Wednesday, May 18, 2005

“Here’s the Windup…”

From Les Carpenter in the Washington Post:

How do you rate the 101 best baseball announcers of all time? It took Curt Smith two years, many visits to the top collections of baseball recordings and many hours of consternation as friends and favorites dropped off the list while men he couldn’t stand crawled their way into his history.

In other words, it was a labor of love.

“I think we are human beings, we love a frame of reference, we love to compare and contrast,” he said of his new book “Voices of Summer” in which he attempts to place the top 101 baseball announcers in some kind of order. “Who best embodied Broadway music? Mary Martin or Ethel Merman? There is no wrong answer.”


It would be hard to argue with his top 10:

1. Vin Scully

2. Mel Allen

3. Ernie Harwell

4. Jack Buck

5. Red Barber

6. Harry Caray

7. Bob Prince

8. Jack Brickhouse

9. Dizzy Dean

10. Lindsay Nelson

But there will be arguments. In fact there already are. Smith, who has already sold through the first printing of the book, has heard from two announcers who are unhappy their names are not on the list. The funny thing, he says, is if he did a book on the 201 best announcers they still wouldn’t make it.


“Baseball announcers mean more,” he said. “They matter more. They have a greater celebrity. Baseball fans have their favorites and their unfavorites and they are very impassioned.”

Let the arguments begin.

I have vivid memories of floating in a swimming pool in St. Louis, strapped into a Mae West life preserver, and hearing the voice of Harry Caray (#6) as he called the St. Louis Cardinals games. I was probably no more than three years old and it was probably the summer of 1956, before Harry Caray moved to Chicago. When our family moved to Ohio in 1957 I switched allegiances to the Detroit Tigers, and Ernie Harwell (#3) called the games on WJR. His voice meant summer nights on the back porch or Saturday afternoons at the pool. It still does.

Is your favorite on the list?