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July 23, 2012

Pebble Hunting

30 Teams, 30 Home Run Calls

by Sam Miller

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Every so often you’ll hear some stupid fact about genetic similarities between humans and, like, pigs. Did you know that humans and pigs share 90 percent of DNA, according to unreliable sources on the Internet? See, you just heard a stupid fact about genetic similarities between humans and pigs. It happens every so often, if you hang around me.

Broadcasters are like that. They all share most of the same DNA. They say mostly the same words, and they say them with mostly the same inflection, and they know mostly the same things. It’s those few percent that differ that separate them, and those few percent that differ make a very big difference.

One way that DNA splits is in home run calls. Each broadcaster has his own home run call, and even the ones who don’t have a specific call that they’ve honed over time do tend to have patterns. The home run calls show far, far more variety than groundout-to-second calls, and time-for-a-pitching-change calls, and Aflac-trivia calls.

Okay, then, let’s look at home run calls. What follow are 30 calls, one for each team's TV broadcast team. Attached to each are:

  • Category. There are six categories. They are Shouters, Homers, Downplayers, Catchphrasers, Growlers, and Moderates. Shouters shout. Downplayers stay calm. Homers have calls that are not just excited but unthinkable from anybody but a home-team broadcaster. Catchphrasers say the same thing every time, and it is either unique or said in a unique way. Growlers are notable for adding a little rumble or rev to their voices. Moderates are hard to say much about.  
  • Time to acknowledgment is the time it takes from contact for it to become clear that this is likely going to be a home run. This is extremely subjective. Extremely. It is basically the moment I identified a significant lift in the voice.
  • Volume. Oh, man, more subjectivity.
  • Moment of glory: The words that come out of each announcer's mouth at the home run’s climactic breach of the wall.
  • And notes, where relevant.

Note: I wanted these home runs to have consistent significance, so all home runs came with a two-run margin or less, in the seventh inning or earlier. If I misidentified any of these broadcasters, or picked an unrepresentative call, email or let me know in the comments. I did listen to multiple calls for each, but mistakes slip in. 

Victor Rojas (Angels)
Catchphraser

Time to acknowledgment: 0.9 seconds
Volume: 9
Key phrase: Big fly!
Notes: Rojas loves home runs. He might love home runs more than anybody on this list. He knows home runs are very fun, that they are the reason we’re all here in the first place, and he has fun with them. He calls them Oppo Tacos, which doesn’t make any literal sense or figurative sense but if you just think home runs are fun and we’re all having fun here then it makes its own kind of sense. He also calls them three-run Jimmy Jacks. Those are specific home runs, though. The standard home run is just this: Big Fly!

Glen Kuiper (A’s)
Catchphraser

Time to acknowledgment: 1.2 seconds
Volume: 8
Key phrase: That baby is gone!

Bill Brown (Astros)
Downplayer

Time to acknowledgment: 4.4 seconds
Volume: 7
Key phrase: ...gives it a looong ride.

Buck Martinez (Blue Jays)
Growler

Time to acknowledgment: 2.1 seconds
Volume: 4
Key phrase: Home run. 
Notes: Commenter notes that "Buck Martinez frequently uses 'And you can forget about this one... HOME RUN!'"

Chip Caray (Braves)
Growler

Time to acknowledgment: 4.5 seconds
Volume: 8
Key phrase: Gone!
Notes: Subtle growl on "Pagan." 

Brian Anderson (Brewers)
Moderate

Time to acknowledgment: 3.9 seconds
Volume: 7
Key phrase: There she goes!
Notes: The only announcer to give the baseball a gender. 

Dan McLaughlin (Cardinals)
Shouter

Time to acknowledgment: 3.6
Volume: 8
Key phrase: To the track, to the wall, it’s gone!

Len Kasper (Cubs)
Moderate

Time to acknowledgment: 2.4 seconds
Volume: 6
Key phrase: It’s gone.
Notes: By far the most common phrase is "it's gone" or a variation of "it's gone." Fourteen of our announcers use "it's gone." I believe five say the words "home run" in the main portion of their call. 

