The best baseball announcers

17

August

Longtime Yankees announcer Phil "Scooter'' Rizzuto died this week, joining other legendary announcers in that big press box in heaven, announcers such as Mel Allen, Red Barber, Russ Hodges, Bob Prince, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray and Jack Buck.

There aren't many legends left, but there are some. Here's my look at 10 legendary baseball announcers who are still active.

Scully_2  Vin Scully
Los Angeles Dodgers

This smooth-as-silk voice has been calling games since 1958 and just might be the best who has ever done it. Even now, at age 79, Scully is a master, weaving nostalgia, trivia and insider information all the while never losing track of the game at hand. And he does it with a vocabulary and style that is deep, as well as dramatic without ever being over the top. His sense of timing and knack of picking exactly the right word are practically flawless. What makes him remarkable is he is considered the best yet never really had a signature call.

Harry Kalas
Philadelphia Phillies

Calling the Phils since 1971, Kalas is not always the smoothest, but his nearly out-of-breath, got-to-squeeze-in-two-more-words style makes him a fan favorite. Also, we can still hear him passing out his postgame awards: "That's a case of Tastykakes for Michael Jack Schmidt.''

Eucker Bob Uecker
Milwaukee Brewers

Juuuust a bit outside. From his classic scenes in Major League to his hysterical interviews with Johnny Carson to his Lite beer commercials ("I must be sitting in the front row!''), Uecker — who humorously dubbed himself Mr. Baseball — has become a national cult favorite. But, you know, he is also one of the best broadcasters in the business, as any longtime Brewers fan will tell you. His trademark is his deadpan comedic delivery ("A couple of grand slammers and the Brewers are right back in this thing,'' he once said during a game in which Milwaukee trailed 8-0). But he also can call dramatic victories, too, with his own special flair.

Skip Caray
Atlanta Braves

Nothing was ever better than listening to Skip back when the Braves were just awful in the 1980s. If the Braves were getting pummeled late in the game, he started talking about what movie was on after the game. His sarcastic wit probably mirrored what the fans were thinking at home. Eventually, the Braves became good — really good, yet Caray never changed. He remains a solid announcer, nothing like the caricature his father, Harry, became, but a meat-and-potatoes announcer with that same dry humor.

Milo Hamilton
Houston Astros

Best remembered for calling Hank Aaron's 715th homer as a Braves broadcaster in 1974. Hamilton has bounced around the majors, starting with the Braves in 1966, moving on to replace the legendary Bob Prince in 1976, then onto the Cubs and eventually to Houston, where he has been the Astros' lead play-by-play guy since 1987. "Holy Toledo, what a play,''’ is his signature call.

Denny Matthews
Kansas City Royals

Has been calling Royals games since their inception in 1969. Baseball historian Bill James once wrote: "His voice has a pleasant timbre, which suggests a cheerful occasion. His inflection varies naturally so it's neither falsely enthusiastic nor boring. He has a dry, understated humor that drifts through much of his audience undetected. One cannot learn these things at a microphone; they are given.''

Harwell Ernie Harwell
Detroit Tigers

No longer a full-time announcer,  Harwell still comes out of retirement here and there to call a few innings. If we don't count Harwell, we certainly have a good replacement for the list: Ralph Kiner, who has been calling Mets games since the inaugural 1962 season. Sounds like the guy at the corner bar in occasional appearances, but that's his charm.

Lon Simmons
San Francisco Giants

Simmons has been yelling, "Tell it goodbye'' for most of the past 50 years. Simmons started calling Giants games way back when the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. He became a bay area icon, also calling games for the Oakland A's from 1981 to 1995, as well as San Francisco 49ers games. Inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame, Simmons remains a part-time announcer for the Giants.

Marty Brennaman
Cincinnati Reds

When you think of the Big Red Machine, you think Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench … and those in Cincinnati also think of the broadcast team of Joe Nuxhall and Marty Brennaman, who replaced a guy named Al Michaels as the Reds announcer in 1974. "Marty and Joe'' became an institution. In the glory days, fans of the Reds would always hear Brennaman say, "And this one belongs to the Reds.''

Jerry Coleman
San Diego Padres

Coleman, who has been calling the Padres for every year but one since 1972, is known almost more for his flubs than anything else. For example, "Rich Folkers is throwing up in the bullpen,'' and "McCovey swings and misses and it's fouled back,'' and "Johnny Grubb slides into second with a standup double,'' and, the best of all, "Hi, folks, I'm Jerry Reuss. No, I'm not. I'm Jerry Coleman.''

Staats Dewayne Staats
Tampa Bay Devil Rays

One more … We have to add the Devil Rays' announcer to the list. Staats, on the left with partner Joe Magrane, often doesn't get mentioned among the legends even though he has been calling games for 31 years and has called more than 4,000. That's probably because he hasn't spent the majority of his career with just one team. Staats has called games for the Astros, Cubs, Yankees and now the Rays. We still love every time he says, " … a wave and a miss.''

[Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 3:40pm]

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