, particularly from the mound, with the type of in-depth analysis that goes far beyond the typical cliches of a color commentator. The guy just knows pitching, from mechanics and stuff to the psychological side of the game, and he conveys that knowledge in a way that can be appreciated by the audience regardless of the listener's expertise. There are few announcers who will cause me to turn up the volume (I am more fond of the mute button, personally), but Krukow combines with play-by-play partner Duane Kuiper to be a must-listen whenever I tune into a Giants broadcast.

He also earns bonus points for having a devastating sinker/splitter on the original RBI Baseball video game, a pitch that still gives me the occasional nightmare. —Doug Thorburn

6. Jon Miller
I considered picking Vin Scully for this category for two reasons. First, because I don’t read the directions, and second, because Vin Scully scoffs at your “rules.” But then I decided that wasn’t that funny, so instead I’m picking Jon Miller. Miller is in fact my favorite non-Vin Scully announcer and maybe my favorite announcer even if you include Mr. Scully. That’s no knock on Scully, but I grew up listening to Miller back when he was the radio voice of the Baltimore Orioles. At night before I went to bed, I’d hide a small radio under my pillow, kiss my parents good night, and then turn it on to WTOP 1500 AM, the radio home of the Orioles in Washington, D.C. “Orioles magic, feel it happen!” I’d be sure my parents were out of earshot and then turn the radio on. It was one of those where the on/off switch was also the volume knob and so I’d turn it on to the lowest possible volume and then put it right next to my ear. I’d fall asleep to the mid-80s Orioles with John Lowenstein, Floyd Rayford, Rick Dempsey, Storm Davis, and of course, Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray. I remember waking up with the news in my ear.

Years later, Miller’s contract wasn’t renewed by then-new owner Peter Angelos. Angelos spat out some bunk about Miller not supporting the team enough, not being a big enough cheerleader, but Miller was never about that. He was about the game and reporting the game and telling stories that even as a kid I remember being charmed by. And his voice, well his voice is a classic deep radio voice that rises as the tension of the game dictates, but more than that, his voice is the voice of my childhood. He’ll always be the one I listened to walking home from school on Opening Day in April of pick your year. He’ll always be the one on in the background of weekend day games while my friends and I held our own baseball card conventions on the living room floor. He’ll always be the one voice cascading through the concourse at old Memorial Stadium, or heck, wafting out of houses as I walked through the neighborhoods of North Baltimore on the way to the game. No offense to Mr. Scully, but there’s outstanding announcers who make you love and appreciate the game even more than you thought you could, and then there’s the voice that makes you 10 years old again. Jon Miller. He’ll always be the one. —Matthew Kory

7. Neil Solondz
Neil Solondz was the Durham Bulls' radio broadcaster for the first three seasons I covered the team. He called games with a mixture of unapologetic, expressive enthusiasm and close attention to the characters and stats of the Bulls. He was the best kind of homer. My wife and I loved listening to him when the team was on the road, and I relied on his play-by-play for enrichment of my coverage. He was also generous with his opinions and information when I had questions.

Solondz is now with the Rays, I believe as their postgame ringmaster. Broadcasters are angling for callups, too, and he earned one. Solondz worked extremely hard, even for a minor-league broadcaster. Not only did he make all those grueling overnight bus trips to Toledo, Scranton, and all those other International League towns; not only did he call all the road games solo, with no color guy to fill pauses; he also did the Bulls' daily game notes as the team's de facto PR man. In the untelevised minors, we bond with our teams through the voices of their radio broadcasters. Solondz is gone, but I still hear him when I watch the Bulls play. —Adam Sobsey

8. Pat Hughes
I was introduced to Pat Hughes as an outsider, a recent baseball outcast whose youthful love of the game was scorned by a labor dispute that cost us one World Series. I came to Pat Hughes through my grandfather who would play the Cubs games on his radio during long and seemingly tedious car rides in the summer. I was introduced to an odd kind of literary style of baseball announcing, in which the descriptions of the players became lasting visuals that would come to life. Players like Sammy Sosa and Kerry Wood came to life through Hughes' descriptors as his talent shone through an otherwise quirky show. Pat Hughes can straight up call a game and describe a player in a way that connects the mental and visual aspects of radio.

