Announcers

These local ex-MLB play-by-play voices were unsung, yet fans appreciated them locally; (Part #2)

 

The Halls of Fame are the ultimate, the final and most coveted professional stop for extraordinary players, managers, owners and administrators. The Halls are sports’ version of heaven. It doesn’t get better. For baseball broadcasters, the Hall’s Ford Frick Award is the top of the mountain, the zenith of the profession. 

This is a list of former team play-by-play voices, all are essentially retired and many are deceased. It’s possible that some of these names might win the Frick one day, but at this point none is on this list . (Frick winners are below.)

One way or the other, these voices served their local constituencies committedly and consistently. These men might have been lead voices or play-by-play sidekicks. Each deserves recognition in a special category, “Unsung Baseball announcers.”

Vin Scully told me and others that “without Jerry Doggett, it would never have worked.” Doggett and Scully started in Brooklyn, partnered in Los Angeles and enjoyed 31 happy seasons together. From what I could glean, the two men never had a cross word. They’d spend lots of time together on the road too. Doggett accepted his support role which in the day was called “Associate Announcer.” Jerry worked his couple innings and leave the booth with a smile.

Other on this list in similar roles were Bill O’Donnell in Baltimore, under Chuck Thompson, Fred White in Kansas City under Denny Matthews. Jim Woods, considered the all-time best #2 had great interaction for years under The Gunner, Bob Prince.

Longtime local voices either retired, no longer active and to this point not honored by the HOF with the Frick Award.

(PART 1 -WAS PUBLISHED YESTERDAY)

These ex-MLB play-by-play voices were unsung, yet appreciated where they worked locally; (Part #1)

Alphabetical order:

23-Ted Leitner

Forty-one years is a long time in anyone’s life. Ted brought an unusual style that grew on San Diegans, calling Padres games for the most part on radio. Leitner called them, “My Padres.” They were occasionally “Your Padres” when they lost.  He’ll always be remembered for his years on-air with Jerry Coleman, a Frick Hall of Famer.

24-Vince Lloyd

He was first a sidekick to Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Brickhouse on television. In 1965, Lloyd and Lou Boudreau began a twenty-year partnership of covering the Cubs on radio. The two men were intertwined all those years, many of which were covering a losing team.

25-Frank Messer

Frank was another. He didn’t make a big fuss of himself. Messer was a steady pro. He began his MLB work in Baltimore under Chuck Thompson, moved up to Yankee Stadium in 1968 partnering first with Phil Rizzuto and Jerry Coleman. What was followed were years of Bill White, Phil Rizzuto and Frank who was with the team for 18 seasons before he was dropped. Thereafter, he spent a couple seasons manning the White Sox mic with Don Drysdale. At one point later, when Rizzuto addressed the crowd during a ceremonial presentation at Yankee Stadium, he cried out, “One of you Huckleberries should hire Frank.” None did.

26-Monte Moore

He out-survived Harry Caray, Bob Elson, Al Helfer, Merle Harmon and other A’s voices. He was fired a couple times by owner Charles Finley only to be rehired within days. Monte was one of the best. The country got to know him when the A’s won three straight World Series and Monte joined Curt Gowdy on NBC’s World Series coverage. Moore started in Kansas City. His homer call was “There She Goes…”, “Dinger” home run.!” Today, as we’ve seen with the recent incident involving the Colorado Rockies. Using “Dinger” can land you in PC purgatory. Back then, voices were given more leeway and  runway.

27-Andy Musser 

The other guy. Andy was known as a basketball announcer, who sound-tracked the 76ers on radio. Philly loved him. He was loved by hoops fans, particularly in the 60s and early 70s when the club had a great rivalry with the Celts. He called the Sixers title season in 1967 which galvanized the city. On baseball, he was the fellow left out, for no apparent reason, other than the fact that boothmates Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn who were together for 27 seasons. Andy was the stalwart and almost unnoticed, yet he was solid. He spent 26 seasons with the Phils beginning in 1976.

28-Bill O’Donnell

Bill had  a voice that was silky smooth. A Manhattan raised boy and Fordham grad, his years as Chuck Thompson’s sidekick might have been some of Baltimore’s best radio baseball. On WBAL and its strong north/south signal, O’Donnell was heard easily every night in his native New York. Bill passed way too soon. Thompson pushed for him to be recognized by the Hall.

29-Ross Porter

Porter was known as a numbers man, the third announcer with the Dodgers behind Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett. The numbers might have been his undoing, Porter, always reliable, comfortable and confident, would rely more on stats than stories. While fans might have found him a bit dull, they always knew what was going on down on the field. His call was lucid. Ross spent 28 seasons with the Dodgers. Introducing him into the Southern California Sports Hall of Fame, Vin Scully said: ‘Ross is accurate, informative and entertaining while modestly keeping himself secondary to the game.”