Greg Schulte (Diamondbacks)
Downplayer

Time to acknowledgment: 4.6 seconds
Volume: 5
Key phrase: It is gone.

Vin Scully (Dodgers)
Downplayer

Time to acknowledgment: 3.9 seconds
Volume: 3
Key phrase: Home run.
Notes: I believe the reason Vin Scully is so beloved is that he is delighted by baseball but does not believe it actually matters or that he should pretend it actually matters for the sake of theater. He just describes the home run, with some texture to his voice but without knocking over any furniture. 

Duane Kuiper (Giants)
Homer

Time to acknowledgment: 2.8 seconds
Volume: 10
Key phrase: Ooooutta heeere!
Notes: Kuiper isn’t much of a homer the rest of the time. He’s actually laid back, almost laconic, but then a ball gets on one of those promising parabolas and Kuiper comes alive with the most explosive home run call in the sport. The subtext here is obvious, and it goes like this: “When I hit a home run it was a very big deal. When anybody hits a home run, then, it is a very big deal. I hope somebody got it on tape." 

Matt Underwood (Indians)
Shouter

Time to acknowledgment: 0.2 seconds
Volume: 9
Key phrase: Gooooooooooooone
Notes: There are announcers who are afraid of starting a home run call and having it turn out to be a routine fly ball. Matt Underwood is not. Underwood actually has a catch phrase, one that he does not use every time but that he does use some of the time: "Gone to Souvenir City." Really!

Dave Sims (Mariners)
Growler

Time to acknowledgment: 3.5 seconds
Volume: 6
Key phrase: It’s gawn!
Notes: Turns “drive” into a growl. Also “got,” and a little bit to “carry.” And “gone” becomes “gawn.” I love the growlers. 

Rich Waltz (Marlins)
Growler

Time to acknowledgment: 3.1 seconds
Volume: 5
Key phrase: Outta here.
Notes: Growl on “look” and “go.” Love the growlers. 

Gary Cohen (Mets)
Shouter

Time to acknowledgment: 1.2 seconds
Volume: 8
Key phrase: It’s outta here. 
Notes: Cohen transitions from from normal speaking voice to home run banana-going very quickly. It almost sounds like he has been interrupted in the booth by an unstable man with a much higher voice. 

Bob Carpenter (Nationals)
Catchphraser

Time to acknowledgment: 1.1 seconds
Volume: 5
Key phrase: See. You. Later!
Notes: The execution of this one is strong, and he sells it well. It makes me a little uncomfortable by invoking Jack Buck's famous "See you tomorrow night" call. "See ya later" wouldn't make me feel this way, but the punctuation of the catchphrase gives each home run a sense of finality, as though it is a walk-off. This is a very picky criticism of it, though. 

Gary Thorne (Orioles)
Catchphraser

Time to acknowledgment: 0.9 seconds
Volume: 4
Key phrase: Goodbye: home run!

Dick Enberg (Padres)
Catchphraser

Time to acknowledgment: 3.5 seconds
Volume: 6
Key phrase: Alonso will touch ‘em all.

Tom McCarthy (Phillies)
Moderate

Acknowledgment: 4.5 seconds
Volume: 7
Key phrase: Gone!
Notes: The volume on gone nearly pushes him to shouter, or homer. 

Tim Neverett (Pirates)
Downplayer

Time to acknowledgment: 5.0 seconds
Volume: 2
Key phrase: It’s gone. 
Notes: Commenter suggests Neverett is, in other instances, a shouter.

Dave Barnett (Rangers)
Downplayer

Time to acknowledgment: 5.4 seconds
Volume: 3
Key phrase: ...sail out of here.
Notes: Probably no announcer takes longer to say the first word after a home run is struck. This works (in my opinion), because it lets the hum of the crowd grow. To the viewer, then, the home run is not birthed in one split-second, but becomes evident over the course of a few moments, covering various terrains: surprise, then optimism, then anticipation, then reality. Like love! Dave Barnett uses each home run to tell us a tiny story about love and happiness.  Or possibly Barnett just doesn’t want anybody to know a home run was hit. 

