Top 50 network TV announcers: Nos. 11-20

Main story | Announcers 1-10 | 11-20 | 21-50 | Y! Sports blog: The worst 50 of today

11. Jim Nantz

Nantz
Nantz

Nantz is prized for his genuine, understated enthusiasm.

When Brent Musburger was fired abruptly on the eve of the 1990 Final Four, Nantz brought a softer touch as heir apparent. He's the ultimate pro, whether in the studio or handling play-by-play of the Super Bowl or the Final Four.

And of course it's "a tradition unlike any other" when Nantz checks in from Augusta. He has hosted the Masters each spring since 1988 with aplomb and an unwavering passion.

Nantz, in the prime of his career at 49, has many treasured chapters ahead of him. He might become dominant in his profession over the next couple of decades.

12. Dick Vitale

Vitale
Vitale

This garrulous commentator has been the college game's great ambassador. Whether it's from his ESPN pulpit or on the motivational circuit, Vitale has promoted the emotion, theater and romance of college hoops. He has inspired, implored, emoted and effused, helping lift college basketball to uncharted heights of popularity.

Vitale deifies coaches and tells inspiring stories, often about the obstacles players have overcome to elevate their game. Purists might not like the fact that he digresses during broadcasts, but he's always entertaining and provocative.

And his Dickie V-isms have become the language of millions of basketball fans. "It's awesome, baby!"

13. Joe Buck

Buck
Buck

Joe Buck, not yet 40, already has accomplished what most sports announcers won't in a lifetime – he has called 11 World Series and two Super Bowls.

Joe's glittering accomplishments demonstrate that he capably has exceeded the legacy of his father, himself a skilled announcer. The styles, though, are as different as the two generations. Jack Buck was a child of radio. He was folksy, chatty, warm and fuzzy.

Today, imperatives of network television dictate that Joe orate with commanding brevity.

14. Marv Albert

Albert
Albert

Because he still is so vibrant, it's hard to believe Albert has been around the NBA for five decades. He has covered Dolph Schayes and Danny Schayes, the Syracuse Nats and the Charlotte Bobcats, Red Holzman and Red Auerbach. He's bellowed on radio, most notably as the New York Knicks' play-by-play man, and on television, on cable and on satellite.

Albert's cries of "yes" grew in lockstep with Michael Jordan's eye-popping feats as the pair saw the NBA through the '90s, the league's most successful decade.

15. Frank Gifford

Gifford
Gifford

When he retired from the NFL in 1964, he began a sparkling 35-year network broadcast career, first at CBS and later at ABC.

From 1971 to 1985, the greatest years of the "Monday Night Football" prime-time series, Gifford was on top of the world calling the play-by-play. It was baptism under fire. He put up with Howard Cosell's antics and with Don Meredith's disjointed sideshow. Gifford's career peaked in 1985, when he did the play-by-play of ABC's first Super Bowl telecast.

16. Vin Scully

Scully
Scully

On radio for the Dodgers (approaching 60 seasons), Scully paints a brilliant picture. On television, he slugs the picture succinctly. "On radio you're a puncher," he said. "On television you're a counterpuncher."

In 1953, at 25, Scully worked the first of 11 network World Series assignments. He was NBC's lead announcer for its MLB Game of the Week through much of the 1980s.

This golden and melodious voice, so identified with baseball, also did the NFL for CBS.

In 1982, Vin Scully called the momentous Dwight Clark catch that propelled the San Francisco 49ers to a heart-stopping victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC championship game.

17. Mike Tirico

Tirico
Tirico

Quick-witted and engaging, Tirico has become one of today's most ubiquitous announcers.

Tirico respects history and his broadcast predecessors. Every year at the British Open, for instance, Tirico called Jim McKay to reminisce about McKay's years of coverage of the beautiful British courses.

Some aspirants arrive at ESPN and swell. Others, like Tirico, arrive and grow.

18. Chris Berman

Berman
Berman

Berman is the signature of ESPN. He joined the fledgling network the year it was born, 1979. He's now Bristol's senior host, blending clownish humor with comedic highlights.

Through the years, Berman's confidence swelled as did his voracious appetite for shtick. "Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn," he says. In Berman's case, style is dotting nicknames and sprinkling impersonations while voicing highlights.

19. Billy Packer

Packer
Packer

Partners came and went: Curt Gowdy, Dick Enberg, Gary Bender, Brent Musburger and Jim Nantz. In between, there were seven presidents and four decades of unprecedented NCAA growth. The one constant was Billy Packer, on NBC (1974 to 1981) and on CBS (1982 to 2008).

Packer, Enberg and the incomparable Al McGuire called four Final Fours together from 1978 to 1981. McGuire emoted about life and Packer tussled with him semi-playfully from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

CBS and Packer parted ways after the 2008 Final Four. March will be eerily quiet without him.

20. Dan Patrick

Patrick
Patrick

Smooth, glib and verbally cogent, he hit our television sets nightly, effortlessly demonstrating "SportsCenter"'s credibility and dependability. Through the years, the audience ballooned and "SportsCenter" became an ESPN cash cow.

Patrick's most noted partner was Keith Olbermann, with whom he worked rhythmically in the mid-1990s. The two became intertwined as they established "SportsCenter" as the backbone of ESPN's programming.

Announcers 21-50

David J. Halberstam is a broadcast sports historian and sales and media consultant. He is the author of "Sports on New York Radio: A Play-by-Play History" (1999; Masters Press/McGraw Hill).