Baseball quiz: Honoring the great TV, radio sports announcers

Watching baseball on TV is great, but listening to games on the radio is one of life’s pleasures.

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San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers

The late Vin Scully is one of the best sports announcers of all time.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Dodgers are in town this weekend. While many of you will be watching Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and old friend Jason Heyward, I’ll be listening. My friend and colleague Charley Steiner, the radio voice of Dodgers baseball, will be in the visitors’ radio booth, relaying the action to the folks in L.A. and those who listen on the MLB app.

Charley is one of the great baseball radio play-by-play talents around. He shares the booth with another Chicago old friend, Rick Monday, and they do a stellar job. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching a game on television and listening to their descriptions, but baseball was made for radio, far more than any other sport.

Charley took over the mic from baseball’s greatest announcer, Vin Scully. “When I got old enough to really express myself, I knew that it was the radio that really brought me into yearning to do baseball,” Scully said.

The great Al Michaels described how I’ve lived my own life since I was a kid: “If you’re listening to a game on the radio, you can dream along with the game.” “Radio means freedom,” Scully said. “You have the radio on, and you can paint the garage. With television, it’s a commitment. Radio is your associate — you have it with you, and you’re listening while you’re doing something else.”

Today’s quiz is about great sports announcers, both radio and TV, so you know what to do: Have fun and learn a lot.

1. When Kirk Gibson hit a very unexpected walk-off homer against Dennis Eckersley in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, he did something that likely will never happen again: He was at-bat for close to 10 minutes. The TV call was perfect because it sounded like a radio call. “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!” Who spoke that magic?

a. Al Michaels

b. Vin Scully

c. Red Barber

d. Harry Kalas

2. Which U.S. president said, “I watch a lot of baseball on the radio”?

a. Ronald Reagan

b. Gerald Ford

c. Donald Trump

d. John F. Kennedy

3. Which U.S. president broadcast Cubs games on Des Moines radio station WHO?

a. Ronald Reagan

b. Donald Trump

c. George H.W. Bush

d. Dwight Eisenhower

4. Whose home-run call was, “You can put it on the board . . . yes!”?

a. Ken “Hawk” Harrelson

b. Harry Caray

c. Tom Cheek

d. Pat Hughes

5. When Ozzie Smith stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, Dodgers pitcher Tom Niedenfuer tried to sneak a fastball by him, and Smith turned on the pitch, lifting it over the right-field wall at Busch Stadium to give the Cardinals a 3-2 win. Which broadcaster succinctly declared, “Go crazy, folks. Go crazy!”

a. Joe Buck

b. Jack Buck

c. Mike Shannon

d. Tim McCarver

6. When Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon socked his first career home run in May 2016 against the Padres, who made this brilliantly funny call? “Colon, looking for his first hit of the year. He drives one, deep left field, back goes Upton, back near the wall, it’s outta here! Bartolo has done it! The impossible has happened!”

a. Ralph Kiner

b. Gary Cohen

c. Lindsay Nelson

d. Howie Rose

7. Two announcers were famous for using the phrase “Holy Cow!” Who are they?

a. Harry Carey

b. Harry Kalas

c. Phil Rizzuto

d. Elmer Borden

8. Which baseball play-by-play announcer appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” more than 60 times?

a. George Burns

b. Bob Uecker

c. Dick Enberg

d. Jon Miller

9. One of my favorite announcers, Steve Stone, had two stints with the White Sox, pitched three seasons with the Cubs and became a 20-game winner with the Orioles in 1980, when he won the American League Cy Young Award. He once was traded for another great announcer and allowed the only home run in the 3,754 plate appearances of yet another great announcer. Name those two other announcers.

a. Duane Kuiper

b. Ron Santo

c. Keith Hernandez

d. Joe Garagiola

I hope you had as much fun as I did this week. And if you happened to go 9-for-9, just imagine Mel Allen exclaiming, “How about that?!” If you see Charley Steiner at Wrigley or around Chicago, tell him you’re friends with Bill Chuck, the Quizmaster.


1. The play was legendary, and so was Vin Scully’s call.

2. President Gerald Ford said it, and he wasn’t wrong.

3. Ronald Reagan recreated games for his listeners. He had the presence of mind to prolong an at-bat with endless foul balls until his Western Union feed resumed.

4. “He gone!” Hawk Harrelson is gone (retired) but not forgotten.

5. That perfect call was made by Jack Buck

6. Gary Cohen called Big Sexy’s homer with an homage to the call from question No. 1.

7. Harry Caray, the Hall of Fame broadcaster, developed the phrase to make sure he didn’t utter expletives on the air. On Oct. 1, 1961: “Fastball. Hit deep to right. This could be it. Holy cow! No. 61 for Roger Maris!” That was Phil Rizzuto, and “Holy cow!” was one of his signature phrases, as well.

8. It was Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker, who said, “When I came up to bat with three men on and two outs in the ninth, I looked in the other team’s dugout, and they were already in street clothes.” Uke said on “The Tonight Show,” “People don’t know this, but I helped the Cardinals win the pennant. I came down with hepatitis. The trainer injected me with it.”

9. Duane Kuiper was a second baseman for the Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants and hit only one homer in his big-league career. Tune in sometime and listen to him do his work on Giants broadcasts. On Dec. 11, 1973, Ron Santo, who became a Cubs radio analyst, was traded by the Cubs to the White Sox for Ken Frailing, Steve Swisher and Steve Stone.

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