Welcome to Boston.com’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through Twitter, Facebook, email, his Friday chat, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each day (except for Saturday) to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate. But you drive the conversation.
So what is the Mount Rushmore of Boston play-by-play announcers? I say Gil Santos/Patriots, Fred Cusick/Bruins, Ned Martin/Sox, Mike Gorman/Celtics. Think he’s past Johnny Most. – Lance H.
The Mount Rushmore thing has become such a sportswriting cliché. Naturally, I love the concept, and this question.
First, the ground rules: We’re talking play-by-play broadcasters for the four major long-running local professional sports franchises, and we’re including those on television and radio. Got it? We’ll do this for the color analysts another day. Maybe even the day after this one.
I’ve got no beef with any of Lance’s picks, though there are plenty of arguments to be made. Let’s take it team-by-team:
Santos, Patriots: This is as obvious as the best coach and quarterback in franchise history. He called Patriots games for 36 seasons, and his call of the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history was perfect in its joyousness.
Cusick, Bruins: An easy choice for those of us who grew up fiddling with the rabbit ears on the television to get Ch. 38 to come in just right during the Bruins’ ‘70s heyday. I’ll also hear an argument for his radio contemporary, Bob Wilson. And it should be noted that we’ve got it really good right now with Dave Goucher on the Sports Hub.
Gorman, Celtics: Hard to believe because he’s as excellent as ever, but he’s been calling Celtics games nearly as long as Johnny Most. Gorman is in his 36th season; Most called the Celtics from 1953-54 to 1988-89, then contributed for a 37th season while Glenn Ordway took over the primary play-by-play role. Gorman is as good as it gets as a contemporary NBA voice, but Most has to get the narrow nod. He gave us some of the iconic calls in NBA history, and this we can say for certain: There will never be another remotely like him.
Martin, Red Sox: Mercy, this is a tough one. Old-timers will say Curt Gowdy, a broadcasting icon who voiced many of Ted Williams’s highlights but not many successful ones for the team as a whole. If you’re an impossible dreamer, it’s Ken Coleman. If you helped Fisk wave it fair, it’s Dick Stockton. Sean McDonough was a superb broadcaster who brought a welcome sarcastic edge. Don Orsillo became beloved, and Joe Castiglione has been a summer companion for generations now. I can’t argue with the eloquent Martin, with Coleman finishing as close as the Twins did to the Red Sox in ’67.
So my votes go to Santos, Cusick, Most and Martin. I’ll hear yours in the comments.