Earlier this week, I posted the following on Facebook: “Mt. Rushmore of announcers: Vin Scully, Doc Emrick, Marv Albert and Al Michaels? Discuss.”
Before I throw my $.02, let me share some of the opinions I received.
From new friend John Martin: “Howard Cosell replaces Albert for sure. Marv’s “super-freak” card disqualifies him from Rushmore status.
Everett Hutto felt similarly regarding Marv Albert and added some other thoughts: “Scully and Emerick are no doubt but I put Pat Summerall ahead of Marv Albert because football is more popular than basketball and he didn’t dress like a woman. Al Michaels is really famous for his Olympic coverage and the “Do you believe in Miracles” call.”
He went on to write “Is he much different that Brent Musberger who is instantly recognizable and equally annoying. Then is this only living announcers because if we go all time you have to start thinking about Harry Carey, Harry Kalas, and Jack Buck who with Scully is on the baseball only Mt. Rushmore.”
Colleague Larry Glover who works in Kentucky added Cawood Ledford. I’m guessing most of my Northeast friends have no clue who that is. Ledford was the legendary announcer for the University of Kentucky.
Several people including friend Brett Dunleavy and my cousin Bill Smith suggested Fred Cusick – the longtime Boston Bruins announcer. Billy even made the bold statement that he would “take Cusick over Doc Emrick any day.”
Golf analyst Ken Venturi received a vote from Bill “Cotton” Hodge. Neighbor Brad Mattson liked Scully and added Harry Kalas, Brent Musburger and Keith Jackson.
I came up with this after Wednesday night’s double overtime win for the Bruins. Pro Football Talk, part of NBC Sports, had a series this week where fans selected four players from each NFL franchise that would be placed on that teams version of Mt. Rushmore.
I did not specify, but when I came up with the announcer’s version, the criteria, in my mind, were: 1. National guys 2. Actively working and 3. One from each of the four major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA & NHL)
I enjoyed reading the responses. Vin Scully seemed to garner the most support while Marv Albert was generally panned for his off mic antics. The rest were a mix bag.
The other factor for me was who would I stick around and watch a lousy game?. A broadcaster that holds an audience when a game sticks or generates an audience when the match-up stinks – Think Royals and Astros this year, truly is at the top of his/her game.
One of the hardest facets of calling baseball is making a boring inning or game interesting. I’ve heard many fans, baseball people and broadcasters say they would listen to Scully read a phone book. While I still can’t listen or watch clips of Game Six from the 1986 World Series, it has more to do with the outcome than the call I can assure you.
There are many good NBA broadcasters but to me Marv Albert is the one everyone tries to measure up to. Taking away personal choices and appetites, from a pure call of the game perspective who would you want call an NBA Finals Game 7?
The ability to rise to the occasion and make a big call without going over the top isn’t what separates Mike “Doc” Emrick although he does that well. The combination of game knowledge and player insight and sharing that at the right moment is special. You know he is prepared.
Al Michaels was the hardest for me. I really like Jim Nantz and he has a lot of versatility calling College Basketball and Golf for CBS. As Everett suggested maybe there is something to the ‘Miracle on Ice’ call. He was the last broadcast network announcer to call Monday Night Football and now has NBC’s Sunday Night Football assignment.
If you tried to do a Mt. Rushmore for local announcers you could go on forever. Maybe we’ll try that when things get slow in the dog days of summer. Stay tuned…