DAILY DIRT: Harry, Ernie and Skip lead list for best-ever voices of baseball…according to Steve

jack and harry

Harry Caray and Jack Buck worked together through the 1960's before Harry went to Oakland and Chicago and Jack became a St. Louis icon. Photo by J.B. Forbes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Daily Dirt for Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024

Please address your thoughts on my criticism of Vin Scully to J. Robert Gough or David Adam … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 857 of The Daily Dirt.

1. MLB teams will soon start gathering at spring training sites, which means the sounds of America’s pastime will soon be with us.

And by sounds, I mean our favorite announcers, both on television and radio.

Here are the voices of the game I consider the best ever:

1. Harry Caray: Sure, he had his off-the-field faults, but if Harry was on TV you knew you had to watch (and listen). There was always the chance of an unfortunate malaprop — or at the very least some comment about an attractive female in the stands.

2. Ernie Harwell: He served as lead radio announcer for the Tigers 1960-91, and many an evening during that time if I was not tuned into a Cleveland Indians broadcast I was listening to Harwell and the Tigers. I always loathed the Tigers, but loved Ernie. Harwell also had side gigs with NBC, CBS and ESPN through the years. He was best known for his conversational style of broadcasting.

3. Skip Caray: The son of Harry Caray, Skip was the voice of many of those woeful Braves teams of the 1980s, but my oh my was he entertaining. Skip rose to national prominence with the advent of the WTBS superstation that made the Braves “America’s Team”. I once traveled to Atlanta to watch the Braves, solely because I had fallen in love with that inept bunch after listening to Skip night after night for so many years.

4. Jack Buck: He had the perfect play-by-play voice, almost mesmerizing. Growing up, on the nights I was not listening to my Indians or Ernie Harwell with the Tigers, I was tuned into KMOX just to listen to Jack Buck.

5. Jason Benetti: During the offseason, he moved from the White Sox to the Tigers, which means for the first time in the 20-plus years I’ve had the DirecTV MLB package I will be watching Detroit games. And that’s because of Benetti, whose humor and keen baseball knowledge make for an incredibly interesting three hours of baseball.

6. Bob Costas: Yes, he can be a bit wordy (see below, Vin Scully), but no one — repeat, no one — can interject us into the fabric of the game itself any better than this lifelong fan for which baseball is his religion.

7. Steve Stone: Stoney has never received the credit he deserves. He’s the No. 1 MLB analyst — by far. For years, Stone and Benetti made for the top announcing tandem while working for the White Sox.

8. Joe Davis: He’s only 36, but he’s already elite. Davis succeeded Scully in the Dodgers booth, and hopefully he’s around as long as his predecessor. Although he works with a rotating list of analysts, his best partner is Orel Hershiser. One talent Davis already has is to allow the picture to tell the story. He never talks too much. 

9. Vin Scully: I’m sure this low of a ranking for Vinnie will upset some folks, but as much as I liked his voice and approach to the game he simply talked too much, which I always felt was because of two things: A. His radio background, and … B. He worked alone. Vinnie always seemed like the nicest guy in the world (and if he wasn’t, I’m sure he was close), but he simply talked too much.

10. Hawk Harrelson: I was legitimately saddened when he retired a few years ago. What I’d give to hear him say “You can put it in the boarrrrd  … YESSSS!!” just one more time. Or at least one more “He GONE!!” when one of favorite pitchers would strike out a batter.

Honorable mention: Tim McCarver: He took a lot of flak during his career as an analyst, but I always found the former Cardinals catcher easy to listen to and quite insightful.

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

Steve, no one has to send us criticism of this list, we already have it.

First, putting Skip Caray ahead of Jack Buck and Vin Scully is criminal. You put two kids ahead of Scully. I mean if it’s current, yeah, because Vin is dead and can’t exactly get to Dodger Stadium.

Stone is great, but he’s an analyst. I loved Hawk, but you can’t put him ahead of Vin, Jack and Ernie. He and Harry are basically the same guy, Hawk just had a lower handicap and Harry had a higher BAC.

J. Robert Gough

2. Here’s this week update for the Great Plate Debate III, our third year of seeking the most entertaining license plates across West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri:

Gold medal: DA LIFE. Still going strong.

Silver medal: BAT LADY. Perfect for the start of spring inning, eh?

Bronze medal:BUZZ. There have been times over the past three years when this would have been good/funny enough to be on the gold medal stand.

This week’s best o’ the rest:

  • EDGE 50
  • GO BLU 59
  • B MAN 12
  • SUE Z 44
  • MY JUDY 1
  • CLARNT 1
  • TAMI

3.  They are called “extinct” baby names, according to fatherly.com.

Those are names that were ultra-popular about 100 years ago but nowhere in the top 1,000 of most popular baby names in the U.S. for at least the past three years.

The boys names at the top of that list are:

  • Willard
  • Virgil
  • Chester
  • Cecil

Atop the list of the “extinct” girls names are:

  • Myrtle
  • Minnie
  • Agnes (I have to disagree here. For those who follow high school girls basketball in the Muddy River coverage area, I’m sure you’re aware of Agnes Genenbacher at Camp Point Central.)
  • Viola

Steve Thought O’ The Day — According to everything-birthday.com, about 240,000 baby boys are named Steve each year. Well, at least the name is not considered “extinct”.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. The one other surprising thing about the inaccuracy of Steve’s baseball announcer list is that he didn’t have a homer Cleveland announcer pick.

But I guess Herb didn’t make the score.

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