what i watched last week
mad men season premiere

jon miller, hall of famer

I watched Miller’s speech today. I’m working from memory, but I don’t think he talked about himself in the entire speech, except in the context of praising someone else. He presented his career as having the luck to be in the right place at the right time with the right people … he’s just a kid from Hayward who wanted to eat french fries. When the speech was over, I thought it was a little too low-key. But I’m still thinking about it several hours later, and that gets at the good feelings his speech elicited.

I thought of posting one or two of Jon’s most famous calls … in the past here, I’ve posted the Ruben Rivera gaffe (“That was the worst base running in the history of the game!”), Miller’s legendary Vin Scully imitation, and what will always be the most remarkable of his many tricks, his imitation of Scully in Japanese. But today isn’t the day for a clip. Jon Miller isn’t in the Hall of Fame because of his Vin Scully imitation. He’s there because of his uncanny ability to draw a picture for the radio audience. He’s there because of his rapport with his fellow broadcasters. He’s there because of his fans. Every baseball fan has a favorite announcer, usually the one we grew up with. They’re with us for six months of every year, like a friend only more ubiquitous. Some of these announcers become known to the country at large … some of them are in the Hall of Fame. When you hear Vin Scully, you think “Dodgers.”

Well, this is Jon Miller: fans in two different cities feel that way about him, Baltimore and San Francisco.

Finally, you can’t talk about Bay Area sports announcers without noting the amazing luck we’ve had over the years with the quality of our guys. Miller is the third Giants announcer to get into the baseball Hall … Bill King is equally deserving, which is particularly noteworthy because he was even better at basketball, and no slouch at football. Hank Greenwald was a perfect fit for the Bay Area. “Kruk and Kuip” regularly get raves from people who don’t even live here. Greg Papa, like King, is a triple threat who can do all the major sports … he’s the closest anyone comes to King’s excellence at basketball. Ken Korach doesn’t get a lot of attention with the A’s, but he’s solid and, I’m guessing, a voice A’s fans associate with their team. We’re blessed, no doubt about it.


Charlie Bertsch

You know, I'm listening to KNBR right now and am pleasantly surprised, again, by J.T. Snow's performance. He has a long way to go, but I like the way he focuses on the game.

Steven Rubio

He has the makings of a decent ex-jock-in-the-box. What blows my mind is how much Doug Greenwald sounds like Dad.

Charlie Bertsch

I know! I have to keep reminding myself that it's Doug.

As far as Snow goes, I must confess that I have never disliked Joe Morgan. . .



Agree about Doug Greenwald.

I've said this before, but I've always had the impression that Miller takes responsibility for getting the rest of the broadcast crew up to speed, as he sees it, much to our benefit.

I was lucky to have Miller as my "home" radio guy when I lived in Washington...of course, back then I wasn't listening to long-distance KNBR, the way I do now. He really is amazingly good. Favorite Miller thing? The numbered archways. Who else would have thought of naming all the bits of the stadium so that the radio listeners could "see" the action better?

Steven Rubio

Yes, the archways are good. They're useful ... I enjoyed the first time he said "it's off the top of the car!", and that was useful, too, but the numbered archways really are specific.

Richard Booroojian

The story I liked the best was the one about having to run his daughter to the bathroom; I'm not sure all play by play guys would be fathers first like that. I have tried to juggle multiple balls around bathroom emergencies before; it was always that chaotic, so the story rang true.

I liked the speech overall, but I thought he sounded a bit nervous over the radio. Others seemed to feel otherwise, but there was something about his voice that had that "short of breath" feel that nervousness tends to generate.

Obviously he is a great announcer and was well capable of replacing Hank Greenwald here, but that was no slam dunk going in. Hank might not have been up there at quite the Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons level, but he was very much the voice of the Giants during his tenure. Somehow, Miller has managed to come up with the his own personable interactive style that made Lon and Hank so great here. Not everyone can do it; Lindsey Nelson was badly cast during his time with the Giants and he is in the Hall of Fame himself.

As for Doug Greenwald, there was one moment when some personality came out during his play by play today, and it drove home the feeling I have that he really doesn't express it enough in his work. His dad was an expert at relating to his audience, but I didn't feel it from his son. I have heard a few of his calls in Fresno and felt the same way then, so I think maybe it's something he doesn't have in him at this point.

Steven Rubio

Somebody ... I have no idea who it is, maybe it's all of them ... somebody has created an environment where the Giants announcers fit well together. The post-game wrapup, where Jon and Kruk and Kuip and Fleming bullshit, is great not just because they offer some good insights into the game, but because they are enjoying each other's company. And Fleming may be the #1 reason why Doug Greenwald won't get a regular job with the Giants. Fleming isn't flashy, but he holds his own in that illustrious company, they accepted him into their team, and now, as young as he is, he feels like a Giant. When your #3 play-by-play guy rates pretty good, that's a damn good broadcasting team.

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