He’s not a legend quite yet for reasons that escape me. Perhaps the radio game is from a bygone era and his contributions to baseball broadcasting on the whole are blurred by how old-timey radio baseball broadcasts feel. Even so, there’s a large segment of fans who identify Pat Hughes as the voice of baseball. With his ability and deep understanding of broadcasting, Hughes has become a beloved figure worthy of praise and admiration. —Mauricio Rubio

Related Content:  MLB,  Broadcasters,  Announcers

77 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

tmangell

I grew up, as many Midwestern Cards fans did, with Jack Buck and Mike Shannon. Summertime meant hearing their voices on an AM radio in the car or transistor radio on the porch or in the boat. Buck's humor and brevity contrasted well with Shannon's goofy style. Shannon is still going strong, with John Rooney. I miss Jack, though.

Living in Chicago for over twenty years, I agree about Pat Hughes. He takes some getting used to, as his style is more formal. As he says, "Pat Hughes reporting." He is overly visual, but he's also got a humorous side. Working with Harry Caray and Ron Santo, Hughes had to be the straight man to blend well with their almost overbearing personas.

Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson are on the other end of the spectrum. I'd guess they help Sox fans fall asleep during West Coast games faster than hearing the Hawk and Stoney on TV broadcasts. Steve Stone is another great broadcaster, however.

Aug 06, 2014 03:48 AM
rating: 8
 
Wyomissing

Perhaps, I may be in the minority, but Ed Farmer is my favorite current announcer. Although I'm not a White Sox fan, and in general, I'd rather listen to NL broadcasts, I'd listen to Farmer over Marty Brenneman (Cincinnati), Tom Hamilton (Cleveland), or Dan Dickerson (Detroit) any day of the week. In addition all 3 of the Ohio/MI broadcasts reach me with much more clarity at my home and in the car in NW Ohio. Farmer has a down-home, yet savvy baseball delivery that grows on you if you give him a chance.

Aug 06, 2014 06:23 AM
rating: 0
 
DrDaley

Agree on Farmer & Jackson. Ed has a HR call that is so calm you don't know which team just put one over the fence, and heaven help us if it turns the game around, you'd never know. Farmer has a sort of pleasant voice, but his approach is so lackadaisical. Don't want to listen and I like the Sox.

Aug 06, 2014 08:44 AM
rating: 1
 
Tarakas

As I was growing up, my father listened to the Cardinals games on radio every night (this was back when few games were on television). Jack Buck and Mike Shannon were a constant presence every summer evening in our house. To me, they were baseball. They were the main way one experienced baseball games.

However, I am a baseball fan because of Harry Caray. Growing up on a farm in Illinois, my father would listen to the radio as he performed work on the farm. One day, as he searched for something to listen to, his radio dial came upon Harry Caray on a Cardinals broadcast. My father did not know much about baseball, but Caray's energy and enthusiasm convinced my father that this was something he should listen to. At the end of the broadcast, Harry invited the listeners to tune in to what Harry was certain would be another great game the next day. My father tuned in the next day, and on what was I'm sure "a beautiful day for baseball," he was enthralled as Harry enthusiastically described yet another epic game. After several days of listening to Harry talk about baseball as the greatest thing in the world, my young father was convinced. Such was the power of Harry Caray that his infectious enthusiasm that long ago day bred three generations of fans in my family alone.

Aug 06, 2014 08:53 AM
rating: 4
 
username49

Tom Hamilton. Nobody brings more excitement to a baseball game than Tom Hamilton these days.

Aug 06, 2014 04:44 AM
rating: 3
 
hyprvypr

Seriously, it's not close. Hammy is the most enthusiast caller of the sport in the game today.