DeWayne Staats (Rays)
Moderate

Time to acknowledgment: 5.3 seconds
Volume: 5
Key phrase: Gone. A home run. 

Thom Brennaman (Reds)
Homer

Time to acknowledgment: 4.0 seconds
Volume: 4
Key phrase: And this baby will fly a long way, brother.
Notes: While he is saying this, Chris Welsh is moaning “ohhh baby.” Also, Thom Brennaman does not have a brother.

Don Orsillo (Red Sox)
Downplayer

Time to acknowledgment: 1.3 seconds
Volume: 2
Key phrase: That ball is gone. 

Drew Goodman (Rockies)
Moderate

Time to acknowledgment: 4.7 seconds
Volume: 5
Key phrase: See ya later.
Notes: Goodman varies his call more than anybody I heard. He often says things that sound like they would be catchphrases, but then doesn’t return to them. And he says a lot of exclamatory things that are specific to the situation. “Take a good look, you won’t see it for long,” he hollered during a Wilin Rosario home run. “Home run drought over!” when Carlos Gonzalez went yard. “One by one, long ball by long ball,” when Tyler Colvin hit a solo shot. Home run calls are not, to Goodman, something that can be practiced, but only lived.

Steve Physioc (Royals)
Moderate

Acknowledgment: 1.6 seconds
Volume: 7
Key phrase: That baby’s gone. 

Mario Impemba (Tigers)
Downplayer

Time to acknowledgment: 5.4 seconds
Volume: 3
Key phrase: Gone, a home run. 

Dick Bremer (Twins)
Moderate

Time to acknowledgment: 1.9 seconds
Volume: 6
Key phrase: Up. Back. And gone. 
Notes: Up. Back. And gone is not a catchphrase, but it has a nice meter and a lot of strong consonants. 

Hawk Harrelson (White Sox)
Homer

Time to acknowledgment: 1.2 seconds
Volume: 8
Key phrase: ...ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooard yeeeeeeeeee yes
Notes: Every day, Hawk Harrelson calls his bookie. He bets every dollar he has, the life of one of his six children, and possession of his soul, on the White Sox to win. When you hear Hawk Harrelson screaming at the ball to “stay fair, stay fair” you are hearing the desperate negotiation between a degenerate and his God. 

Michael Kay (Yankees)
Catchphraser

Time to acknowledgment: 6.8 seconds
Volume: 5
Key phrase: Sssssee ya!
Notes: The extra "s" on See Ya turns this into a catch phrase. 

And, as a bonus, we have this terrifically bad home run call: a guy's Twitter name.

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

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

BP Comment Quick Links

John Geer
(44)

Sam, the work you do with embedded video is outstanding. I really enjoy your articles, and seeing stuff I miss around the league.

Also, Bob Carpenter is known for frequently getting giddy and prematurely starting his home run calls on routine fly balls. Anyone else on this list guilty of the same? (Orioles broadcaster Jim Hunter does the same thing, but they may actually be the same person)

Jul 23, 2012 04:18 AM
rating: 2
 
Sharky

Spot on. Keep up the great work!

Jul 23, 2012 04:38 AM
rating: 1
 
kcshankd

The Royals drive me nuts b/c they have had approx 426 TV announcers the past five years. Pick someone and stick with them forcryingoutloud.

Jul 23, 2012 04:42 AM
rating: 1
 
lloyd75

Coshun only does the Brewers telecast on Sundays. Brian Anderson is the normal guy.

Jul 23, 2012 04:51 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

Yes, ok, thank you.

Jul 23, 2012 06:23 AM
 
SaberTJ

Tom Underwood does not exist. It is Matt Underwood. Although I would imagine that Tom Underwood would be be better than Matt any day of the week.

