April 7 - Announcer Roll Call
As I begin my 31st year counting the makes and misses on televised sporting events for production
companies ranging from the network to the local level, I enjoy reflecting on the many announcers with
whom I have been fortunate to share the broadcast booth - as varied in their styles and manners of
expression as those of the individual athletes whose performances they describe.
I have always thought of these individuals sitting next to me as being analogous to starting pitchers in
baseball. The quality of the telecast largely rides on what they bring to the microphones that day. Of
course there are key decisions by producers and directors (the mangers or coaches, to carry out the
analogy); important support from camera persons, font coordinators, tape whizzes, associate directors,
etc. (i.e. the other eight players on the field); and, most importantly, personnel assignment decisions by
the network hierarchy and coordinating producers upstairs (representing the club presidents and
I have worked with the full range of personalities over these three decades - their demeanors ranging
from "tight as a drum" to "walk in the park". The pressure all of them face is immense - both in trying to
present a clean, informative telecast that day to, in the case of some, helping their standing in their
profession so that maybe a standout broadcast on their part might lead to better assignments in the
I have been most identified by my association with Dick Stockton. We will be working our 24th year
together as the NBA season progresses, and to me Dick has best resembled Don Sutton during the
latter's playing days - incredibly consistent, possessor of both a fast ball and curve (in Dick's case,
factual information at hand mixed with humor and a great ability to interact with his analyst) and Hall of
Fame careers for both (Don in Cooperstown, Dick in the broadcast wing of the basketball pantheon in
Announcers range from those who almost exclusively bring a Roger Clemens high hard one to the mike
(e.g. Dick Vitale, Chris Berman) to those who are the ultimate craftsmen in the Greg Maddux/Pedro
Martinez molds (Jon Miller, with whom I will begin my 13th season on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball,
being the prime example).
I have always been a fan of Marv Albert's, whose signature "yes" reminds me of 318-game winner Phil
Niekro, men with unique deliveries and the Hall of Fame portfolios to show for it.
His son, Kenny, with whom I have enjoyed working for several years, mainly on Fox Baseball, is a Mike
Mussina clone - totally prepared, durable, and a person you can confidently write down for 16-18 wins
before the start of each season.
Gary Thorne and Mike Patrick have for many years been two of my favorites - warm, always ready to play
personalities no matter which sport they are broadcasting. They remind me of one of my favorite players
of all-time and a wonderful friend over the past twenty years, Jim Kaat, who did it all for almost a quarter
of a century on the mound - won 283 games, captured sixteen Gold Gloves, hit fourteen career home
runs, and became a trusted reliever when his starting days were over. Gary, Mike and rising talents like
Mike Tirico, with whom I have been working football and basketball for ESPN the past several years,
Dave O'Brien and Dan Shulman show great versatility, no matter what assignment or sport they are
plugged into that day.
Some announcers take a while to get their bearings. Remember, Sandy Koufax was 36-40 his first six
years with Brooklyn and L.A. before putting it all together. Some announcers needed to refine their
styles - not try to cram so many factual "nuggets" into each broadcast, trust their analysts more, let the
telecasts breathe, and do not try to make every call sound like they are trying get a "sound-up-full" hit on
a Sports Center highlight package.
One of the most enjoyable elements of my time in this business has been working with young people
(and, fortunately these days, that includes more women) both in the booth and the television trucks. For
those people whose companionship I enjoy, I get genuinely excited watching their careers take off.
Announcers, in particular, should remember that the ball is in their hand and, whether they are in
Yankee Stadium or Tropicana Field, they should be ready to go nine that day and hopefully come up with
a complete game "W".