30-Jack Quinlan

Died way too young while driving in Scottsdale, Arizona during Spring Training in 1965. He was about to enter his tenth season with the Cubs when he lost his life after leaving a golf course. Jack was considered precocious and had a great future. He was a tragic 38 at the time of his death. Bob Costas believes that Quinlan was one of the best baseball broadcasters he heard.

31-Rosey Rowswell

Beloved by Pirates fans in Pittsburgh before passing the baton to Bob Prince in the 1950s, Rosewell spent 18 years behind the Bucs’ mic. When a Pirate hit the ball deep and it was headed for a homer, Rosey blew his whistle and deliriously cheer, “Raise the window, Aunt Minnie! Here it comes!” Meanwhile, a station assistant would drop a pane of glass to mimic a window shattering.

32-Herb Score

A New York kid and a former, Herb was an MLB pitcher with the Indians and White Sox He was Rookie of the Years in 1995 . In 1957, in the first game of a twi-night twin-bill, the Yankees Gil McDougald smacked a shot that fractured Herb’s facial bones. He retired in 1962 and joined the Tribe’s broadcast team in 1964, spending the first four years on the tube and 29 on radio.

33-Joe Tait

The late Joe Tait was an automatic to earn honors, winning the Gowdy media award from the Basketball Hall of Fame. Talented, a command of the language and unflappable, Tait also spent 15 seasons in baseball, working for the Tribe. He was first on radio, alongside Herb Score, for seven seasons and later eight seasons in the TV perch. It didn’t take long for Joe to find his baseball rhythm and clearly paint a word picture. Tait grew up in Chicago, a fan of Bert Wilson. Joe told me that he played an audio of Wilson for his wife and asked her to guess who it was. She said you. Joe smiled and told her, “No. It was my childhood favorite, Bert Wilson.” He told her, his enthusiasm was irrepressible.

34-Jerry Trupiano

Jerry, a St. Louis boy through and through was a disciple of Jack Buck. Trupiano spent a couple seasons each with the Astros and Expos before making his mark with the Red Sox. He and Joe Castiglione were among the more popular baseball broadcast teams in New England. They were boothmates for 14 seasons. When his contract was not renewed, the Boston Globe published an editorial saying, among other things, “A special voice, a voice we’d long come to count on like Opening Day, had disappeared. Longtime broadcaster Jerry Trupiano’s contract was not renewed by the organization, and many feel like a loved one has been stolen away.”

35-Ty Tyson

Another broadcast pioneer, Tyson was a mercantile appraiser, coalminer and wallpaper salesman, before breaking into broadcasting calling Michigan football. His first Tigers game was in 1927. Ty had three stints with the Tigers beginning in 1927 an ending in 1968. In all, he called Detroit baseball for 31 years. You can find one of the earliest baseball broadcasts ever on YouTube. It’s from 1934, the day Hank Greenberg returned after observing Yom Kippur.

36-Bill White

Bill was a true pioneer, referred to by some as the “Jackie Robinson of the broadcast booth.” Bill was the first African-American team broadcaster for any pro sport. His first season was in 1971, fifty years ago. He spent 18 seasons with the Bronxites. He and Rizzuto were an entertaining comedy act, White being the straight man. Despite a lack of any experience, Bill turned into a solid play-by-player.

37Fred White

Fred served as the number two voice on Royals radio for 25 seasons beginning in 1974. The lead voice, Hall of Famer, Denny Matthews, and White became the Denny and Fred Show in Kansas City. Before the growth of cable and years of limited televised games, radio was the thing and the Royals covered a vast geographic network in America’s heartland.

38-Bert Wilson 

From the war years through 1955, he called Cubs games with heart and soul. Tired of all the travel and cautious because of health issues, Wilson committed to the Reds for a less draining TV schedule. But he died months before the season at age 44. He left his mark for boundless energy and enthusiasm. Wilson didn’t hide the fact that he rooted in the booth. A couple of his catchphrases were: “I don’t care who wins, as long as it’s the Cubs!” and “Sic ’em, Cubs!” Double-play combinations involving Ernie Banks, Gene Baker and Steve Bilko: “Bingo to Bango to Bilko.”

39-Jim Woods

Woods was often called the best #2 man in MLB broadcast history. Jim was a ‘broadcast associate’ under Mel Allen and Red Barber with the Yanks, Russ Hodges with the NY Giants and Jack Buck for a brief time in St. Louis. He’s best identified for his years with the Pirates and his good chemistry with ‘The Gunner,’ Bob Prince. The aforementioned were all Frick winners. He then joined the A’s and partnered with Monte Moore. After a couple seasons, owner Charles Finley dumped him for what he perceived was a lack of excitement and rooting. His last gig was on Boston radio, teaming with Ned Martin from 1974-78. Interestingly, before he signed with the Sox, Finley had a change of heart. But it was too late. Woods turned him down.

