Rob Stone is a sports commentator for Fox Sports. He has covered various sports including Major League Soccer, NCAA and NFL football, and ESPN's coverage of PBA Tournament Bowling alongside color commentator and PBA Hall of Famer Randy Pedersen.
Early life and career
A native of Simsbury, Connecticut, Stone is a 1991 graduate of Colgate University with a degree in English and was a player on the college's soccer team, captaining the squad his senior year. He was a member of Sigma Chi. Stone originally hired on at ESPN in 1992 as a production assistant, working on SportsCenter and other shows. The following year, Stone went to WFXL-TV in Albany, Georgia; he worked there two years as a sports anchor and later as sports director. In 1995 he went to WTOG in Tampa, Florida, as a weekend sports anchor and sports reporter, primarily covering stories on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has also worked as an analyst for the Tampa Bay Mutiny soccer team for SportsChannel Florida.
Stone returned to ESPN in the summer of 1997. He worked on select ESPN College Football and college basketball telecasts. He also worked on ESPN's Major League Soccer coverage and MLS Primetime Thursday, as well as their coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Stone was also one of the commentators for the 2006 World Series of Darts. In 2007, he became a regular contributor to big horse racing events. He covered the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes, the Irish Derby, the Breeders Cup and other key horse racing events. Stone left the telecasts after the Breeders Cup. On June 30, 2008, he appeared as a guest host on ESPN's Around the Horn. He substituted for Tony Reali as the host of the show while Reali was getting married.
Stone replaced Dave Ryan as the lead play-by-play announcer for PBA bowling telecasts on ESPN prior to the 2007–08 Denny's PBA Tour. He would continue in this position on PBA telecasts through the end of 2011, after which he left voluntarily to take a position with Fox Sports. He was replaced on the remaining (unrecorded) events for the 2011–12 season by veteran announcer Gary Thorne.
Stone originated the catchphrase "hambone!", which he took to shouting when any bowler rolled four strikes in a row in a game. (It was unknown to Stone that in some bowling circles, including USBC youth leagues, an actual hambone is two consecutive strikes rather than four.) According to an interview with Stone on PBA.com, the phrase started out as a fad when he casually asked color commentator Randy Pedersen on the air, "if three strikes is a 'turkey', why isn't there a name for four strikes?" Stone launched the hambone phrase in the following week's TV finals, and it soon took on a life all its own despite criticism from traditionalists, some media and (at first) even a few bowlers on the PBA tour. In the 2007 CLR Windy City Classic final between Brad Angelo and Robert Smith, Stone said to his fellow commentator, "I think I'm going to call four strikes in a row a hambone. I think I'm going to force it on bowling."
Though many bowlers were slow to embrace the catchphrase, it has become extremely popular with PBA management, and even more so with bowling fans who now bring "hambone" placards to flash on camera whenever someone rolls four straight strikes. In a February 17, 2008, match, Hall of Fame bowler Pete Weber, after rolling a fourth consecutive strike, pointed to Stone in the TV booth and shouted over the cheers, "Rob Stone, here's your hambone!" while performing his trademark chop. Even PBA's official bowling app, PBA Challenge, refers to four strikes as a hambone during game play.
In January, 2012, Stone left ESPN to take the position of lead studio host for Fox soccer broadcasts. He will host all soccer programs and events for Fox Sports Media Group (FSMG) stations, which include Fox Sports and FX. He later became studio host for Fox college football broadcasts.
- "The American" (proudly stamping reminders to all soccer viewers, listeners, players and future players, our stars are bright.)
- "Back on the strike train!" (sometimes said after a bowler rolls a strike following a spare or open frame.)
- "Drop and give me ten!" (sometimes when a bowler rolls a strike.)
- "Back-to-back jacks!" (when a bowler rolls two strikes in a row)
- "Show me those signs ...[city/state]!" (said after shouting "Hambone!")
- "YAHTZEE!!" or "Drops the nickel!" (5 strikes in a row)
- "Crack open the six-pack!" (six strikes in a row)
- "Adds the extra point to the touchdown." (seven strikes in a row)
- "The Bo Derek!" (ten strikes in a row; see 10 (film))
- "Messenger....!!" (a runaway pin about to hit another pin)
- "its 7 love" (on the first game of 2011 college football season)
- Flashing Hook 'Em horns on Oklahoma's sideline
Stone married Tampa Bay news reporter Lynn Carson on September 11, 1999; they have four children.