Tale of Four Voices

th the recent news involving past, present, and future Giants broadcasters, a quick rundown and reflection of four famous (and infamous) radio voices are in order. Here's one fan's view of who's who and what's what on the airwaves.

[Before I get started, a big thanks to everyone who gave feedback on my Giants prospects article. And this one probably should have been out a few weeks ago, but hey, I wasn't here yet! Lastly, a safe and happy holidays to one and all! -DS]

I don't know about everyone else, but to me, Giants radio broadcasts are about as good as it gets. Sure, they can potentially hinder homework and even personal relationships ("are you listening to me, or to that stupid radio again?!"), but man, if you're stuck in traffic, church, or some other predicament, what's better than listening to Duane Kuiper calling a postseason game?

Yes, this is of course a biased opinion, but I've been around enough to know that the Giants organization has had a great thing going with the people they've brought in to call their games for some time now. Let's look at four men who have manned the Giants airwaves, and have created their own waves of late:

Lon Simmons – Recently named as one of ten finalists for the Ford C. Frick Award (whose winner is granted entry into the National Baseball Hall of Fame). MLB's website referred to Lon as "a Bay Area institution" for broadcasting Giants, A's, and 49ers games for an amazing 44 years. Known for his deep baritone voice, dry humor, and his home run call of "way back, way back, way back, TELL IT GOODBYE!" Lon has called shots from Mays and McCovey to both Bondses, and is the only man to call games in all three San Francisco Giants stadiums (Seals Stadium, Candlestick Park, and Pac Bell Park).

Personally, I feel robbed, since my relatively young age only allowed me to listen to Lon for a very brief period before he retired a few seasons ago. Yet during the times I did hear him on the air (especially during the dog days of summer), the image of a grandfather sitting his young ‘ens on his lap and telling them the many wonderful stories of baseball came to mind. He is to the Bay Area what Vin Scully is to southern California, only in my humble opinion more witty and less, um, Dodger.

Hank Greenwald – Recently came out of retirement to accept the part-time position of A's lead television announcer. During the lean years of home attendance in the 1980s, it was often joked (in some cases half-joked) that fans would much rather stay home and listen to Hank call games rather than brave the elements of Candlestick Park. The former 16-year Giants broadcaster admitted in a recent Chronicle interview that he would have considered returning to the Giants, but that the team wasn't interested.

Why the Giants would take this position is beyond the comprehension of this fan, and this further fuels the perception that Greenwald and the Giants organization parted in less than amicable fashion. Sad, really – there is a whole generation of fans out there (including yours truly) who grew up listening to Hank, and think he is the benchmark of broadcasting excellence.

Greg Papa – became the newest member of the Giants broadcasting team this offseason. Talented and well-traveled, Papa had previously called games across the Bay with the A's, had stints with numerous NBA teams including the Golden State Warriors, and is also currently the voice of the Oakland Raiders.

With his smooth salesman-esque voice and crafty smile, Papa has often been a mystery to me – I never know when to take what he's selling seriously. But with the humor and wit already present in the Giants' broadcasting booth, he should fit in fine. At any rate, a vast improvement over. . .

Joe Angel – became expendable when the Giants elected to go with the duo of Greg Papa/Dave Flemming instead in '04. In addition to two stints with the Giants, Angel had previously called games for the Twins, Orioles, Yankees, and Marlins.

Angel was already under a microscope when the Giants brought him back in '02, since he was replacing the very talented Ted Robinson (on a side note: for as long as I live, I will contend the Giants' tankjob in '93 and Robinson's simultaneous departure from the Giants broadcast booth to announce the US Open tennis tournament was no coincidence. At the very least, Ted's absence made those losses that much harder to endure). And a smattering of KNBR listeners called in soon after the personnel news broke to back Angel's work behind the mic. But to this fan and presumably several others, the man was not up to par with the rest of the Giants radio crew, and his oft-confused homerun calls (initially the semi-plagiaristic "you can wave that bye-bye," then the cliché "hasta la vista, baby!") were an earsore to say the least. But in the spirit of the holidays, let's hope that Joe finds another job soon. In Guam.

Don Shin eats, breathes, thinks, and bleeds in Orange and Black. Pac Bell Park officially opened on his 25th birthday (the one year he decided to move out of the Bay Area!!!). For the 2000 playoff drive, he dyed his hair orange while studying in Korea. He watched Game 6 of the '02 World Series at a restaurant in LA, and couldn't finish his meal afterwards. Feel free to write him at dongsoo411@yahoo.com to commiserate, cheer, and complain.

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