Aug 06, 2014 08:17 AM
rating: 2
 
indians1954

Totally agree - he should be on this list. MLB-TV uses his enthusiastic calls on their promotional ads.

Aug 06, 2014 21:45 PM
rating: 0
 
Nojsztat

Bob Uecker. I wish he called Brewers games more like the Indians games he worked in "Major League", though.

Aug 06, 2014 05:25 AM
rating: 6
 
davezahniser

The title for this article could have been, "Where Our Writers Grew-up."

Aug 06, 2014 05:35 AM
rating: 22
 
Schere

or, "Why we love the Giants' broadcasters, and some others."

Aug 06, 2014 06:04 AM
rating: 11
 
SamVan

that line of thinking almost leads me to believe that maybe I think Howie Rose is the greatest just because I listen to him all the time....but, nope, I actually ran some numbers and it turns out that Rose is, empirically, WAY better than everyone else.

Aug 06, 2014 06:45 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Russell A. Carleton
BP staff

And proud of it.

Aug 06, 2014 07:16 AM
 
boards

While I agree with your assessment, I will tune into a Giants broadcast (when they are playing a team I want to watch-I don't like the Giants) just to listen to Kuiper and Krukow. I grew up and still live in Texas so no home bias for me.

In a similar vein, as much as I enjoy Steve Stone's insight, the Hawk makes any broadcast unbearable.

Aug 06, 2014 07:23 AM
rating: 4
 
BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

Yes. Or the actual title works too.

Aug 06, 2014 09:17 AM
 
Randy Brown
(189)

I'm partial to Pepper Brooks calling dodgeball games on ESPN 8 "The Ocho".

Aug 06, 2014 06:13 AM
rating: 5
 
jnossal

I'd pay double for that kind of action, Randy.

Aug 06, 2014 12:29 PM
rating: 1
 
Wyomissing

Russell, all I can say is that was a marvelous tribute to a consistently professional announcer. Along with many other former broadcasters, Herb Score is missed.

Aug 06, 2014 06:17 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Russell A. Carleton
BP staff

Thanks. I'm probably among the last of the Clevelanders who was "raised" by Herb. May he rest gently.

Aug 06, 2014 07:29 AM
 
robustyoungsoul

Harry Kalas. We knew his Broadcast Above Replacement score was high, but I don't know that we fully appreciated just how high until he was gone and we were left with the sub par broadcasters we have in Philly now.

Aug 06, 2014 06:53 AM
rating: 2
 
Simmonds17

OK, I'll bite. There's been a lot of criticism of the Phillies revamped broadcast team this year. No need to rehash all the reasons people dislike Tom McCarthy - including the likely spurious suspicious that he's secretly a Mets fan.

But I think Jamie Moyer has been a wonderful addition to the team. Sundays with Schmidt are maybe the best broadcasts the team has done since Harry Kalas' passing. Matt Stairs needs work and is no natural, but I've seen some improvement. And as someone who has never hated T-Mac, I feel like he's gotten a lot better this year having people like Moyer to bounce ideas off of.

They're not a great crew, but I now consider Phillies telecasts be perfectly adequate if not better than that.

Aug 07, 2014 09:33 AM
rating: 0
 
Sharky

So old = good?

Aug 06, 2014 07:48 AM
rating: -1
 
chrisklug

Yeah, I gotta join some others here and call foul on the way this article played out. The comment about the article being solely a distillation of where the writers grew up is right on. I love baseball on the radio, and when the article began by mentioning Herb Score -- who I never listened to but had always heard was great -- I had high hopes. But by the time the fifth SF announcer was listed I grew very frustrated, regardless of the fact that I *do* like Jon Miller

This was a waste of a time to read. Now I'm going to pull the covers over my head and read some other more interesting web site.

Aug 06, 2014 08:05 AM
rating: -3
 
jnossal

All I can say is I was very lucky to have grown up in Detroit (hear that much?) listening to Ernie Harwell on WJR.

