If you’re watching a Major League Baseball (MLB) game on television, then you’re experiencing the game through the voices of the announcers. This goes for most sports, but in baseball, the announcers are everything. Many of the most memorable plays in baseball history have a signature play-by-play or color commentary attached to them. So, today, to honor these legendary voices of the great American pastime, we’re breaking down the best MLB announcers of all time.
Of course, baseball announcers help shape the way fans experience the games from their living rooms. But, according to a recent study, fans are longing to experience games in person. Fans are so eager to experience watching their favorite teams in person that they’re willing to travel and spend good money just to see their teams play live. A recent survey of 2,000 self-identified sports fanatics found that 35 percent of sports fans have specifically planned a vacation around watching their favorite team play. Furthermore, the survey found that the average respondent would be willing to travel over five hours to watch one of their favorite teams play as well as spend over $750 for tickets.
Traveling to watch your favorite team in person certainly eliminates the need for a Hall of Fame announcer to call the game for you. However, some fans are so superstitious that they might not even want to watch their team play without a legendary voice behind the broadcast. In fact, a recent study finds that nearly 66 percent of dedicated sports fans are superstitious, to the point where they might even ask a relative to leave the room during a game. A survey of 2,400 sports fans found that over 60 percent of sports fans have blamed themselves for their team’s loss. Meanwhile, a staggering 38 percent of respondents feel that someone in their family is ‘bad luck’ while 84 percent of those respondents have even asked a relative to leave the room during a game. That’s some serious dedication to sports teams, folks.
So, which announcers deserve to be named as the greats? StudyFinds did some digging, consulting 10 sports and baseball-oriented websites in an effort to bring you the best MLB announcers in history. Our list comprises the five most frequently mentioned baseball announcers from across these sites. See one you think we missed? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
The List: Best MLB Announcers of All Time, According to Fans
1. Vin Scully
Easily topping the list of the best MLB announcers of all time is none other than legendary broadcaster Vin Scully. For generations, Vin Scully provided Dodger fans and baseball fans alike with some of the most memorable calls in baseball history, and he’s easily considered the best to ever do it.
“Simply the best. There is no announcer in any sport who does his job better than Vin Scully calling a baseball game… Scully has meant as much to Major League Baseball—and, specifically, Dodgers baseball—as all but a handful of people in the history of the game. He is as synonymous with Dodger Blue as Koufax, Drysdale, Campanella and Robinson. Scully has steadfastly insisted on going it alone, serving instead as both play-by-play announcer and color analyst for Dodgers telecasts… He was behind the mic for some of the great moments in the history of American sports, most notably Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Scully also had the chance to call a perfect game for Sandy Koufax, Hank Aaron’s 715th home run, and Bill Buckner’s mistake in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series… Scully has won every award one could possibly imagine and is universally viewed as the finest announcer to ever call a baseball game,” writes Bleacher Report.
Vin Scully was a one-man show in the press box, calling games for the Dodgers for over 65 years. Scully called Dodger games when the team was still based in Brooklyn, and he remained loyal to the franchise his entire career.
“Scully called games for 67 seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Los Angeles Dodgers (1950 to 2016). That’s the longest run by any baseball broadcaster. Scully started his MLB broadcasting career working with Barber. Scully is beloved by Dodgers fans, a fact cemented in 1964 when he turned down the Yankees when they asked him to come back to New York and replace Allen. His longevity means he has fans from across generations. Two of his most famous calls came in the 1980s: the Bill Buckner error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series and Kirk Gibson’s game-winning home run in the 1988 World Series,” furthers Imagine Sports.
Vin Scully turned down an opportunity to be the ‘voice’ of the Yankees, which is the biggest, most recognizable, most valuable professional sports team in the world. That is some serious dedication and loyalty. Still, Vin Scully broke the broadcasting mold, and simply put, he was a pioneer in the sports broadcasting industry. “The famous personality became the primary Los Angeles Dodgers announcer following the departure of Red Barber in 1953. Consequently, he became the youngest sports announcer to ever broadcast a World Series at age twenty-five,” adds Sports Brief.
