A list of the most beloved sports announcers of all time could include scores of names. Each of the major sports has its favorites, and many of these people have been in their professions for as long as their fans have been alive. Still, culling the list to just five, here are some of the most well-known and beloved names in sports announcing.
1) Vin Scully
Scully announced games for the LA Dodgers for 67 seasons beginning in 1950 when they were in Brooklyn. That marks the longest tenure in the history of professional sports of any sports announcer with a single team. Bleacher Report and Fox Sports call him the greatest baseball announcer of all time. He was NBC’s leading baseball announcer from 1983 to 1989. Scully received the Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1995, and he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame that same year. He was known for a gentle demeanor and ended his career saying, “I wish you all a very pleasant good afternoon.”
2) Ken “Hawk’ Harrelson
This announcer will call his final games in the 2018 baseball season. He spent 34 years with the White Sox, mainly calling Sunday home games. After the 2018 season, he will stay on for another year as the team ambassador. The 75-year -old began his career in 1959 and played nine seasons in the major leagues before becoming a broadcaster. He started his sportscasting career with the Red Sox in 1975 and then moved to the White Sox in 1982. Harrelson had a brief stint as general manager for the White Sox in 1986, which he said was the worst job in the world. This five-time Emmy winner is known for his signature “Hawkisms” which include statements like “He gone,” “You can put it on the board, yes” and “Don’t stop now, boys.”
3) Pat Summerall
This sportscaster was the voice of CBS Sunday Night Football from the 1960s through the 1990s. Later in his career he worked for FOX and was paired with John Madden. Some of Summerall’s fans contend his restrained style was the only reason explosive partner Madden kept his job. The sportscaster began as a kicker for the Chicago Cardinals and then for the New York Giants. He was also a popular voice in the PGA tour and the U.S. Tennis Open. In 1977 he was named the National Sportscaster of the Year. He received the Pete Rozelle Award in 1994, and in 1999 he was inducted into the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame. Summerall was a recovering alcoholic and, after twelve years of sobriety, underwent a liver transplant in 2004. The liver came from a 13-year old boy, and Summerall met the family the next year. He shared his story with Christian groups, and he wrote the book “Summerall On and Off the Air” in which he discussed his struggles and victories. He died in 2013.
4) Howard Cosell
Cosell started out to be a lawyer, but in 1956 began sportscasting for ABC. He was known for his commentaries and broadcasts throughout the controversial career of Muhammed Ali. Sometimes caustic and critical of the boxer, Cosell defended him when Ali refused to go to Viet Nam. He also stood with NFL players when they wanted to introduce the policy of being free agents. Cosell was one of the first announcers on Monday Night Football and even hosted his own variety show “Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell.” The love-him-or-hate-him announcer died in 1995. He once said, “Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose, a showoff. I have been called all of these. Of course I am.” Still, his signature statement was, “I tell it like it is.”
5) Joe Garagiola
Garagiola began his sportscasting career in 1961 with NBC. Because of that contract, he was frequently a panelist on the “Today Show” as well as a guest host on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” Like many other sportscasters, he started out as a professional player. In 1946 he played for the Cardinals. He retired from playing in 1954 and was the voice of the Cardinals from 1955 to 1962. After that, he began doing national broadcasts. He loved baseball, and he was quoted as saying, “There’s only one place to be. That’s the ballpark. The world is right with the ballpark.” Garagiola died in 2016.
Some could argue that these men are not representative of American sports broadcasters. They might ask where are the women of the profession. The answer is that they are behind the microphones where they have only begun to earn the love and respect of America’s fans. In another twenty or thirty years, a list of the most beloved sportscasters of all time might have a decidedly more feminine look.