Aug 06, 2014 12:31 PM
rating: 1
 
tribefan204854

Ernie was very good, but the current Detroit guys are awful. They are so busy sharing anecdotes that we who want to follow the game could be listening to a rain delay.

Aug 06, 2014 18:43 PM
rating: 0
 
potterjd

Hey, Giants fans! Where's the love for Lon Simmons (if you grew up in the 60's) and the thinking man's game caller, Hank Greenwald?

Aug 06, 2014 08:13 AM
rating: 2
 
Worm51

Im so glad you mentioned this. Greenwald >>>> Krukow every day of the week and twice on Sunday. No contest.

Aug 06, 2014 12:05 PM
rating: 1
 
orlandoca7

Loved Gary Cohen (on radio, before moving to TV) & Bob Murphy. Flemming & Miller on the west coast. For what it's worth, absolute worst: Yankees' radio team.

Aug 06, 2014 08:18 AM
rating: 1
 
jardinero

Gary Cohen is really good. I'm not a Mets fan at all, but I watch them more than any other team, and it's only because of the broadcast crew.

Aug 06, 2014 08:39 AM
rating: 1
 
SamVan

it's true: it is the ONLY thing that Mets fans can hold over Yankees-- our radio guys are pretty great, and have always been, and even Yankees fans either admit or knows deep down inside that Sterling is just the worst.

Aug 06, 2014 08:41 AM
rating: 2
 
Nathan

I grew up listening to Denny Matthews in Kansas City. The sound of his voice still brings back spring evenings with the window open, a storm rolling in, and the Royals on the radio. What I love about Matthews is his deep study of the game, interesting anecdotes, and quiet nature. As a kid, a lot of announcers rubbed me the wrong way with their over-the-top and rehearsed calls. Matthews describes the game crisply, precisely, but not in too showy of a way. When emotion rings in his voice, it seems genuine, not forced, and because he isn't shouting all the time, you know when something really unusual happens. It's more like listening to a knowledgeable friend's firsthand account than a performance, and I like that. Anyway, just wanted to mention him here because he left a positive memory in my childhood, and I really appreciate his work.

Aug 06, 2014 08:33 AM
rating: 2
 
stevemillburg

Pat Hughes has a fundamental flaw that's more and more common among radio announcers: he spends half his time chatting with sidekick Ron Coomer instead of describing the game. Pat (and many other announcers) seem to think that if no hit or out occurred on a pitch, then nothing happened that's worth mentioning. It drives me nuts, especially when I hear the crowd roar but Pat never interrupts his banter with Ron to tell me why. I want to hear the result of every pitch. But broadcasters increasingly seem to view themselves as hosts of a sports talk show rather than play-by-play announcers. It's apparently a popular approach or it wouldn't be spreading. Or maybe it's not so popular. Maybe that's why Pat is "not a legend quite yet."

Aug 06, 2014 08:33 AM
rating: 2
 
DrDaley

Agree

Aug 06, 2014 08:40 AM
rating: 0
 
BrewersTT

So right. Another aspect of this is the broadcasts that bring in players' wives for more than a couple of minutes, bring in local figures of various types who have no direct relevance but who can chat for two innings, etc. You can forget what the game situation is entirely. One of the many things I love about Jon Miller is his steadfast rule to repeat the situation with every flip of an egg timer. No matter when you join the broadcast, you are quickly up to speed.

Aug 06, 2014 20:07 PM
rating: 0
 
jonjacoby

Bill White: He was the straight man to the Scooter, Phil Rizzuto's homerism and stories that were interrupted by play-by-play. How many announcers went on to become League presidents? White was the last good Yankee broadcaster (ok maybe George Grande)

Most amusing Yankee radio pair was when Charlie Steiner was doing the games w/ Sterling, they had ZERO chemistry, it sounded like they were broadcasting the games from totally separate booths with a sound mixer trying to combine the audio.

