Broadcasters play a very key role in our sports-viewing experience, which is why it’s so puzzling that so many on the air today can’t quite hack it. Most of them actively detract from the action on the field, and leave fans wondering how there isn’t anyone better to do their job. Save a few great ones (Joe Buck, Brad Nessler) and a some good ones (Collinsworth and Michaels, Matt Vasgersian, etc.), there isn’t much to aid in the on-field excitement. The current state of broadcasting makes me crave the energy, timing and poise of some of the broadcasters of my childhood, and even before I was born. There have been hundreds of classic calls in sports history, that will be remembered forever. I’ve ranked them.
10. Rod Bramblett and Stan White – The Kick Six
When you break down the magnitude of this game, the rivalry, the title game implications and the play itself, this play could very well be the most absolutely mental thing to happen on a sports field in a lot of our lifetimes. Add in the facts that (a) I’m proudly biased (Waaarrrr Eagle) and (b) “They won’t keep them off the field tonight!” is just so, so, so good. What a moment. They should have fired Saban for this.
9. Vin Scully – The Buckner Play
Admittedly, the only call for a negative play on my list, this one has been heard the world over by sports fans. It’s a classic call that lives in the nightmares of Bostonians, even with their now four championships since 2004. I don’t care what anyone says, man. That ball skipped on ol’ Billy. Poor lad.
8. Mike Keith – The Music City Miracle
You knew this would be on this list, and you were right. This one is fantastic because of the way the announcer completely ditch the aforementioned poise trait and react exactly how fans would. “He’s got something! He’s got something!” Just like we all do while watching a game. Capped off magically with Keith’s “There are no flags on the field, it’s a miracle!” What a cynical football guy to be actually shocked that there was no flag lying back at the 40 to rip their hearts out and stomp on them. Cynical, but completely justified. And in this case, it made for a classic call.
7. Tom Cheek – Joe Carter’s World Series walk off
In 1993, Joe Carter became the second player to ever hit a walk-off home run to end the World Series. He did so off of Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, and Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek nailed it with one of the most classic one liners of all time. This entry is actually a bit lower on this list then you might have thought, but Cheek’s initial call leaves something to be desired. He more than saves himself, though, with his iconic line.
6. “J.R.” Jim Ross – Undertaker throws Mankind off Hell in a Cell
There are probably some of you upset that I included this, but it’s my list and I will literally, unequivocally, absolutely do whatever I want. That being said, this is far and away the best call in professional wrestling history. It’s even better knowing that in the oft-staged sport of wrestling, J.R. legitimately had no idea that the spot from the top of the cell was happening, and legitimately thought ‘Taker killed Mankind. J.R. was the best ever, and this moment was his opus.
5. Howard Cosell – George Foreman knocks down Joe Frazier
If you ask 10 people about the line “Down goes Frazier!” I bet 8 of them tell you it was at the hands of Muhammad Ali, and 9 of them say that it resulted in a knockout. Both are incorrect as you can see above, as Smokin’ Joe got back to his feet after a brutal blow from the hardest hitter in the sports’ history, George Foreman. This is objectively the most famous line on this list, and the most famous in sports history. And it’s excellent. But four are better.
4. Verne Lundquist – Tiger Woods 16th hole chip at the 2005 Masters
“In your life..!” Golf is not exciting. Relax, and do not @ me. It is simply not an exciting game. You may love it, you may enjoy playing it, you can say that it’s fun to watch, but I will not allow anyone to ever, ever say that golf is “exciting” because it is not. This was. And I don’t think anyone will ever be able to replicate it.
3. Keith Jackson – Desmond Howard 1991 punt return Touchdown vs. Ohio State
College football’s greatest all time announcer sadly passed away earlier this year. But what he left was an enormous legacy, including the greatest call in the history of the sport. Desmond Howard’s video game run-back against the rival Buckeyes in 1991 is one of the most iconic moments in football history, and the icing on the cake is Jackson’s impeccable timing, and an all-time one liner: “Hello, Heisman!” before Howard struck the pose! People don’t talk about that enough. Just incredible. When you’re the best, things work out like that sometimes.
2. Al Michaels – The Miracle on Ice
Of course, it’s going to be here you idiots. Of course it is. The group of college kids beat the greatest hockey team on the planet, and Al Michaels immortalized it forever. Why it’s this high? They beat the Soviet Union and it was, quite literally, a miracle. Why it’s not number one? This [moment+call] would surely equal number one. But that’s not my list, Jack. My list is the best calls ever. And while this was Michaels’ best, and will give you goosebumps any time you watch it, I can do it one better.
1. Bob Sheridan – Buster Douglas K.O.s Mike Tyson
Feast your eyes ladies and gentlemen: the single greatest call in the history of sports. I think some of you are doing a spot of eye rolling right now, eh? Well, stop, and watch the above clip. There have been announcers who have properly described the magnitude of the moment (see Michaels above). There have been ones who have showed other-wordily excitement (see Kick Six or Music City Miracle above). But no one has ever so successfully meshed the two. Then, add in the fact that I felt every ounce of Sheridan’s disbelief at this moment: “Look at this! He’s knocked Mike Tyson to the ground.. For the first time in his career!” This is the only sports moment where the crowd could be completely removed and I could still get goosebumps. It was simply perfect. And it’s the best broadcaster call in sports history.