Jul 23, 2012 05:56 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

Tom Underwood used to exist (and pitch for five major-league teams), but you're right, he doesn't broadcast Indians games. Fixed.

Jul 23, 2012 06:03 AM
 
gweedoh565

Minor correction: for the Reds call, that is not Thom's father, Marty, but Chris Welsh uttering "Ohhhh baby" in the background. Regardless, creepy.

Jul 23, 2012 07:09 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

Thank you. The amount of "Baby" that gets said in these calls just makes me all around uncomfortable.

Jul 23, 2012 07:22 AM
 
mdangelfan

Nobody will ever top the great, late, and thoroughly drunk Harry Carey.

"It might be! It could be! IT IS!"

Jul 23, 2012 07:43 AM
rating: 1
 
Nick Wernham

Great article, Sam. I'd just like to add that Buck Martinez frequently uses "And you can forget about this one... HOME RUN !"

Jul 23, 2012 07:49 AM
rating: 0
 
Shaun P.
(676)

I loved this article! Sam, I would bet money that you structured it by team names instead of cities so that Hawk and the scourge of Yankee Fans everywhere came in last.

I know this was TV broadcasts, but I am slightly disappointed that the worst home run caller of them all was not included on the list. Its pretty sad when a broadcaster is well known for not only his insanely cheesy, total homer calls - though occasionally, some are amusing, at least the first time - but especially his frequently wrong calls. If anyone doesn't know who I'm describing, let me just say this:

"It is high! It is far! It is . . ." (10 second pause) "caught in front of the wall."

Jul 23, 2012 08:45 AM
rating: 4
 
paulproia

Horrible in that all of the homer home run calls are scripted in advance. What's the point if you already know what's going to be said?

Worst broadcaster ever.

Jul 23, 2012 16:38 PM
rating: 1
 
briant1
(778)

Sam, you've done a great job describing the level of homerism on display by Hawk Harrelson on a daily basis. The only thing I can add is that he somehow tries to make EVERY White Sox home run sound like Hank Aaron's 715th. And it's not an act. It's truly that important to him.

Jul 23, 2012 08:46 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

As someone who has - ahem - heard a few home run calls (and as someone who thought of writing this same article before - thanks, Sam!), nicely done.

I don't know if this is controversial or not because I know Michael Kay isn't considered a good announcer overall, but his "See ya!" is the best call in baseball. It's quick, simple, works in all cases, and he does it for both teams, not just the Yankees. Now, anything he might say after "See ya!" isn't great, but that's not part of the call.

Also, I'm a big fan of Matt Underwood's "Gone to souvenir city!" I wish he did it more often, but I understand how it has to be a homer-call.

Jul 23, 2012 09:01 AM
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

My top three would probably be Sims, Cohen and (by a wide margin) Duane Kuiper. Duane Kuiper's get me revved up like a televangelist.

Jul 23, 2012 09:08 AM
 
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

Does anyone know if there's another TV guy for the Mariners that regularly makes HR calls? Because I seem to recall noticing two very different calls being used on a regular basis for them (and I'm pretty sure it's been since Niehaus' passing).

I like Kuiper's a lot too, but I tend to appreciate the understated more. Sometimes those shouters sound a bit forced ("hey, alright, we're only down 15-2 now!). Also, like I said, I think the fact that Kay can and does use his for both teams adds a lot to it.

Jul 23, 2012 09:16 AM
 
BP staff member Bill Parker
BP staff

Sims and Rick Rizzs (whose catchphrase is "goodbye baseball!") used to alternate, IIRC, but for the last year or so I think it's been Sims 100% TV, Rizzs 100% radio.

Jul 23, 2012 09:21 AM
 
nolansdad

Rizzs got a few days on TV again recently with Sims going to radio for a fwe, but that is the regular set up, yes.

Jul 23, 2012 12:27 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

I'm biased, as a Giants fan, but it's the best.