Aug 06, 2014 08:35 AM
rating: 3
 
One Flap Down

Growing up listening to and watching Yankee games in the 70s, my primary memory of the Bill White-Phil Rizutto byplay was that Rizutto always called him "White", never "Bill".

Aug 06, 2014 10:20 AM
rating: 2
 
BrianWSchoeneman

I agree 1000% with Jon Miller - I remember doing exactly the same thing growing up in the 80s. Miller was the perfect replacement for Chuck Thompson, and Angelos getting rid of him is just one more reason why most of us Baltimore fans can't wait until we get a new owner.

Aug 06, 2014 08:54 AM
rating: 2
 
Chiefsnark

This is indeed a writer's nostalgia more than anything resembling analysis. If it were analysis, he'd have had Ernie Harwell at the top of the list.

Aug 06, 2014 09:02 AM
rating: -3
 
BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

I'm genuinely curious: How do you present "analysis" on something as idiosyncratic and individual as a baseball broadcaster?

Aug 06, 2014 09:15 AM
 
BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

I should've mentioned this above, but Jon Miller does a Vin Scully impression which you can hear here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gUBuUX_YXo

Aug 06, 2014 09:19 AM
 
Grasul

I'm a Giants fan, but despite that I really do think they have the best announcers (Historical Icons excepted)

Second best and still astonishly good are the Mets announcers. Other than the week or two where they dwelled on the fired hitting coach, which was just awful, they are fabulous.

After them, the Orioles announcers are my next favorite I think.

Aug 06, 2014 09:22 AM
rating: 1
 
Taldan9
(107)

Early Winn. One year with the Blue Jays in 1977. A year of the best standup comedy on radio.

Aug 06, 2014 09:25 AM
rating: 0
 
thirteenthirteen

Little aside about Flemming and Miller's Home Run Tracker: the other day one of them misspoke and called it the Home Run TRACTOR. The Giants hit 4 home runs in the game and they had a grand old time making silly tractor noises for each one.

I love that no sponsors ever seem to mind that when they pay for Jon Miller to read their copy, he will make it sound like he's doing a parody of someone reading an advertisement.

Aug 06, 2014 09:31 AM
rating: 3
 
mabenson00

Fleming and Jon Miller are a great combo and Kuiper is pretty great (as his his brother). Krukow is like your drunk creepy uncle.

Aug 06, 2014 10:14 AM
rating: 1
 
One Flap Down

Agree with this on Krukow, he comes off as the smarmy SoCal/Marin County fifty-something type you come across in navel-gazing Hollywood films like Grand Canyon.

I always think of him as "Kookrow", which is how then-manager Preston Gomez pronounced his name when Krukow came up with the Cubs in the late 70s.

Aug 06, 2014 10:26 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Doug Thorburn
BP staff

Some folks don't like Krukow's approach, I get it, and it's too bad that his style gets in the way of the substance for some, because he is the most knowledgeable announcer in the game today when it comes to the subject of pitching. I am probably biased in that regard, as someone who focuses on pitching first and foremost, but it is rare to find an announcer who can emphasize the process on the mound rather than results.



Aug 06, 2014 11:04 AM
 
One Flap Down

Agree with RJ that Staats is a great, understated announcer who is kind of the Pat Summerall of baseball.

But Staats does have one weird quirk: he doesn't like to use the word "balls" when it comes to discussing balls and strikes; instead he calls them "non-strikes", something I don't think I've ever heard another baseball announcer do on a regular basis. It's not like he never says "balls", but he clearly prefers the term "non-strikes". No idea if he's being prudish or what the motivation is here.

Aug 06, 2014 10:18 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member R.J. Anderson
BP staff

That's a good comparison. Honestly, I never noticed the non-strikes quirk. Maybe I've just grown numb to it? (Now that you've mentioned it I'll hear it every time he says it.)

