“Do you believe in miracles”— “Down goes Frazier”— “Havlicek stole the ball”— the greatest sports broadcaster of all time can turn historic moments into legendary tales by coupling thrilling action with expert calls, creating incredible memories for sports fans everywhere.

The first live broadcast of a sporting event occurred on April 11, 1921, when KDKA radio station covered a 10-round no-contest boxing match in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania between Johnny Dundee and Johnny Ray. 

A month and eighteen years later, a college baseball matchup between the Columbia Lions and Princeton Tigers became the first live television event in American sports. It was broadcasted by NBC from Columbia’s Baker Field, and Princeton won the contest 2-1 in 10 innings.

The world of live broadcasting has come a long way since then and is an integral part of the production of entertainment television; legends like Chris Berman and Dick Vitale raised younger generations of fans to shout “He could, go, all, the, way!” or “It’s unbelievable baby!” and put their own spin on the most exciting moments in live sports.

In compiling our list of the greatest broadcasters ever, there were several factors that were considered: authenticity, uniqueness, signature moments, longevity, talent, and emotional appeal (every member will have a video with their best calls attached to their name).

Seedings were randomized with every caster being given an equal chance of being picked for their position within the first division, which we have called “Icon.” The three other divisions will be announced later and filled out until we have determined who the greatest sports broadcasters of all time are.

The Icon Division

#1 Ian Darke vs #16 Chick Hearn

Ian Darke is an English announcer working for ESPN and BT Sports, primarily covering soccer and boxing in the United Kingdom. Darke is best known for his unmistakable timbre and the overwhelming enthusiasm that has become synonymous with his calls.

Chick Hearn was an American announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers that coined common phrases such as “airball” and “slam dunk”; his style was comical and came at an unrelenting pace, matching the tempo of the on-court play.

#2 Mike Breen vs #15 Stephen A Smith

There is nothing better than hearing Mike Breen yell “BANG!” when a player of the team you support nails a three, and nothing more horrifying than hearing him call it for your enemy. Breen is a fan-favorite in today’s NBA and is known for his calm, humorous approach that he couples with bursts of energy to keep the call fluid and interactive.

Stephen A Smith, unlike the other members of the list, is not a play-by-play or color commentary announcer; rather, he has experience hosting radio shows and is a TV personality for ESPN. Best known for being the co-host of First Take, Stephen A is a loud-mouthed, highly intelligent and fluid speaker that relies on comedic effect and unmatched energy to impact viewers.

#3 Vin Scully vs #14 Marv Albert

Vin Scully is thought of by many as the greatest play-by-play announcer of all time; he spent 67 years calling baseball for the Los Angeles Dodgers (dating back to their days in Brooklyn), the longest tenure with a single team in American sporting history. Scully was a pioneer in the discipline and has the kind of voice that brings comfort to listeners, and the intelligence and wittiness to provide great entertainment as a solo act in the booth.

Marv Albert has provided basketball fans with some of the most emphatic reactions to on-court action and is the voice of All-Star weekend. Albert is a legend in basketball lore and has been on the call for moments like Robert Horry’s game-winning three against the Sacramento Kings and Michael Jordan’s hanging-in-the-air reverse layup against the Los Angeles Lakers.

#4 Dick Enberg vs #13 Al Michaels

Dick Enberg was a jack of all trades during his nearly 60-year career, covering different sports for different teams and networks without missing a beat. Enberg is regarded for his professionalism and signature moments on the call.

Al Michaels is another man with career-defining moments, such as the miracle on ice game and earthquake-interrupted World Series match. Michaels currently hosts NBC’s Sunday Night Football and has extreme comfort and intelligence in the booth, rarely making mistakes on the job.

#5 Brent Musberger vs #12 Tony Romo

Currently working with VSiN and the Las Vegas Raiders, Brent Musberger famously denoted the NCAA’s Annual Basketball Tournament “March Madness,” a term used to describe the competition every year. Musberger starts with his signature “you are looking live” introduction to each call and puts incredible effort and enthusiasm into every one of his broadcasts.

Tony Romo has only been in the booth since the start of the 2017 NFL season, but he has made waves for his amicable tone and incredible ability to predict plays that teams would call on offense. Partnered with Jim Nantz, Romo is off-the-cuff with his speech and creates many funny moments.

#6 John Madden vs #11 Keith Jackson

John Madden is so famous that the football video game franchise named themselves in his honor. A former Super Bowl-winning Head Coach of the Raiders, Madden transitioned to the booth flawlessly by providing friendly, funny banter in the booth, which made football games much more palatable for die-hard and casual fans alike.

Keith Jackson covered a variety of sports during his career but is famous for his work in college football, where he often quipped tacky one-liners and shouted interjections to highlight the intensity on the field.

#7 Howard Cosell vs #10 Jack Buck

Howard Cosell spent a lengthy career covering football, including a stint on Monday Night Football, before a wave of controversy forced him out. His greatest contribution to the game is “He could go all the way!” which has been repeated by many media members since he first did it.

Jack Buck covered Major League Baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals for the majority of his career, becoming a legend of the club and sport simultaneously. Father of Joe Buck, Jack brought intensity and enthusiasm to the audio broadcast every chance that he was given, often shouting encouragement at his team while on the job.

#8 Martin Tyler vs #9 Doc Emrick

This is the best matchup in the division.

Martin Tyler is known as the best soccer commentator in the world, still adding to a broadcasting career that began by sneaking a recording onto his boss’ tape in 1968. Tyler has delivered the best calls in the sport’s history and can generate emotional reactions within audiences beyond what many would believe possible.

Mike “Doc” Emrick is considered one of the best to ever grace a microphone in the broadcasting world, having predominantly covered hockey from 1973-2020. The legendary announcer has a masterful command of the English language and has a new word or description for every situation, using his expansive vocabulary to deliver the most crystal-clear calls on the ice.

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My name is Grant and I am a DMV native and a sports junkie through and through. My love for sports started when I was four years old, when one day I flipped the channel to Sportscenter on ESPN while I was eating my morning breakfast— not much has changed since then! If I'm not exercising or jamming out to some good music, you can find me listening to, watching or reading about the world of athletics.