Familiar voices of sports

For many years, radio was how folks learned about happenings in the world.

Personalities were bred based on their broadcast or event. Some of the famous broadcasters in sports are recognized by their vocal resonance, event or sport they are describing.

For example, the Indianapolis 500 could be felt and heard through the voice of Tom Carnegie, the track announcer for more than 60 years. His signature calls while at Indianapolis Motor Speedway were “He’s on it” and “It’s a new track record.”

Golf is a silent sport except when one must yell “fore” for a wayward shot.

But anyone who ever has watched the British Open readily will recognize the voice of Ivor Robson.

Each year, for four straight days without any breaks from his duty, Robson announces the participants teeing off at the British Open, which he has done for 37 years.

Few Major League Baseball teams sport a voice finer than Vin Scully, the voice of the Dodgers for more than 60 years. He still can be heard today.

Another voice synonymous with a baseball team is that of the late Harry Caray of the Chicago Cubs. Caray was famous for his commentary and singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

One sport that had a meager following in its early years was bowling. But an announcing duo was able to electrify the action on the lanes for 23 years. Chris Schenkel and Nelson “Bo” Burton Jr. complimented each other about the techniques, conditions and overall intrigue of the sport. Schenkel created the suspense, while Bo added in the color commentary.

ABC Sports needed a voice to anchor a show it launched in 1961. The show was called ABC’s Wide World of Sports and the announcer selected to cover the action was Jim McKay.

McKay was the show’s anchor from 1961 to 1998.

He is known for television coverage of 12 Olympic Games, and is universally respected for his memorable reporting on the Munich massacre at the 1972 Summer games.

Turning to West Virginia commentators, no one can top the voice of Leo W. “Jack” Fleming, who called West Virginia Mountaineers football and basketball games for more than 40 years.

He also served as the announcer for the Pittsburgh Steelers. One of his most famous calls was 1972’s “Immaculate Reception.”

Perhaps the most recognizable voice in sports history is that of Howard Cosell, who said of himself, “Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose, a showoff. There’s no question that I’m all of those things.”

He entered sports broadcasting in the mid-1950s, offering a brassy counterpoint that was first ridiculed, then copied until it became the dominant tone of sports broadcasting.

He was part of several sports, including Monday Night Football and boxing, where his banter was Muhammad Ali was legendary.

Sporting events need not be seen to be enjoyed, because familiar voices in sports convey the action.

Contact Eddie Thomas at ethomas@newsandsentinel.com