Jul 23, 2012 09:35 AM
 
BP staff member Larry Granillo
BP staff

One more, since I've seen literally thousands of these in the last couple of years: I think I'd call Goodman's "Take a good look, you won't see it for long!" call a catchphrase. I'm not sure how often he uses it, but it's certainly one that I can hear in my head almost perfectly. He might use it a little less often than Underwood's "Gone to souvenir city!"...

Jul 23, 2012 09:47 AM
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

You're the expert. I watched probably 15 or 20 of his to try to get a read on him and that was the only time I heard "take a good look"

Jul 23, 2012 10:11 AM
 
apbadogs

As much as I hate Hawk Harrelson every time I watch a game with the White Sox I find myself shouting right along with him...You cannnnnn put it on the boarrddddd...YESSS!

Jul 23, 2012 09:03 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Bill Parker
BP staff

There are probably pills you can take for that.

Jul 23, 2012 09:27 AM
 
kddean

I am not a Sox fan but live in Chicago and hear Hawk a lot. I don't understand the amount of vitriol towards him.
Ok he's a homer, who cares? He's not on national TV, he's the Sox broadcaster, should he be completely dispassionate?
Oh wait, it's ok if it's Duane Kuiper but not Hawk?

I don't get it.

Jul 23, 2012 11:54 AM
rating: 0
 
Schere

It's all there for Harrelson - he's loud, he's a huge homer, he's not perceptive, he doesn't tell entertaining stories, and he never shuts up. Other that that, he's fine.

Jul 23, 2012 12:55 PM
rating: 5
 
GrinnellSteve

I have a 23-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome. Like everyone in our house, she is an avid Sox fan. Whenever something good happens in our daily lives, it is followed by,"You can put it on the board, yyyyesssss!!!!" and a fist bump. We live our lives with enthusiasm at our house.

Hawk with a good partner, such as Steve Stone or Tom Paciorek, is great.

Jul 23, 2012 09:33 AM
rating: 3
 
jfranco77

I think Tim Neverett (Pirates) is a shouter. Not crazy, but definitely excitable. Try this one:

http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=23250083&topic_id=8879096&c_id=pit

Jul 23, 2012 09:41 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

That's a great highlight.

Jul 23, 2012 10:15 AM
 
jeller5

Vin gives the baseballs a gender as well. "she is gone"/"she is outta here". Most famously in Gibson's home run "High fly ball into right field..she is gone!"

Jul 23, 2012 10:18 AM
rating: 0
 
navarred

Charlie Slowes used to catchphrase with "Bang! Zoom go the fireworks", which my wife found terribly annoying. Thankfully, it got too dangerous during a dry summer or too expensive with Werth's contract and they stopped shooting off the fireworks, so Charlie doesn't annoy my wife anymore.

http://natsnewsnetworkoffthefield.blogspot.com/2011/04/no-more-bang-zoom-go-fireworks.html

Jul 23, 2012 11:50 AM
rating: 0
 
Brock Dahlke

There is no way Dick Bremer can be called a moderate, I have heard him practically scream about a home run to get the twins within 8 before, and almost sounds like he is going to cry when an opponent hits one, he definitely needs to be called a homer if not a screamer

Jul 23, 2012 15:27 PM
rating: 0
 
leites

"I believe the reason Vin Scully is so beloved is that he is delighted by baseball but does not believe it actually matters or that he should pretend it actually matters for the sake of theater."

Yes, this!

Jul 23, 2012 15:45 PM
rating: 0
 
greenengineer

I know you don't get to embed the video, but we need a similar analysis for radio. The radio guys tend to stick around a lot longer, and have more idiosyncratic calls.

Jul 24, 2012 09:30 AM
rating: 0
 
Gotribe31

Love...LOVE the Hawk description. Agree with the above comment, need to do this for radio announcers too. Tom Hamilton (Indians radio guy) is much, much better than Underwood, and I'd rather non-Cleveland baseball fans have a representation from Hammy rather than Underwood.

Jul 24, 2012 13:44 PM
rating: 0
 
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