Aug 06, 2014 11:42 AM
 
One Flap Down

He mostly uses it when discussing a pitcher's ball/strike ratio, and usually that comes up when a pitcher is throwing an inordinate number of balls (er, non-strikes). He won't say "three non-strikes and two strikes on Loney" for example, but when the discussion goes beyond the count on the batter he uses it quite a bit.

Aug 06, 2014 13:24 PM
rating: 0
 
The Beef

Paul O'Neil is the most entertaining color guy for me. If Paulie is working, I'm watching the entire game.

John Flaherty is very technically sound and a big proponent of BP information.

Buck O'Neil was just straight butter on the mic.

Aug 06, 2014 10:23 AM
rating: -1
 
Manprin
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

It's disappointing Baseball Prospectus did not even attempt to offer a panel or discussion with multiple viewpoints of the same broadcasters - rather relying on one person per talking head.
To that end, any list that includes Kuiper and Krukow is not a list worth considering as relevant. They are horrible and even Giants fans mute the TV to listen to the radio broadcast.

Aug 06, 2014 10:46 AM
rating: -5
 
jayman4

I am a Padres fan living in Bay Area. Those guys are OK but I guess it is the way broadcasters are supposed to be, but I find them pretty biased in their announcing.

Ball is called a strike, Giants pitching: taking what the ump is giving him, or painting the corner, or a pitchers' strike, nice pitch, etc.

Ball is called a strike, Giants batting: not sure about this zone, that's really tough for so & so, taking the bat out of is hands, etc.

Kind of expect it when watching broadcasts but did not expect them to show up on this list.

Aug 06, 2014 11:41 AM
rating: 0
 
patrickbulford

Another Cleveland fan raised by Herb Score here. As much as I loved him. I actually prefer Tom Hamilton. I can listen to him call any game any time. I don't know if he still does it, but I even enjoyed when he was calling Big Ten basketball games. Whatever is is going on, a big play or a terrible mistake, by either the Indians or their opponent, he lets you know it and feel it. He can give me goose bumps seemingly on demand. Baseball FTW

Aug 06, 2014 11:23 AM
rating: 0
 
Nojsztat

I always appreciate it when David Cone slips some WAR or FIP related knowledge into his color commentary. He usually references FanGraphs, though. BP should give him a complimentary subscription.

Aug 06, 2014 11:49 AM
rating: 1
 
okteds

Holy Toledo!!! No mention of Bill King? Growing up in the Bay Area in the mid-80's, this man ushered me into the world of baseball. At first, baseball was a daily interruption I put up with while listening to the oldies station, but pretty soon, I was a die-hard A's fan, and Bill King was no small part of that. From the age of 7-18, I probably heard his voice more than any other person in my life, save my parents, and it wasn't until he passed away in 2005 that I fully realized the impact he had on me.

Who else would even dream of uttering "Not in your wildest alcoholic nightmare would you ever imagine such events unfolding!"

Aug 06, 2014 11:55 AM
rating: 6
 
jrfukudome

Pat Hughes is awesome. Always bet on the voice.

Aug 06, 2014 12:07 PM
rating: 0
 
Worm51

I'm so glad no one mentioned Jack Buck. He was so grossly overrated, I'm constantly amazed at the deification he receives from the media. Just brutal.

I know it's a strange choice, but I always secretly enjoyed Hawk and Wimpy for the Sox. They were such over-the-top homers that it became comical. I'd rather get overt homerism than the subtle, "Im-not-really-a-homer" BS that you get from guys like Ray Fosse.

Aug 06, 2014 12:10 PM
rating: 0
 
kmbart

I'm halfway between Philadelphia and Baltimore, and the Mets and Nationals broadcasts make it this far as well, so I've heard a lot of different announcers in my 57 years. Harry Kalas was the best, with Jon Miller a step behind (a small step). Gary Cohen is very, very good, but almost without exception the rest of the guys I've listened to were bad. Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews (now mercifully gone) and Tom McCarthy of the Phillies, Bob Murphy of the Mets, and especially Bob Carpenter and Johnny Holliday of the Nationals are/were all torture to the ears, seemingly without knowledge of the game, and worst of all - boring. Thank goodness for the MUTE button ....

