Tompkins was born and raised in San Francisco.
KCBS, KPIX, WNBC, NBC Sports and KRON
In 1974, he moved to New York to join WNBC-TV as a sports anchor and feature reporter, before moving to NBC Sports in 1975 to host weekly radio shows as well as television play-by-play for basketball and football. Tompkins spent five years at NBC.
Tompkins returned to San Francisco in 1978 and joined then-NBC affiliate KRON-TV as sports director, while continuing to cover Pac-10 basketball for NBC as well as feature stories for its NFL pre-game show. He left KRON in 1980 to join the then-fledgling cable channel HBO.
At HBO, Tompkins joined HBO Boxing, with Larry Merchant and Sugar Ray Leonard. He called fights at HBO for many years and some of his commentaries became famous, such as his call when Alexis Argüello was hurt by Aaron Pryor in round fourteen of their Battle of the Champions (Arguello...oh! Arguello is hurt!!), when Héctor Camacho was buckled by Edwin Rosario in round five of their fight (Camacho had never been hurt before!) and when Mike Tyson won the WBC world Heavyweight title with a second-round knockout of Trevor Berbick (And we have a new era in boxing.). Tompkins also co-hosted HBO's baseball program, Race for the Pennant.
Rocky IV and ESPN
Tompkins made his acting debut in 1985, when he portrayed a USA Network sportscaster during the Rocky Balboa-Ivan Drago fight in Rocky IV. Later he moved to the ESPN network, where he did play-by-play on Thursday Night Fights alongside Al Bernstein. He also did college basketball, The French Open and many other tennis tournaments, the Tour De France, World Track and Field and Swimming and Diving Championships as well as the World Gymnastics Championships. During that time he continued to be "The Voice" of Pac 10 (now 12) Conference football for various syndicators. Tompkins spent eight years at ESPN.
In 1995 Tompkins left ESPN to join Fox Sports as the play-by-play announcer of Sunday Night Fights, and he began traveling through the United States alongside Sean O'Grady and Rich Marotta. Tompkins continued as the lead play-by—play commentator of FSN's coverage of Pac-12 football with Petros Papadakis and basketball with Dan Belluomini, Marques Johnson, Don MacLean and Ernie Kent through 2011. He also commentated much of FSN's poker coverage, including the Aussie Millions and Poker Dome Challenge. Tompkins spent fourteen years at Fox Sports.
Western Athletic Conference
In July 2011 it was announced that Tompkins would leave Pac-12 football broadcasts and instead be the new play-by-play man for the WAC Sports Network, going into its second season. Tompkins' fight duties and college basketball games with FSN continued. Tompkins called nine broadcasts with Joe Glenn during the 2011 season.
Mountain West Conference
The WAC Sports Network folded after 2011 allowing Tompkins to become a free agent in terms of college football sports broadcasting for 2012. He was hired by the Mountain West Conference to serve as their #1 play-by-play broadcaster for the new MWC regional package on Time Warner Cable SportsNet (started after Mtn folded after spring 2012). He was assigned Jay Leeuwenburg as his color analyst.
ShoBox and ShoExtreme
In 2013, he joined the faculty at Dominican University of California as a professor for the university's Communications Department.
He continues to do college football and basketball for Time-Warner Network and Comcast.
- "Barry David Tompkins, Born 05/02/1940 in California". CaliforniaBirthIndex.org. Retrieved 25 July 2022.
- Jenkins, Bruce (12 May 2020). "Barry Tompkins at 80: a sportscasting career worth remembering". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 25 July 2022.
- Stewart, Larry (11 March 1988). "After Leaving ABC, Lampley Is Able to Put It All Together". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 May 2022.
- International Boxing Hall of Fame / BWAA Awards Archived 2008-06-17 at the Wayback Machine
- "WSN Names 2011 Football Announcers". 2011-07-18. Archived from the original on 2012-03-25.
- "BARRY TOMPKINS IN, STEVE ALBERT OUT AT SHOWTIME". BOXINGTALK. Archived from the original on 2014-09-06. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
- "Emmy Award-winning broadcaster joins communications department".
- Mogensen, Jackie (17 May 2017). "One of the guys: How Bay Area writer Joan Ryan 'made it' in sports journalism". Peninsula Press. Retrieved 25 July 2022.
- "When her son nearly died, Joan Ryan learned to celebrate him 'as is'". Marin Independent Journal. 20 April 2009. Retrieved 25 July 2022.