Jake Baskin examined the best former players of the past in a variety of sports who afterward broadcast in the big leagues. These game-callers were stamped for their ability to colorfully describe the play-by-play.
SPORTS OTHER THAN BASEBALL
This list will include all other sports, where fewer ex-players become play-by-play announcers. Unlike baseball, there just aren’t many historically to choose from. Other names I considered but left off include Bud Palmer (basketball), Mary Carillo (tennis), Rick Barry (basketball), Dan Dierdorf (football), and Chris Marlowe (volleyball).
This list will include all other sports, where fewer ex-players become play-by-play announcers. Unlike baseball, there just aren’t many historically to choose from. Other names I considered but left off include Rick Barry (basketball) and Chris Marlowe (volleyball).
Mary Carillo (1980-present)
Professional tennis player who won the French Open mixed doubles championship in 1977. Has done play-by-play and color commentary for most major tennis events since then. Also a highly-regarded host and reporter on Olympic coverage and frequent correspondent on HBO’s Real Sports.
Dan Dierdorf (1984-2021)
Hall of Fame offensive lineman with the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals. Mostly known as a color commentator on football, though did a little bit of play-by-play for college and NFL games nationally. Was an underrated boxing blow-by-blow announcer for ABC in the 1990s, a sport he never participated in at a high level.
Frank Gifford (1965-97)
Hall of Fame running back with the Giants. Do-everything announcer with CBS and then ABC. Best-known for stint on Monday Night Football, first as a play-by-play man and then as a color commentator. Also called many other sports, including the 1972 Olympic basketball championship.
Marty Glickman (1948-92)
Member of the 1936 US Olympic track relay team, though famously did not get a chance to race. Announcer for the New York Giants, Jets, and Knicks, basically invented basketball play-by-play as we know it today. Mentored Marv Albert and many fellow Syracuse alumni and New Yorkers over the years. Finished his career as an NFL announcer with NBC.
“Hot” Rod Hundley (1965-2009)
All-Star guard with the Lakers in both Minneapolis and Los Angeles. Worked as a color commentator before becoming the inaugural voice of the New Orleans Jazz in 1974, eventually following the team to Utah, continuing to work as an analyst on national TV through the 1980s. West Virginia native was known for his rapid-fire announcing.
Patrick McEnroe (1995-present)
French Open doubles champion in 1989, younger brother of John. Has worked with ESPN and previously CBS even when he was an active tennis player. Part of ESPN’s lead tennis broadcast team as an analyst, but moves over to play-by-play when Chris Fowler is unavailable.
John “Bud” Palmer (1950-72)
Forward with the New York Knicks in the early years, one of the first to use the jump shot. Broadcast Knicks games before becoming a national television mainstay. Worked on many Summer and Winter Olympics, including doing play-by-play of the US hockey team’s first gold medal in 1960.
Steve Raible (1982-present)
Wide receiver with the Seahawks before health problems ended his playing career. Has been with Seattle’s broadcast team since 1982, became the play-by-play announcer in 2004. Also had a long career as a news anchor for Seattle’s CBS affiliate. Remains one of the best radio announcers in football today.
Paul Sunderland (1985-present)
Gold medalist with the US Olympic volleyball team in 1984. Is now known as one of the greatest volleyball announcers ever. Also calls basketball, tennis, and track, including a stint as Chick Hearn’s successor with the Lakers. Has covered every Summer Olympics since 1992.
Pat Summerall (1962-2010)
Kicker with the Cardinals and Giants in the 1950s. Joined the Giants’ CBS broadcast team as a color commentator after retirement, but did golf, tennis, and basketball play-by-play before being named CBS’s lead NFL announcer in 1974. Worked for CBS and Fox through the 2000s, best known for his minimalist style and pairing with John Madden.