I’m going to go out on a limb and say that home runs are your favorite part of baseball. Well, at the very least, one of your favourite single occurrences during a game. Do not mistake me; I love no-hitters, complete game shutouts, and hitting for the cycle. However, home runs simply go so far, they are so loud, and they make your heart race. Additionally, unlike the formerly mentioned events including the no-hitters and cycles, home runs represent one act, one pitch, and one swing, all of which can bring you to your feet in a matter of seconds.
Wait a minute. We are missing half of the equation. Undoubtedly home runs carry an aesthetic beauty, that we see on the TV, or even through MLB.tv on our other screens. Have you ever watched MLB.tv on mute? I can’t stand it. Half of the home run equation is auditory – while I love watching home runs, the voice call from the broadcaster has the ability to make the hair on your arm stand up straight. On that note, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to highlight my favourite TV announcers, based on their home run calls and catchphrases. As a Blue Jays fan, let’s just say that Buck Martinez does not cut it.
Disclaimer: Just like sabermetric park- and league-adjusted statistics, I hesitantly gave no priority to World Series or walk-off homers, and tried to make these selections as context-neutral as possible. Like I said, I tried.
New York Mets – Gary Cohen:
The Mets are one of the teams whose broadcaster I did not know the name of. While Cohen’s calls are literally simple, the shriek or voice crack opens my eyes every time. Technically the call is just “and it’s outta here”, but that “outta” screech takes a vanilla home run call to a new dimension.
Cleveland Indians – Matt Underwood:
Underwood has a more elaborate call than Gary Cohen, not to mention that his enthusiasm also comes through, even on a mere 2nd inning home run, as seen above. “He’s outta room, it’s outta here” is the popular home run jingle Underwood reiterates on the bulk of his calls. It might be the catchiness of the line itself that lifts my spirits, but nevertheless, I would loop it while I daydream in a boring HR lecture.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Greg Brown
Following Underwood, we are now really getting into intricate catchphrase territory with Greg Brown. In fact, “Clear the deck, cannonball coming” is likely one of the more recognizable sayings in the majors. Whether the jingle has anything to do with baseball is beside the point. The emphasis Brown puts into the phrase combined with the fun alliteration sets the Pirates broadcaster in my top 3. Plus, he says cannonball – and cannonballs are awesome. Enjoy this jingle again:
Chicago White Sox – Hawk Harrelson
I am expecting some fight here, as Hawk’s voice is arguably the single-most recognizable one across baseball. His home run calls are catchy, elaborate, and unique, with viewers having the jingle echo in their heads for minutes after. I think everybody enjoys a fun “You can put in on the board… Yes!”, and let’s hope the Sox’s sophomore Cuban hits another 30 bombs this season. While Hawk favours T.W.T.W. (“The Will to Win”) over FIP and UZR and OPS+, he gets a pass by lighting up my ears every time a ball goes over the fence. It’s too bad Adam Dunn had to be traded last year.
San Francisco Giants – Duane Kuiper
My all-time favourite broadcast to view on MLB.tv is the Giants, and Kuiper (who I in fact did not know the name of before this) ranks number one. Kuiper’s home run jingle does not have the originality of Hawk’s, and arguably less emphasis than Greg Brown’s. But it has the suspense. While I purposely find myself searching though MLB.com video archives to find Giants home runs, I still get lost in the suspense of the homer catchphrase. “Hits it high… Hits it deep…It is outta here” combines some standard baseball vernacular with Gary Cohen’s Mets homer calls, and dragging out every phrase. I’ll find myself hoping for more and more home runs. Kuiper also has a certain ruggedness and coarseness in his voice, making every Brandon Belt 2-run home run feel like Joe Carter’s game-winner in ’93.
It’s possible I missed one or two calls, even on the TV side. A lot of broadcasters have memorable voices like Vin Scully, or demonstrate a passion through their home run calls, despite not having a “signature” saying. However, at the top it is Duane Kuiper for me. It’s fair to be jealous of the Giants for 3 World Series in 5 years; what is not fair is replacing the miraculous voice and calls of Kuiper with Joe Buck and Fox crew. And, while Giants fans may be disappointed in losing Pablo Sandoval this winter, keep in mind that you still possess one of your most key assets.Next post: The Season Preview Series, Part 6: The Arizona Diamondbacks in a Box
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