The Worst Announcer You've Never Heard Of
I was originally going to write about one-time WEEI/WRKO Red Sox radio color man Glenn Geffner, but his time in the area, though awful, was short-lived. So I've decided to call out a sports radio legend in my home state of Maine.
Considering all the Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan submissions are coming, I know I won't win, but here we go.
If I wrote this article in the Bangor Daily News, our local paper, I would surely find an angry lynch mob with pitchforks and torches at my door by this evening. In fact, my fellow Mainer and FanIQ buddy joebloom might get a little mad at me. Maybe he agrees? Who knows.
You see, in my city, George Hale is as beloved a personality in this town as Stephen King. For 50 years, he has been a familiar voice on WABI-AM (AM 910) radio, doing everything from high school basketball to harness racing. His most recent position is the lead play-by-play man for University of Maine football on WABI-TV (CBS Channel 5). This man is so famous his pants have been retired. He is also the worst sports announcer I have ever heard.
George Hale is 76 years old, but his droning, tortured voice has been the same since as long as I can remember. It has very little to do with the man's age and more to do with the fact that most Mainers probably don't care. You have to ask yourself why a man born in Cleveland, Ohio, who grew up in Jacksonville, Florida and New York City wouldn't be able to get a better gig than announcing Division I-AA football games, high school basketball, and harness racing in Bangor, Maine for 50 years?
His UMaine football broadcasts are painful. This man misses player names and numbers more than Tony Kornheiser. He stammers and searches for the names of plays being run as if he's becoming senile right before our ears. He talks about football formations that haven't been used since Jim Thorpe played with Carlisle Indian. His tone drones on like he's telling his grandkids a story and he's about to fall asleep himself. It's the only college football TV broadcast that would score highly with the deceased demographic.
Nobody says anything around here because he's one of the most recognizable sports figures in the state. It's almost like that one racist grandfather that fought in the war so people excuse his offensive slurs and ramblings because he "lived in a different time". George Hale is a good man, knowledgable about sports, and a community fixture, but his play-by-play is just unbearable.
I've been frantically looking for some audio of his I could embed but I can't find any. So I guess the best way I can describe his voice is take the late Skip Caray from Braves games on TBS, where the Braves are down 15-0 in the 8th inning, and Skip's taken 3 Vicodin. Then you'd be close. George Hale is too young to sound so tired.
Interestingly enough, George Hale was a mentor to ESPN/ABC and sometimes Versus play by play announcer Gary Thorne, who is one of my favorites. Thorne does an amazing job at capturing the moment with excitement and electricity. It's the exact opposite with Hale. I don't think I've heard his voice inflect much during a UMaine touchdown. He works for the home team station too, it's not like he has to remain impartial.
Good man, good sports fan, overrated announcer.
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