40-Bill Worrell

He spent 20 seasons presiding over the Astros TV microphone. A longtime Texan, Bill started in hard news and transitioned into sports in the mid 70s. Most of the years that he did Astros TV, he also was the play-by-player for the Rockets.  Another words, he was a man on the go year-round. He’s now retired from both gigs.

41-Pete Van Wieren

Talk of understated. In his early entrepreneurial years, Ted Turner paid his talent little. Van Wieren was one of his eager young voices. So Turner assigned him a dual role of announcer and traveling secretary. Van Wieren’s first significant baseball job was with the Minor League Tidewater Tides in 1975. It was there that Pete followed Marty Brennaman who was hired by the Reds. Pete was an integral part of  the Braves broadcast team for 33 years. His well known partners were Skip Caray and Ernie Johnson, Sr. Because of the Braves national TV network, this trio were often seen coast to coast and evolved into household names among MLB fans.

Six Frick winners who played and broadcast are Jerry Coleman, Joe Garagiola, Ken Harrelson, Tony Kubek, Tim McCarver and Bob Uecker

Year          Honoree                      Primary affiliation(s)

1978          Mel Allen/Red Barber    NY Yankees/ Brooklyn Dodgers

1979          Bob Elson                    Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Mutual

1980          Russ Hodges                New York/San Francisco Giants

1981          Ernie Harwell               Brooklyn, NY Giants, Baltimore, Detroit

1982           Vin Scully                   Brooklyn/ LA Dodgers

1983          Jack Brickhouse           Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox

1984          Curt Gowdy                 Boston Red Sox, NBC

1985          Buck Canel                  New York Yankees, New York Mets

1986          Bob Prince                   Pittsburgh Pirates

1987          Jack Buck                    St. Louis Cardinals, CBS

1988          Lindsey Nelson             New York Mets

1989          Harry Caray                 St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs

1990          By Saam                      Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Athletics

1991          Joe Garagiola               NBC

1992          Milo Hamilton              Houston Astros

1993          Chuck Thompson         Baltimore Orioles

1994          Bob Murphy                 New York Mets

1995          Bob Wolff                    Washington Senators, NBC

1996          Herb Carneal               Minnesota Twins

1997          Jimmy Dudley              Cleveland Indians

1998          Jaime Jarrín                 Los Angeles Dodgers

1999          Arch McDonald             Washington Senators

2000          Marty Brennaman        Cincinnati Reds

2001          Felo Ramírez                Florida Marlins

2002          Harry Kalas                  Philadelphia Phillies

2003          Bob Uecker                  Milwaukee Brewers

2004          Lon Simmons               San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics

2005          Jerry Coleman              San Diego Padres

2006          Gene Elston                 Houston Astros, CBS Radio

2007          Denny Matthews          Kansas City Royals

2008          Dave Niehaus              Seattle Mariners

2009          Tony Kubek                 Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, NBC

2010          Jon Miller                    Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants, ESPN

2011          Dave Van Horne           Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins

2012          Tim McCarver              New York Mets, ABC, CBS, Fox

2013          Tom Cheek                  Toronto Blue Jays

2014          Eric Nadel                    Texas Rangers

2015          Dick Enberg                 California Angels, San Diego Padres, NBC

2016          Graham McNamee        NBC Radio

2017          Bill King                       Oakland Athletics

2018          Bob Costas                  NBC, MLB Network

2019          Al Helfer                      Brooklyn Dodgers, Mutual

2020          Ken Harrelson              Chicago White Sox

2021          Al Michaels                  Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, ABC

 

 

 

 

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David J. Halberstam

David is a 40-year + industry veteran who served as play-by-play announcer for St. John's University basketball in New York and as radio play-by-play voice of the Miami Heat in South Florida. He is the author of Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History and The Fundamentals of Sports Media and Sponsorship Sales: Developing New Accounts.

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Michael Green
1 month ago

What a great list of names, and what great voices. On Ross Porter: When he joined the Dodgers, Vin had cut back to doing about half of the games because of his CBS schedule. So, he really was in a lot of ways Vin’s “first’ successor, and paid for it, I think–comparisons were inevitable. The McCourt regime ousted him for no good reason, and had to hire THREE announcers to take over what he did. He now has a great Facebook page where he posts interviews and features, and it’s worth checking out. By the way, when he came in,… Read more »