Aug 06, 2014 12:16 PM
rating: 0
 
JoeTetreault

Grew up in southern New England and heard Ned Martin call more Red Sox games than I can recall. Steady and a pro. Lots of New Englanders from my generation swear by Ken Coleman or Joe Castiglione on the radio, but Martin calling the games on TV was more to my taste.

Aug 06, 2014 12:21 PM
rating: 1
 
wockenfuss

Moved to Boston in 1992, and tuning into Castiglione (and Trupiano) was like listening to a buzzsaw after a lifetime of Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey. Ouch.

Aug 06, 2014 17:00 PM
rating: 1
 
R.A.Wagman

Having purchased the MLB At Bat fr the past few years, I can honestly say that Jon Miller is the most enjoyable radio guy around. Growing up I was privileged to be able to listen to Tom Cheek on a daily basis. Unfortunately, not all legends fade away, some die.

Aug 06, 2014 12:30 PM
rating: 0
 
thsaladboy

I know that baseball announcer listings are going to be biased, because obviously you watch/listen to your team's games more than other teams, but this article really is pointless as anything but a list of which teams various writers were fans of or grew up listening to. Would BP ever publish an article that was "the second best ballplayers of our lifetimes behind Barry Bonds" and just have a bunch of people stumping for the guy they grew up watching? For the seemingly large number of current BP authors that are Giants fans, would the article just somehow be paean after paean to Will Clark, or would it be cut with some As love for Rickey Henderson? This was just silly.

Aug 06, 2014 12:50 PM
rating: -1
 
gweedoh565

"...but this article really is pointless as anything but a list of which teams various writers were fans of or grew up listening to."

That's exactly what the article purports to be. The title is "Our Favorite Broadcasters (Non-Vin Scully Edition)".

Aug 06, 2014 14:02 PM
rating: 2
 
thsaladboy
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I don't know, when I clicked on the link I expected something other than a list of broadcasters the writers grew up with. The just seems to me to be the epitome of lazy writing.

Aug 06, 2014 15:39 PM
rating: -6
 
R.A.Wagman

Not as lazy as making disparaging comments that clearly reflect that you didn't read the title of this piece, nor have you noticed that every single one of the Lineup Card articles are non-analytical and deal with things of value to the writers.

Aug 06, 2014 17:55 PM
rating: 3
 
hyprvypr

If this list is about some of the best announcers of all-time, it's completely overlooked one of the best, Dave Neihaus. He's practically a legend in the NW.

Aug 06, 2014 12:58 PM
rating: 1
 
markj111

What? No Chip Caray or John Sterling?

Aug 06, 2014 13:57 PM
rating: 1
 
jrfukudome

Chip Carey was a major incentive to mute the TV and listen to Hughes and Santo instead.

Aug 06, 2014 14:08 PM
rating: 1
 
gecko1

All of the Giants announcers are fine, albeit overrated. Especially Jon Miller. I've always found him a touch difficult to listen to as he frequently gets the emphasis wrong. STRIKE TWO! And then a bit later. mumble, mumble strike three, mumble.

Meanwhile across the bay Ken Korach might be the most unappreciated play by play guy around. He's really good.

Aug 06, 2014 14:40 PM
rating: 1
 
Llarry

I grew up in New England in the late '70s, early '80s, so I don't have really strong memories of the announcers. Bob Montgomery was pretty good, and Hawk wasn't yet the full-fledged whatever-he-is-in-Chicago. Generally the announcers were serviceable, if uninspiring (Dick Stockton, anyone?). I have much stronger memories of Fred Cusick and Johnny Peirson calling Bruins games.