2. Mel Allen
Next up on the list of the best MLB announcers of all time is none other than the long-time voice of the New York Yankees, Mel Allen. “[T]here’s a case to be made for Allen residing at the top in terms of talent. ‘The Voice of the Yankees,’ Allen called games for the famed franchise from 1947 to 1964, when he was fired without an official reason. Eventually, he returned to the Yankees’ television booth in 1977 until ’85. The first voice of the popular This Week in Baseball, Allen was known for his most notable catchphrase, ‘How a-bout that?!’ Allen was one of the first two winners of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award, given annually for a broadcaster’s major contributions to baseball,” explains Yardbarker.
In syndication #OTD in 1977, the premiere of This Week In Baseball. Hosted by broadcaster Mel Allen, the series became essential viewing for baseball fans, quickly becoming a church-like commitment of weekly video recaps of MLB action. pic.twitter.com/cRh4HpiYOu
— Custom⚾️Baseball (@custom_baseball) April 1, 2023
Mel Allen helped set the stage for legends such as Vin Scully to truly make a name for themselves calling baseball games. Allen began his broadcasting career in the late 1930s and remained one of the voices of baseball, in some capacity, for another 55+ years.
“Following three years of service in World War II, Allen worked home and road games for the Yankees until 1964, when he was unceremoniously ousted. After working for several teams around baseball for some time, Allen eventually returned to the Yankees in the late 1970s, working with the team until the mid-’80s. His signature ‘How about that!’ call transcended the booth, working its way into many different facets of pop culture over the years. Allen started with This Week In Baseball in 1977 and continued to narrate the show almost until his death in 1996. He is in every Hall of Fame imaginable, including the Baseball Hall of Fame,” adds Bleacher Report.
Even Yankees owner George Steinbrenner believed Mel Allen was a big part of the Yankees organization, and he even compared Allen to the likes of Ruth and Gehrig. Mel Allen is truly a baseball media icon and his catchphrases are engrained in American culture.
“Still known as the ‘Voice of the Yankees,’ Alabama native Mel Allen called games on radio and television in the Big Apple from 1940 to 1964. Allen later became the first host of the television show, This Week in Baseball, introducing him to a new generation of fans nationwide. He is famous for many calls, including saying ‘that ball is going, going…it’s GONE’ for home runs hit by Yankees,” furthers Imagine Sports.
3. Harry Caray
Singing his way into the third spot on the list of the best MLB announcers of all time is legendary Chicago Cubs announcer Harry Caray. Harry Caray is Cubs baseball and likewise, Cubs baseball is synonymous with Harry Caray and his infamous 7th-inning stretch rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.
“[T]here may be no bigger personality in the history of baseball broadcasting than Caray. The eldest of three generations of MLB announcers, Harry Caray is a Chicago legend for what was his stream-of-consciousness style and hilarious storytelling… Caray actually worked with the White Sox for more than a decade before moving to the north side of town in 1981 to join the Cubs. With WGN one of the most widely carried networks in America, Caray was seen and heard in millions of homes around the country, helping to increase his profile as one of the great voices in the game. Caray’s seventh-inning stretch routine of leading the fans in ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’ galvanized his persona as the everyman in the booth—a fan of the game through and through,” explains Bleacher Report.
Harry Caray truly made Wrigley Field that much more special for baseball fans to enjoy. However, he wasn’t always an announcer for the Chicago Cubs, and he actually got his start with the Cubs’ fiercest rival, the St. Louis Cardinals.
“One of the most beloved announcers of all time, Caray, a native of St. Louis, started his career calling games for the St. Louis Cardinals for 25 years, beginning in 1945. However, the Cardinals fired him after the 1969 season – the famous rumor is that Caray was having an affair with the daughter-in-law of Cardinals owner Gussie Busch. If true, it’s an affair that affected both Caray and Buck’s careers,” writes Imagine Sports.
Harry Caray and Jack Buck’s careers are forever intertwined with one another, just like the Cardinals and Cubs franchises. Whether or not the rumors are true, Cubs fans in Chicago are grateful for the gift of Caray, that’s for sure. However, it’s easy to forget that Caray was once the voice of baseball on the Southside of Chicago as he called White Sox games for more than a decade before moving to Wrigley to call Cubs games.
“When it comes to the great characters of the broadcast booth, there really aren’t many greater than Harry Caray. He was known for his pop-bottle-sized glasses, downing a few pops while calling a game, shouting ‘Holy Cow!’ after a long ball, and calling a game from Wrigley Field’s famed bleachers without a shirt… Caray spent 11 years calling Chicago White Sox games, usually arguing with partner Jimmy Piersall, before his final 16 as the beloved voice of the Chicago Cubs. A Frick Award recipient, Caray’s son, Skip, and grandson, Chip, followed in his MLB play-by-play footsteps,” furthers Yardbarker.
