Just in time for the start of the season! Courtesy of SABR’s Baseball and the Media Committee, the databases listing major league teams’ flagship TV and radio stations and announcers, as well as their radio station affiliates, have been updated and loaded into Google Drive for your perusing and research convenience.
The MLB Local Flagship_Announcer Database is a continuation of the work started by Maury Brown of Forbes.com over a decade ago, and is for all practical purposes the complete listing of every franchise’s radio and television broadcasters, both play-by-play and analyst, throughout big league ball’s broadcast history, beginning with 1921. Major changes for 2017 include the retirement of Vin Scully of the Dodgers, to be replaced by current Dodger broadcasters Joe Davis and Charley Steiner; the retirement of Dick Enberg of the Padres, to be replaced by Todd Kalas, formerly broadcaster of the Houston Astros; and the replacement of Matt Stairs as Phillies television analyst by semi-doppelgänger John Kruk. The file can be accessed by clicking on this link.
The Radio Station Affiliates Database was started by the Baseball and the Media Committee in 2013 and has been the historical record of teams’ radio affiliates since that season. Every year, dozens of affiliates come aboard, drop off, change call letters, or even change team alliances. This database covers recent seasons, although there are plans to expand the database to include historical seasons as well to the degree possible. Be sure to consult this database before you go on your next summer road trip so you never miss a pitch as you drive from city to city. This file can be accessed by clicking on this link. (Please note: four of the 30 MLB teams [Astros, Cardinals, Giants, Mets] did not have updated affiliates for the 2017 season as of 3/31/17. These teams are called out in red on the sheet, and the database will be updated once affiliates for these teams come available.)
If you notice any errors or omissions in either of these databases, please be sure to contact the Committee or this website with corrections.
Live, from the Viceroy of India on Devon Avenue in Chicago!
Well, no, not live. It’s recorded. But it is recorded at the Viceroy of India on Devon Avenue in Chicago, so … there’s that.
This new monthly podcast features a get-together and conversation about the latest news and hot-button issues in baseball, including media issues, from the perspective of four SABR members who by all rights should be too old to work this podcast thing-y:
Jim Walker, Professor Emeritus of Communication at Saint Xavier University in Chicago and author of the seminal baseball media books Center Field Shot and Crack of the Bat, detailing the history of baseball as broadcast on television and radio, respectively.
Thom Henninger, editor at Baseball Digest and author of Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend
Stuart Shea, author of Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines and Calling the Game: Baseball Broadcasting from 1920 to the Present (the latter book is free for SABR members)
And me, Chuck Hildebrandt, award-winning baseball researcher, cataloguer of Little League Home Runs, and Chair of SABR’s Baseball and the Media Research Committee
Each pod runs about 20-25 minutes, a length which fits quite nicely as a quick listen into your own lunch schedule.
As with any new periodic broadcast venture, the first episode is decent listen for a first try; the second episode is a better listen; and we can promise that the third episode will be even better still. So stay tuned for the next pod due out in early March.
We will let you know when the next episode is uploaded, but you can also be automagically informed by following Jim’s SoundCloud account. Just click the orange “Follow” button below:
The 2016 baseball season is now officially in the books, and in broadcasting terms, it was one of the most momentous in history. Two Ford Frick Award-winning broadcasters, Vin Scully (1982) and Dick Enberg (2015), have stepped away from their baseball mics for good and now head off to their next adventure. (Not for nothing, but Bill Brown, radio play-by-play man for the Astros for the past three decades, is also hanging up the mic, although he has not yet received the Ford Frick Award himself.)
Enberg had a great career, no doubt, but It is universally acknowledged that Scully had been, for a span of at least a decade and a half, the unchallenged, unquestioned dean of baseball broadcasters, mantles previously held by such luminaries as Red Barber, Bob Elson, Byrum Saam, Jack Brickhouse, Mel Allen, Harry Caray, Chuck Thompson, and Ernie Harwell.
Now that Scully is gone, and that Enberg and Brown have headed off into the sunset with him, we now need to contemplate who among the current mikemen should now be considered the Dean of Baseball Broadcasters. That’s what I am asking you, the reader, to do here today: vote for who you believe should take on that exalted title.
