Back in the days before "Baseball Tonight" and Internet game broadcasts, baseball had narration without pictures. Just sound. And the narrators were (and are) adept at painting a picture of the game with their words. These 10 were among the best. My choice for the top 10 baseball announcers in the game's history (you can make your picks by clicking the link at the end):
The gold standard of baseball broadcasters, now and for all-time. It's almost unbelievable to fathom that he started with the Dodgers when they were the Brooklyn Dodgers. The smoothest delivery in the business, he works the booth by himself without a color commentator, and he doesn't need it. Received the Ford Frick Award by the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. He was also NBC television's lead baseball play-by-play man from 1983 to 1989. Most famous calls: 1955 World Series won by Brooklyn, to Don Larsen's World Series perfect game, to Hank Aaron's 715th home run (the Braves were playing the Dodgers), to the 1986 World Series (Bill Buckner's error in Game 6), to Kirk Gibson's 1988 World Series home run.
How good was Harwell? In 1948, he became the only announcer in baseball history to be traded for a player when the Brooklyn Dodgers' Branch Rickey traded catcher Cliff Dapper to the minor-league Atlanta Crackers in exchange for Harwell's broadcasting contract. The Georgia-born Harwell worked for the Dodgers, Giants and Orioles, and is best known for being the voice of the Detroit Tigers for 42 years. He was low-key and conversational, which made him the voice of summer in Michigan. He was given the Ford Frick Award by the Hall of Fame in 1991.
The voice of the Yankees in their glory years in the 1950s, the Alabama-born Allen was a ubiquitous voice in radio, television and film (Movietone newsreels) for two generations. He was uncerimoniously dismissed by the Yankees in 1964, but came back to the team in 1975 and worked on TV into the 1980s. Known for his catch phrase, "How about that?" He found a new audience in the 1970s and 1980s as the host of "This Week In Baseball," a weekly syndicated baseball highlghts show before ESPN built a TV network around highlights. Winner of the first Ford Frick Award in 1978 (an honor he shares with Red Barber).
The Mississippi-born Barber called his first major league game having never even attended a game before, in 1934 at Crossley Field in Cincinnati. He was hired by the Dodgers in 1938 and became a Brooklyn institution. He invented several phrases now common in baseball, such as "can of corn" for an easy fly ball, "back, back, back" for a deep fly ball and "Oh, Doctor," which became a catch phrase. He became a mentor for Scully, but resigned from the Dodgers in 1953 and moved to the cross-town Yankees, in part because he disagreed with Dodgers management. He won the Frick Award in 1978.
The voice of the Cardinals for two generations, Buck's gravelly baritone provides the soundtrack for some of the most famous calls in baseball history, including Kirk Gibson's 1988 World Series home run for CBS radio ("I don't believe ... what I just saw!") and Ozzie Smith's NLCS-winning homer in 1985 ("Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!") He's almost as well known in NFL circles as in baseball, and he is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well as baseball's. He was honored with the Frick Award in 1987.
The most imitated voice in baseball history, Caray was the voice of the Cardinals for 25 years and then the White Sox, and most famously the Cubs. Like an uncle who might have a couple drinks too many at the reunion, Caray was a fan's broadcaster and gave his broadcasts a personality unlike any other announcer when doing the Cubs on nationwide WGN broadcasts. Best known for his trademark "Holy Cow!" and his singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch, a tradition the Cubs continued even after Caray's death in 1998. He won the Frick Award in 1989.
A former catcher, he became the voice of the Milwaukee Brewers, and later the patriarch of the Owens family on the ABC sitcom "Mr. Belvedere." But his day job for the Milwaukee native was always as the Brewers' broadcaster who took a stand-up comedian's sensibilities into the booth with him. He stole several scenes as the play-by-play announcer in "Major League." He was honored in Cooperstown with the Frick Award in 2003.
The best of the current generation of broadcasters, his smooth baritone narrates "Sunday Night Baseball" on ESPN and San Francisco Giants games during the week. Known for his impeccable pronunciation of Latin names and being candid about his opinions, which led to owner Peter Angelos dismissing him as the voice of the Orioles, a position he held from 1983-1996.
The voice of the Giants for 22 years, he makes this list largely based on one call, the most famous in baseball history, in the one-game playoff for the 1951 National League pennant. On Bobby Thomson's home run call: "The Giants win the pennant! the Giants win the pennant! …" He followed the Giants west to San Francisco and finished his career on the West Coast. He died of a heart attack in 1971, and won the Frick Award in 1980.
Another former catcher, his folksy anecdotes made him a fan favorite on the NBC Game of the Week and postseason games for 20 years. He was a natural at broadcasting, and filled in on NBC's "Tonight Show" and was a panelist for years on the "Today" show. He made the Hall of Fame as the Frick Award winner in 1991.
Honorable mention: Bob Prince, Harry Kalas, Bob Elson, Milo Hamilton, Jerry Coleman.