The Chicago Cubs have had some notable voices announcing games. First on radio then on TV, Cubs announcers have brought the game to life with insight and witty banter. They span generations of Cubs players and fans alike and include four Ford Frick winners, a President to be, and a number of former players.
I have to be honest – the Chicago Cubs’ TV duo of Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies took a while to grow on me but their quirky humor has led me to appreciate their broadcasts. Perhaps the moment that sold me on Len and JD was Jim’s two-man luge comment during a recent game against the Cincinnati Reds, referring to a ball boy and security guard sitting one behind the other.
Ford Frick winners
Milo Hamilton broadcast games on radio and TV from 1955–57 and 1980–1984. He referred to new Cub players as “youngsters” and was known for corny exclamations like “Holy Toledo.” He worked alongside three other greats, Jack Brickhouse, Vince Lloyd and later Lou Boudreau.
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Bob Elson became a Cubs broadcaster in 1929 after being pilfered by WGN from the St. Louis Cardinals. His relaxed style inspired many who followed him including Jack Brickhouse and Milo Hamilton. He was the first Cubs broadcaster to win the Ford Frick Award.
I grew up listening to Jack Brickhouse on WGN, and can still recall his voice calling out the Cubs defense: “Santo, Kessinger, Beckert and Banks the infield third to first; the battery Jenkins and Hundley….” He is perhaps most well known for his home run call… “it might be, it could be, it is! HEY HEY!” As you know the words “Hey Hey” decorate the left and right foul poles at Wrigley.
Harry Caray. Need more be said? His legend lives on in the seventh inning stretch singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame and his comment in 1991 about green apples led Cubs fans to deposit mountains of green apples all over and around his statue at Wrigley Field and his grave site during the 2016 World Series. Who else but Cubs fans, right? Perhaps the moment that stands out in my mind is his comment about a pop fly in the infield to end a game in a loss, “That wouldn’t be a home run in a phone booth!” (Note: If you are under 40 you might have to Google phone booth).
Several broadcast teams worked very well on both the radio and TV side. Today’s radio team of Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer are well liked. Jack Brickhouse shared time with Vince Lloyd, Lou Boudreau and Milo Hamilton. Caray shared the booth with Steve Stone, who called it like he saw it, perhaps too undiplomatically at times.
He could have hardly known at the time as Ronald Reagan manned the radio booth from 1933 to 1936 that he would one day occupy a very different office. His radio gig with WHO in Des Moines led to a screen test in Hollywood, and we know how the rest went. Ever popular with a great many Cubs fans, Reagan came to Wrigley Field in 1988 to throw out the first pitch and join Caray and Stone in the booth for an inning.
The Cubs will be going their own way on a TV deal after the 2019 season so who occupies the TV and radio booths after that is anyone’s guess. It seems difficult to imagine the Cubs departing from their current broadcast teams.