Friday 5 – Play-By-Play Announcers

Alright, we have our first ever Friday 5 from Mr. Wright, who you all may remember from his weekly posts that I put up during the NFL season, with both his Bettor’s Guides and the Power Rankings. He did a top five Play-By-Play announcers list on his site, and told me I should feel free to re-post it over here. So here it is:

My Top 5 Play-By-Play Announcers Of All-Time
M.D. Wright
1.29.10

***EDITOR’S NOTE: New series of favorites — as we move up to the broadcast booth and pick the favorites there.

Mind you, I am not excluding the Tom Brookshires and Don Criquis of the world, but I can only speak on the 25+ years that I have been watching sports. So I will stick with what I know and not who I’ve only HEARD ABOUT.

Without further adieu, here is my Top 5 Favorite Play-By-Play Announcers of All-Time (that is, 1979-Present ha). Also, this list is about guys I’ve actually listened to regularly or nearly daily on local stations or during network TV. Guys like Vin Scully, who I’ve only heard call 30+ games and other legends like that are not being ignored, I am doing this for the purposes of highlighting the guys who I actually hear most — and not agreeing with everyone who likes to do a Who’s Who list of icons and legends in the broadcasting booth.
5. VERNE LUNDQUIST.
OLD MAN LUNDQUIST. He is a personal favorite of mine, because he called some pretty memorable NFL games in the late 80s/early 90s, which were the HALCYON DAYS of the NFL if you ask me and anyone else 30 and over. I also love him on his calls with Bill Raftery during the NCAA tournament. They call Verne “The Golden Throat” and his calls are definitely perfect for NFL football and MARCH MADNESS.

4. AL MICHAELS.
Forget the 1980 USA win over Russia and that “Do you believe in miracles? YESSS!!!” call. I don’t care about that and it pre-dates my memory. But Al Michaels has been the lead voice for Monday Night Football since Howard Cosell retired in 1986 and that’s that.

He is synonymous with this VINTAGE MNF intro:

That still gets my blood pumping and causes goosebumps in many NFL nostalgics. When you heard that tune, Al was coming in with what seemed like (to us NFL junkies) groundbreaking news as we had our Monday Night Football for the evening.

Al is apparently a degenerate gambler, which is fine with me. I used to be one. I know a couple of them right now ha. But hearing him drop very subtle gambling hints and always talking about over/unders, blackjack tables and horse racing is hilarious to me, knowing gambling lingo. If, you know, gambling were legal, that is.

3. BRENT MUSBERGER.
Old Man Musberger. He of the “Alright, folks, the Canes are looking to take the lead here on this important drive, STAY TUNED!” or “Okay partner (usually Bob Griese or Gary Danielson), we’re in for a good one today”. Also his intros are legendary for games. He is the voice of College Football for this generation — as Keith Jackson was for the generation previous. His knack for referring to freshmen players in both college football and basketball is hilarious to me and has made its way into my everyday vernacular — as I refer to many of my friends as “Young” as a nod to Musberger. He OD’ed with it during the 2010 National Championship — repeatedly referring to University of Texas QB Garrett Gilbert as “YOUNG GILBERT”. I was dying, as I’m sure a few other people who like Musberger were.

Previous to his current stint in college sports, Musberger hosted the pre-game shows in the NBA, MLB and NFL and has done studio work and was always in on an important call since the late 1970s.

And of course his CLASSIC intro:
“YOU ARE LOOKING LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE AT ____________ STADIUM…”

2. PAT SUMMERALL.
He had a simplistic style of calling games. I loved it, though. He let the crowd roar and tell you what was going on, he didn’t talk 100 words a minute about gibberish. I loved his intros when he was with CBS Sports, as the camera would pan across the stadium and they’d show clips from previous games in NFL Films Slo-Mo fashion. He almost sounded like he was building up to force out words in dramatic nature (as he did with the end of the clip below)

“WELCOMMMMMME TO GIANTS STADIUMMMMMM WHERE THE NEW YORK GIANTS TAKE ON… THE DALLAS COWBOYS IN THIS PIVOTAL, NFC EAST MATCHUP!”

Here’s an example of some of Pat’s best work — the 1990 NFC Championship. I nearly died this day, before Bahr made that field goal to win it for us ha.

Here is another from the 1992 NFC Championship, which was EPIC:

1. MARV ALBERT.
Marv LITERALLY does it all. Basketball, football, baseball, hockey, boxing, Late Night TV, you name it, Marv has done it. He has the great, nasal, raspy tone that he has world renown for. And of course, his NBA coverage with the Knicks endeared him to three generation of fellow New Yorkers and Knick/Rangers fans as he called games for the Madison Square Garden network.

Who DIDN’T utter the phrase “YESSSSS!!! AND… THE… FOULLLLLLL!!!” imitating Marv growing up?

I could post a litany of Albert’s best calls, but I will just link to a few, as they stand out best to me:

1992 NBA Finals: Game 1 — Michael Jordan Hits 6 Three Pointers (Which was unheard from him at that time with his game not including the deep touch).

Marv’s call: “Here’s Jordan for three… YESSSSSSSSSSS!!! DID YOU SEE THAT LOOK? MICHAEL… INDICATING… HE CAN’T BELIEVE IT!”

1991 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals
Michael Jordan Dunks On Patrick Ewing
Marv Albert: “OH, WHAT A MOVE BY JORDAN… IT COUNTS… AND THE FOUL!!!”

And Johnny “Hoops” Andariese in with his legendary analysis afterward. Even as a Knick fan I was a huge Jordan fan and this was always a bittersweet thing for me.

Marv gets you with the dramatic pauses when he is on the call, for effect “And the Lakers lead 34………………….. to 28. And Phil Jackson wants to talk it over”
It builds the drama to a climax during important playoff games, and the NBA on NBC games are forever etched in my memory.

HONORABLE MENTION:
— Ken “Hawk” Harrelson
— Ian Eagle
— Dan Shulman
— Sean McDonough
— Jim Nantz
— Kevin Harlan
— Kenny Albert

GUYS WHO ARE RELATIVELY YOUNG BUT WILL BE LEGENDS BEFORE IT’S OVER:
— Gus Johnson
IN A LEAGUE BY HIMSELF. Gus is the MAN in these parts, BTW.

Feel free to disagree, this list is personal. But I’d like to see everyone else’s list.

3 Responses

  1. GREAT post! I love all of them! I think it would be hard for me to narrow it down to five. I think an even tougher task would be to pick out the 100 worst announcers. There’s just too many!

    I’m not sure why, but I always liked Harland. He’s one hell of a homer, but always entertaining along the way!

  2. Oops I meant Harlrson, the White Sox announcer.

  3. colts 18

    If you’re merely covering the NFL and NBA . This topic becomes somewhat redundant.

    Alan Parkins

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