When I moved to Arizona in the '90s, I started watching more Cubs games on WGN, and came to appreciate Steve Stone. Harry Caray was winding down, and Stoney could mostly keep him on track. Then, when Harry would go lie down for the middle innings, Stone might stay on color when Thom (I'M ANNOUNCING BASEBALL AS IF IT'S WWE!) Brenneman came over, or he'd do play-by-play with someone else, or just go solo for three innings. Lately, he has impressed me with his ability to keep Hawk at least somewhat under control. Not easy, that...

Aug 06, 2014 15:49 PM
rating: 1
 
oldbopper

I know this is the non-Vin Scully edition, but I could not fail to say that I listened to his first season on WOR in New York, selling Schaefer Beer on channel 9, and I go to bed with him now, hawking Farmer John, on MLB Extra Innings. Many, I am sure, were thrilled to hear he is returning for an amazing 66th season but no one more so than me. I am a dyed in the wool Red Sox fan but even more a fan of baseball and Vin Scully has always been and still is a big part of it.

Aug 06, 2014 17:46 PM
rating: 3
 
EROICA

The best two Radio guys? By Saum and "there it goes! a long drive! It's it's ahh caught at the warning track" Bill Campbell. Go Phils!!!!

Aug 06, 2014 19:53 PM
rating: 0
 
radarbinder

Here's to Joe Nuxhall, the youngest major league player ever and a lefthanded starter and reliever for a total of 16 years. He was a better than average pitcher, a much better than average hitter (for a pitcher) and then, after ending his career after 1966, found his way to the Red's broadcast team.

Joe worked with a few partners, Thom Brenneman being last. Some guys were looking to use Cincy ad a stepping stone. But Joe loved his Reds. Joe didn't sing like John Sterling or be loudly shocked and annoyed like Hawk Harrelson. He was just classy. After the game, the star of the game and summary came the words I always loved to hear, "This is the old lefthander, rounding third and heading for home." From his first game at age 15 in 1944 to his last in 1966, Nuxhall was a sponge for good stories but not a repository for unkind words. He was the consummate good guy who also happened to both play and broadcast baseball very well.

Aug 06, 2014 21:33 PM
rating: 1
 
temple

I think Pat Hughes is a genius. When you are a Cub fan, you need more than the game. You need humor to keep from crying. Pat Hughes is able to play off his color commentator better than any announcer that I've ever heard. When he was with Ron Santo for years, Pat could transform Santo's dumb comments into something humorous. He never quite got the chemistry with Keith Moreland and not yet with Coomer. But Santo and Pat with their chat about Ron's number 2 toupee or the ketchup that Ron dripped on his shirt, they were able to make us forget the score. I've been listening to Cub radio broadcasts since1960 when i got my first transistor radio. And I have to repeat Vince Lloyd's line from the end of most games, "I hope you enjoyed the broadcast if not the outcome of this game." And that has been the mission statement for every Cub broadcaster since the time of Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau --- to make the game bearable by making the game only part of the broadcast.

Aug 06, 2014 22:48 PM
rating: 1
 
Peter Benedict

My favorite duo will get me some downvotes, but I fell in love with baseball during the Dbacks' opening seasons, and Thom Brennaman and Bob Brenly were a joy to me. I enjoyed their banter, their observations, and even their screen time on occasion.

Aug 07, 2014 08:44 AM
rating: 0
 
therealn0d

Having listened to them over that same stretch, I'm fine with it. It was certainly better than listening to the radio side where you could hear the sound of the ball hitting the backstop while they were in the middle of some stupid story and you were left wondering "what's the count?"

Aug 08, 2014 15:56 PM
rating: -1
 
Simmonds17

Put the Cubs PBP guy Len Kasper with Mets color man Ron Darling, and I think that'd be the best crew you could put together of today's announcers.

Aug 07, 2014 09:37 AM
rating: -1
 
twodaves

I cringe a bit at posting a negative comment, but as I've said before Vin Scully is a bore to listen to. I sounds like he's reading out of a program. Unless you grew up listening to Scully as a child so there's the nostalgia factor I don't know why people think so highly of him.

Aug 09, 2014 09:09 AM
rating: 1
 
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