Sports Illustrated – We live in a great era for play-by-play voices. The list of quality game-callers is deep and sports broadcasting has become far more inclusive than ever as evidenced by women (Tiffany Greene, Beth Mowins, Kate Scott, etc…) regularly getting play-by-play assignments that have traditionally been the domain of men only.
Given the quality of talent among play-by-play voices, I thought it would be a fun parlor game to list the 25 best working play-by-play broadcasters in the business. This list is entirely subjective. It is entirely based on my likes when it comes to professionalism, preparation and quality of broadcast. I expect to be told on social media that the list sucks.
While Deitsch admits that his list is subjective and that he expects to get pushback on social media, he won’t get much pushback from me. His list is more than fair and includes a wide range of broadcasters from a wide range of sports. Still, I’ll add my two cents.
23. Phil Liggett, NBC Sports
The soundtrack for the Tour de France in the United States…
22. Mary Carillo, The Tennis Channel and NBC Sports
A play-by-play caller who is unafraid to deliver truths while calling a match…
A cycling announcer and a tennis announcer right out of the gate had me concerned about the direction of this list. Where’s the Boston Marathon announcer going to be ranked?
18. Sean McDonough, ESPN
McDonough continues to be criminally underrated. While he currently handles Monday Night Football and college basketball broadcast duties for the worldwide leader, he was also a terrific college football and Major League Baseball broadcaster. Arguably the best Boston play-by-play announcer of all time.
17. Brad Nessler, CBS
Love listening to Brad Nessler. I feel like my dad watching an Oilers/Bengals game in 1990.
14. Chris Fowler, ESPN
The best tennis match caller working today. There are better on college football but he’s improved each year at that gig, too.
I’ll give Deitsch credit, he is showing more respect to non-Big 4 sports than I would on my list. But I still miss listening to Brent Musburger on big-time college football games. Fowler is ranked too high for my tastes.
13. Gus Johnson, Fox Sports
Would probably be higher on this list if he stilled called NCAA Tournament games. It’s a shame we don’t get to hear him on CBS (or TBS) in March any more.
10. Joe Buck, Fox Sports
Perennially underrated as a baseball voice and he’s self-deprecating on the mic, which is welcome.
I agree with this statement 100%. Not the best in the business, but not deserving of much of the criticism he receives.
9. Kevin Harlan, CBS, Turner Sports, and Westwood One
I respect a broadcaster who will do play-by-play of a drunk fan on the field during the fourth quarter of a lousy Monday night game.
4. Ian Eagle, CBS Sports, Westwood One, Tennis Channel, YES Network
The highest ranked Sunday afternoon NFL broadcaster on the list and I don’t disagree. Though his partner, Dan Fouts, might need to be the next analyst to get pushed out the door when Peyton Manning decides to get back in the game.
2. Al Michaels, NBC Sports
Still the gold standard for the NFL—and still going strong at age 72. He’ll call his 10th Super Bowl on Feb. 4, 2018.
From the Olympics to the World Series to the Super Bowl and everything in between, Michaels is perhaps the best of all time.
1. Mike Emrick, NBC Sports
I did not expect to see a hockey broadcaster at the top of this list but it is well deserved for the Doc. No other sport and broadcaster go together better than Emrick and hockey. Hell, Emrick does minor league and college games when the NHL goes into lockouts. That’s dedication. I can’t imagine Mike Tirico announcing a Northeastern basketball game the next time the NBA has a lockout.
What are your thoughts? Tweet at us @The300sBoston