TV, Radio, Internet...dishing dirt since 2001
My vote goes to the team of Joe Starkey and Gary Plummer.
Nobody beats LonToo young to really remember Don.Joe, too neurotic.Ted? are you kidding? With that voice best suited to calling chess matches ? He's the nerd playing Guitar Hero one day...and Led Zepplin hires him off of YouTube jumping up and down in his basement. And fans are tortured forever after.
Simmons, without a doubt was the best of the group. His wonderful baritone, likeable personality, and passion for the game gave many of us young listeners their first insight into the colorful, violent world of the NFL. When the Niners made a key play in the game, Simmons rose to the moment and gave it its just due with a memorable description. Don Klein was solid, but unspectacular in his six seasons as Niners announcer (1981-86), and is better remembered for his long tenure at Stanford. He did get to call the most famous play in Niners history however, and his call of Dwight Clark's iconic catch in January of 1982 is a great one. Ted Robinson is versatile and has done a little of everything. He and booth mate Eric Davis make a very good combo these days for a possible Super Bowl team. Ted rarely messes up a call, and has a lot of passion for the game. Joe Starkey is the weakest of this group, and its a shame bay area listeners had to put up with his poor play by play calling for 20 years. Starkey's brutal call of 'the 'Play' in the 1982 Cal in over Stanford is one of the most confusing, convoluted radio calls of a big play every made, and it's stunning that this fractured and harried account of perhaps the most memorable college football play ever here in the bay area is considered to be 'iconic.'
"There's another one". Starkey has said he is disappointed with the call. He never uses the word "lateral". There were FIVE of them! 12:25 is spot on. Confusing and convoluted. How could he have lasted twenty years with the 49ers? What a bonanza.
Lon all the way. He was also fantastic doing baseball. Klein was so-so and Robinson is adequate. Starkey, on the other hand, was flat-out horrible. The worst play-by-play announcer I've ever heard do a professional game. He must have had photos of the Yorks/Debartolos in compromising situations b/c it's the only explanation for how he kept his job for so many years. Every broadcast was a train wreck. Typical Starkey call: "The Niners pick up nine yards on that play and that brings up second-and 1. (20 seconds elapse.) Oh, my mistake, that was a loss of 2 yards, and it's actually third-down, so make that third and 12."
Starkey of course...
I like Ted Robinson myself. Lon is a legend tho.
Bob Fouts, when the opposition blitzed he would yell "Red Dog!"
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler get my vote.
How about Hacksaw Hamilton from San Diego. Frisco! Show me your mining pan! Sorry, he's just so bad, he's good.
I enjoy Robinson. Not sure why anyone would knock him for his voice. Not everyone has to sound like their testicles are the size of bowling balls. If anything those voices are very cliche. What I most enjoy about Robinson is he knows it is not about him. He has a knack for when to step back and allow the action to speak for itself (I am including of course his work on TV especially tennis). He is always prepared with excellent tidbits and you have to respect that about a broadcaster, he does his homework VERY thoroughly. I gained a lot of respect for him when he called what is considered the best tennis match of all time, the Wimbledon final of Federer vs Nadal in 2008.
Can we make it a four way tie? Cause it's just not like picking, say, your favorite Giants announcer; each of these four have great strengths and no real weakness and its been great listening to all.
Hmm . . .The Gray Panther as Mike Krukow called him (Lon Simmons) made two of the greatest calls (Steve Young's incredible touchdown run vs. the Vikings--"Gets away again . . . to the 20, the 10 . . ." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HG_OCaKeiU8 was exceptional.I found Don Klein to be bland. Compare his call of The Catch vs. Vin Scully's and there's no comparison. The problem with Joe Starkey was he didn't tell the listener where the ball was. Listen to his call on the so-called Catch II: "Owens, Owens, Owens!" Owens what?!? Same problem with his call of The Play (Big Game).I respect Ted Robinson as a professional; I like his call (with Eric Davis screaming in the background) of last year's Alex Smith bootleg and Vernon Post vs. New Orleans. I guess that makes Lon the best for me. How many people grew up with Lon on the radio? Even baseball stars like Joe Morgan and Dennis Eckersley loved listening to Lon.
you are exactly right concerning Starkey! maybe listening to him and while watching TV was ok, but I swear he never realized he was on the radio and most listeners could not see what was going on. Never gave yardage or where ball was spotted until well after play - extremely frustrating to listen to. Your example of the Owens catch is spot on!
Uh, me again from 1/13/13 at 9:45 PM. I forgot to mention the second great call by Lon: The Drive ending with Montana to John Taylor. Touchdown!
@5:22"WHO wants to talk SPORTS??? Mira Mesa...WHERE ARE YOU???PENNaskeetose: TALK to me! RRRRRrrrrrrreaction!"Oh man, Hacksaw is indeed so BAD...he's good.
@12:25I bet most people don't remember who the network TV announcer was who called "The Catch":It was...VIN SCULLY!
Lon. easily. Bill King gets most of the glory but Lon is right up there. Robinson is very good but missing Lon's wit, charm and drama. I don't know why people liked Starkey, he called radio like he was doing TV.
This is like asking who the greatest SF Giant was/is. Lon Simmons is to what Willie Mays is for the Giants. Second place is not even in the discussion. (i.e. Who is the second greatest SF Giant? The gap is wider than 100 Grand Canyons)
Got to go with Ted and Lon. Ted brings more preparation and a lot more data to the broadcast. But Lon was great at descibing the action. His call of the Jim Marshall own TD is classic.
NO BRAINER. Lon Simmons. Natural enthusiam, personableness, could paint a picture (like a radio announcer is supposed to do), sense of humor -- the whole enchilada. Don Klein was old school radio too, but didn't have Lon's sense of humor. And that's not necessarily a minus. As for the other two, forget about it. Starkey should've stayed in the banking industry where he started. Robinson isn't Lon Simmons.
I'm 26 so I only know Starkey and Robinson. I liked Starkey much more than Robinson. I liked Plummer better than Davis too. I like Eric Davis on NFL AM and when he was on The Game but I'm not a fan of his color radio work for the Niners. "WOW!" "YESS!" "Got Him!! Got Him!!" - way too much cheering.
I have to go with Lon and Ted comes in 2nd. For the sake of sheer competence, I go with Don Klein in 3rd place. Agreed Starkey was terrible. He was even worse on Cal football - a total homer. I always thought Starkey was a Cal alum so I cut him some slack on the homerism. But when I found out he went to school somewhere else, it made his blatant boosterism of all things Blue & Gold cringeworthy. The only broadcaster I heard who was a worse homer than Starkey, was Bill Woodward on KMJ for Fresno State. At least he was an alum.
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I'd pick Lon. Ted unfortunately is saddled w/Eric Davis which diminishes the broadcasts. He's is knowledgable but his constant,YEAHs!!! are strictly minor league league. Speaking of color commentators, no one was better than Wayne Walker in the day.Bill King, hands downs, the best play by play man.