4. Jack Buck
For over 40 years, Jack Buck was the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals, and he’s considered one of the true icons of sports announcing in general, not just baseball. Watch any great sports highlights lately? Chances are, Jack Buck was announcing the game.
#OTD 2002 – Legendary broadcaster Jack Buck died at the age of 77. In 1954, Buck was hired for the Cardinals broadcasting job. He teamed with Harry Caray for 14 years. Buck was inducted into the broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. #STLFLY pic.twitter.com/mTlWy9IzJu
— Augie Nash | 🇺🇸 (@AugieNash) June 18, 2021
“Buck started calling St. Louis Cardinals games in 1954 with Harry Caray, Milo Hamilton and, a year later, Joe Garagiola. He was let go by the Cardinals in 1959 and worked national games for ABC before returning to the team two years later. Buck and Caray teamed for the next eight years, and after Caray left St. Louis, Buck served as the lead play-by-play man for essentially the next 40 seasons. His most famous call may be that of Ozzie Smith’s walk-off home run in Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS, but some of Buck’s greatest moments in baseball came outside of St. Louis, or even outside of baseball altogether. He called the 1981 NFL Championship Game, which featured The Catch,” explains Bleacher Report.
Buck had a velvety smooth voice and was amazing at captivating an audience throughout contests. “Buck called games on both radio and television for the St. Louis Cardinals, starting in 1954 until 2001. He also called football games on television, making him a broadcasting star in two sports. Before his death in 2002, Buck also became known for writing poetry, including the poem, For America, written after the 9-11 terrorist attacks,” adds Imagine Sports.
For his years of dedication to sports announcing, Jack Buck was the recipient of numerous awards and dedications. “When the 1970s dawned, Buck took over those play-by-play duties [from Caray] and held them into the 1990s. In addition to his legendary work with the Cardinals, Buck also called national Major League Baseball games and the World Series for various networks. Plus, he was the voice of several Super Bowls, notably for CBS Radio. A Frick Award winner, Buck is also a member of the National Radio Hall of Fame and the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame,” furthers Yardbarker.
5. Red Barber
Red Barber was the voice of several MLB franchises including Cincinnati, Brooklyn, and the New York Yankees. “Barber joined Allen as the first winners of the Ford C. Frick Award. Broadcasting from the ‘Catbird Seat,’ Barber’s career began in Cincinnati in 1934 and ran through ’38. However, Barber’s greatness on the microphone took shape as the ‘Voice of the Dodgers’ in Brooklyn for 15 years, starting in 1939. From there, he spent 13 years calling Yankees’ games from 1954-66. Notable Barber quips included ‘can of corn’ to describe an easy fly ball catch and ‘they’re tearin’ up the pea patch’ to reference a winning streak,” explains Yardbarker.
"Baseball is dull only to dull minds." Red Barber, born on this day in 1908 pic.twitter.com/b5docW7A9J
— Ray Boomhower (@RayBoomhower) February 17, 2019
The phrase ‘can of corn’ to describe a routine fly ball is still used across MLB broadcasts today. Red Barber helped pioneer catchphrases for announcers and some of his calls are absolutely legendary. “Barber was never a homer, but his unabashed honesty and nonpartisan style while with the Yankees did not exactly endear him to those in charge in the Bronx. Let go from the Yankees in 1966, Barber retired from broadcasting to focus on writing and other media endeavors. Ever the wordsmith, Barber is credited with coining many different baseball catchphrases, most notably calling a lazy pop-up a ‘can of corn.’ He was one of two announcers to receive the inaugural Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and was part of the American Sportscasters Association’s inaugural HOF class as well,” adds Bleacher Report.
Red Barber called the first-ever night game in the history of baseball as well as the first-ever televised baseball game. “Baseball was made for radio because of its unique pace that often left fans and players puzzled and to their imagination. However, Red Barber was the first to turn it into an art that later on made the sport even more intriguing as fans now anticipated the numerous matches. Although he had a few issues with his bosses, they were confident he was essential to the several teams he worked for,” furthers Sports Brief.
You might also be interested in:
- Bleacher Report
- Stadium Talk
- Sports Brief
- Imagine Sports
- The Famous People
- Franchise Sports
- Through the Fence Baseball
- The Grueling Truth
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