And it got me to thinking about sportscasters and how many of them I’ve encountered through the years.
Surprisingly some of the old-timers are still going strong. I had no idea, for instance, that Verne Lundquist was still on the air.
I remember him from his Dallas days (WFAA) and he’s a native of Austin. Many of the current ones I listened to seem to be almost interchangeable, like they just have one voice and share it.
“Hey Al are you through with that voice on the Ohio State-Purdue game? I’ve got to use it tonight for USC-Brigham Young.” Of course there are some through the years that are so distinctive you immediately recognize them. That can be a good thing, or not such a good thing. You may hear a voice and want to turn the sound up, or turn it off.
5. Chris Schenkel—Probably a very nice guy but I swear he never saw a fumble recovery in his life.
“ Notre Dame has a third-andfive and, uh, why, why, Michigan State’s offense is lining up. Uh, why, I think Notre Dame must have fumbled on that last play and the Spartans recovered! Wonder how that happened?”
4. Brent Musberger—He did one of the games I saw. All I can say is, I think Mr. Musburger passed away in 1977 and someone forgot to tell him.
3. Loel Passe—The first Houston Colt 45s/Astros announcer and a dead-on “homer” (someone who shamelessly roots for the home town). He was notorious for finding ways to promote what was a pretty shaky team. “And he’s out but, you know, Houston leads the major leagues in line drives. How do you like those apples?”
When I was a kid, my across the alley neighbor would always have old Loel on outside on summer nights and I swear that voice would penetrate concrete.
2. Curt Gowdy—Highly regarded and I never could figure out why. He seemed to broadcast everything which only showcased his lack of knowledge about virtually all subjects. I’m not kidding, I heard him say this once during a Winter Olympics ski event.
“And Ladislaus is not very good on the downhill but then, the Bulgarians can’t afford to go to Europe to train.”
(Bulgaria is in Europe.)
1. Howard Cosell—If you ever heard him, you know why he”s No. 1 on the “worst” list. If you didn’t hear him, good.
The Five Best
5. Dizzy Dean—Come on, if you ever heard him you’re smiling just by reading his name.
Dizzy said “slud” and “throwed” and once uttered this on local radio early during World War II when even unauthorized reports on the weather were deemed national security issues:
“Folks, ah cain’t tell ya why they stopped the ball game....but if yuh stick your hand out the win-duh you’ll find out.”
4. Skip Caray— I’ll pick the late long t ime Braves ’ voice over his more famous father, Harry, because Skip had a great, sarcastic, intelligent sense of humor that’s rare and delightful.
Atlanta backup catcher Matt Sinatro comes to bat. Skip: “Here comes Sinatro—pause for perfect timing effect—One letter away from being a superstar.”
3. Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall—Two guys, a voice and an ex-jock, who worked seamlessly together for decades in Cincinnati. In lean years they were bigger than the baseball team. Think I’m kidding? The Marty and Joe bobblehead remains more popular in the Queen City than virtually any player’s.
2. Don Meredith—Oh what a perfect deflater the Dandy one was for the bombastic and pompous Cosell.
He never stopped being “Jeff and Hazel Meredith’s little boy from Mt. Pleasant, Texas” and that was his charm.
1. Vin Scully—If you’re a baseball fan you almost genuf lect when you write his name.
He works alone in the booth for the Dodgers and he’s been doing it more than 60 years; they were in Brooklyn when he started.
He goes “right down the middle,” doesn’t root—although he knows who signs his paychecks— and just tells you what happened.
Yeah right, that’s like saying Michelangelo hit some rocks with a chisel. Accurate but totally missing the point.
Sometimes when my team isn’t doing well, I’ll click over to the Dodger game just to hear Vin Scully’s voice.
And I’m not the only one. firstname.lastname@example.org