Friday, February 22, 2013

The Fleeting Fraternity: The Great Broadcasters

With Joe Garagiola announcing this week that he is retiring from the broadcasting booth, it got me thinking that the legendary baseball announcers are becoming more extinct.  So, I am going to talk about some of my personal favorite broadcasters of the past and present.
1953 Bowman

Here is some background on Garagiola first.  Joe Garagiola was a backup catcher from 1946-51 playing for several teams including the St Louis Cardinals and New York Giants.  He started his broadcasting career with St. Louis Cardinals in 1955, but he is most famous for his time on NBC television.  Garagiola spent almost 30 years with NBC teaming with the likes of Tony Kubek, Curt Gowdy and Vin Scully on the "Game of the Week".  He was most recently doing games for the Arizona Diamondbacks prior to his retirement.

And here some announcers that I personally enjoyed listening to and have respected in the game:

-Mel Allen was the New York Yankees play by play announcer from 1939-64, which was the height of  the Yankees dominance.  This allowed Allen to work just about every World Series during his tenure and he also did many All Star games too. His signature catch phrase was "How About That?!".   A new generation of fans were introduced to Allen when he become the host of This Week In Baseball from 1977 until his death in 1996. 

-Jack Buck was the longtime announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals and later nationally for CBS.  Buck was not known for any signature style or gimmick, he just did games in a professional manner that made him very well respected in sports.  He is most famous for the three walk off home run calls, with each done in an unique manner.  Ozzie Smith's 1985 NLCS homer: "Smith corks one into right, down the line! It may go!! . . . Go crazy, folks! Go crazy! It's a home run, and the Cardinals have won the game, by the score of 3 to 2, on a home run by the Wizard! Go crazy!".  Kirk Gibson's 1988 World Series homer: "I Don't believe what I just saw" and Kirby Puckett's in Game 6 of 1991 World Series: "We will see you tomorrow".
2004 Topps Fan Favorites
-Ernie Harwell was most famous for being the Detroit Tigers announcer from 1960-1991, 1993-2002.  He was known for his casual, conversationalist approach to broadcasting.  He did everything in a humble way, never thought of himself bigger than the game and just wanted the listeners feel that the game was called for them on a personal level.  A little known fact about Harwell is that he did the television call for Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard Around the World" in 1951 as it was his turn.  Russ Hodges of course, did the radio call: "Giants win the pennant. Giants win the pennant".

-Vin Scully has been the announcer for the Dodgers since 1950.  His 63 years with one team is an all time record for an announcer for one franchise in any sport.  He got his start with the Dodgers working with Red Barber while they were still in Brooklyn.  His eloquent style of describing games has made him one of the most respected announcers of all time.

These are just my favorite announcers, but they are many other quality broadcasters, past and present such as Harry Caray, Jack Brickhouse, Harry Kalas and Bob Uecker.  If you have a broadcaster who has become a local icon for your team, professional or collegiate, you should not take them for granted.  These announcers have seen many games and have a wealth of knowledge. If you would like learn more about your team's history and it's players, stop and listen to them.  You can learn a lot and these men and women will not be around forever.

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