Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Voices carry

It was tough to hear Monday that Harry Kalas, the longtime announcer of the Philadelphia Phillies who also did extensive work for NFL Films, had passed away.

Kalas was distinctive. His voice evoked memories of Michael Jack Schmidt and all things Philadelphia.

If you grew up loving baseball the way I did, an announcer's voice became part of the city or team he worked for. Milo Hamilton was the Atlanta Braves for me. Vin Scully is as much a part of the Los Angeles Dodgers as Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Jack Buck was just another way to say St. Louis Cardinals.

I remember the first time I heard Wes Durham doing a Georgia Tech football game. My first thought was "Why would Woody Durham be on the radio here?" Wes is the son of longtime North Carolina Tar Heels announcer Woody Durham and Wes sounds JUST like his father.

One thing NASCAR has going for it is that its broadcasters -- the good ones -- do so many events that last for so long that people get used to them.

Fans have become accustomed to having Motor Racing Network's Barney Hall and Fox's Mike Joy in their homes each weekend. They know Eli Gold's voice when they hear it. Many of them do a passable imitation of the legendary Chris Economaki, who has spent several racing generations in the garages and pit stalls at NASCAR and open-wheel race tracks.

The late Benny Parsons was so good as an analyst on television that a lot of fans almost forgot about the fact he was a championship-quality driver. Ned Jarrett had a brilliant career as a driver, but his contributions to the sport can't be effectively measured without acknowledgment of his work as a broadcaster. The death of Neil Bonnett not only took a driver that fans loved, but a man who had a long future ahead of him as race analyst.

I loved Buddy Baker in the booth. These days Baker is still telling his stories on Sirius Satellite Radio and he's entertaining long-time fans of the sport while helping to make new ones.

Of course, there's Darrell Waltrip. When Waltrip retired from driving and moved into the booth at Fox, I told someone I know at that network that he would be NASCAR's John Madden and I believe that's how things have played out.

There's a long, long list of names I could mention -- Bob Jenkins, Dr. Jerry Punch, Ken Squier, Joe Moore, Allen Bestwick, the late Hal Hamrick and many, many more -- that would make some race fans remember a moment or a call and smile.

Let's do this, and this is something we'll carry over onto "The Morning Drive" on Sirius NASCAR Radio on Wednesday morning. If you could have any three people working in the booth for one race, what threesome would that be?

I think I'd have to say Mike Joy, Benny Parsons and Buddy Baker. I'd have Chris Economaki, Jerry Punch and Allen Bestwick in the pits. And on the radio I'd have Barney Hall and Eli Gold in the booth.


Fred said...

On pit road, I'd put Glenn Jarrett and Jerry Punch with John Kernan as third man. In the booth, that's the harder call. My choice would be between Jenkins, Parsons and Jarrett and the old TNN lineup of Joy, Bonnett and Baker. I grew up on Barney Hall and Eli Gold, too. Can't go wrong there.

Anonymous said...

I may be alone in feeling this, but Buddy Baker drives me nuts when I have to listen to him. Sure, he's great for a good fish story, but as for race commentary, I can't give much love to someone who calls every car that moves up 2 spots in one lap a "rocket ship."

I think Jerry Punch is OK in the booth, but was the best pit reporter of all time. I'll take Punch, Dick Bergeren and John Kernan. Can't argue with Barney & Eli in the radio booth. In the TV booth, I'll take Joy, Ned Jarrett and Darrell Waltrip. I think Jarrett & Waltrip in the same booth, as opposite as they are, would make for some very entertaining exchanges. They're also both very good at giving that driver's perspective and relating it to the fans.

Anonymous said...

Allen Bestwick, Benny Parsons, and Wally Dallenbach in the booth (I miss NBC!) On the radio, your comrade Mike Bagley, Dave Moody, and Eli Gold. In the pits, I like Dave Burns, Steve Byrnes, and Krista Voda.

4ever3 said...

Oh David this is so hard.

In the TV booth I'd go with Bob Jenkins, Benny Parsons, and Ned Jarrett.

I'd get Kevin Hammond to do the tech spots with the cut out car.

Pit reporters would be Dr. Jerry Punch, Allan Bestwick, and John Kernan.

I would get Chris Economaki, Neil Bonnet, Wally Dallenbach and D.W. to do the pre-race show.

Anonymous said...


Herdman90 said...

For my classic commentary booth trio, I would like Benny Parsons, Neil Bonnett and Barney Hall.

Unknown said...

Mike Joy, Benny Parsons and Ned Jarrett in the booth

Dr. Jerry Punch, Allan Bestwick, Krista Voda in the pits.

Radio? MRN. nuff said ;-)

Holleracha said...

I saw an interview between Eli Gold and John Force. It was a contest to see who could run their mouth the most...Mike Joy Neil Bonnett & Benny Parsons are my favorites. Im a fan of Larry Mac And Wendy Venturini is!!!!

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