The Game is currently blessed with dozens of great, long-time baseball play by play and color commentators. In fact, no fewer than thirty current broadcasters have 30 or more years in the business, an unprecedentedly high number. Not all of them, of course, can qualify for Dean status. But in our opinion, the eight broadcasters who have 40 or more years of experience can qualify, so those are who we would like you to vote on today.
The eight on this ballot include:
Jaime Jarrín: With the Dodgers since 1959, he is the currently the longest-serving Spanish-language radio play-by-play broadcaster in history. In 1998, Jarrín received the Ford C. Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Dave Van Horne: Hired as the first Expos English-language radio play-by-play announcer in 1969. Moved to the Marlins in 2001. In 2011, was the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.
Denny Matthews: Hired in 1969 as the first (and still only) radio play-by-play announcer for Kansas City Royals. In 2007, was the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.
Bob Uecker: Began calling play-by-play for the Brewers’ radio broadcasts in 1971. In 2003, was the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.
Mike Shannon: Hired as radio color commentator by the Cardinals in 1972; became the lead voice after Jack Buck’s death in 2002.
Marty Brennaman: Reds radio play-by-play announcer since 1974. In 2000, was the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.
Ken Harrelson: Hired by the Red Sox in 1975 for the TV broadcasts, moving to the White Sox in 1982. Became White Sox GM for 1986, took up with Yankees TV in 1987 before settling in with White Sox TV broadcasts in 1989. “Hawk” was a Frick award finalist in 2007.
Jon Miller: Also well-traveled, first with the A’s for the 1974 season, and had subsequent tenures with the Rangers (1978), Red Sox (1980) and Orioles (1983) before landing with the Giants in 1997. In 2010, was the recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award.
And now is the time for you to vote for who you believe the Dean of broadcasters should be, below. You may vote for one, two or three broadcasters you believe deserve this august title. Teams and first year broadcasting are shown next to the nominees’ names.
There’s a great post over at the Classic TV Sports blog by Jeff Haggar (@classicTVsports) about the early years of televised coverage of the League Championship Series, during the time when the weekday games would run in the afternoon, and what would happen when the two series had games scheduled at the exact same time. Remember, there were no cable networks who could easily pick up that second game, so read below how this eventuality was handled.
You can read the article in full below, or read it on the original website here. By the way, if you are interested in the coverage of all sports (not just baseball) in years gone by, I’d recommend subscribing to Jeff’s blog.
TV coverage for the early years of the LCS (1969-1975)
Can you imagine a baseball playoff game with no national TV coverage? This actually happened multiple times during the early years of the League Championship Series.
MLB created divisions in 1969 and added the LCS playoff round. NBC held the national TV rights to these games, but its LCS coverage in those first years left much to be desired.
At the time, the best-of-5 LCS began on a Saturday for both leagues and NBC would kick things off with an afternoon doubleheader. Then things would get interesting. On Sunday, NBC typically selected one of the baseball games for a national telecast and presented a “football/baseball” doubleheader with regional NFL action at 1 pm and an LCS game at 4. The other LCS game was relegated to a local telecast. Neither MLB nor the NFL scheduled any games for Sunday night at the time.
When both leagues played on the same weekday, the starting times overlapped by 1.5 hours. NBC would televise one game in full in the early afternoon and then join the late game in progress.
The standard practice for NBC was to send its top announcer team of Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek to the weekend games of one LCS and then shift them to the opposite league for the weekday games. Jim Simpson handled play-by-play duties for the other series from 1969-1974 with Joe Garagiola filling that role in 1975. The “B” team analysts were Sandy Koufax (1969-1972) and Maury Wills (1973-1975).
During this era, MLB typically scheduled these playoff series with no off day for travel unless one of the teams was from the west coast. And the game times were fixed in advance with no provisions for moving a start later in the day if the other series ended early.
For example, check out the NBC TV schedule for the 1972 LCS round (all times ET):
Sat 10/7, Reds @ Pirates, NLCS game 1, 1 pm, Simpson, Koufax
Sat 10/7, Tigers @ Athletics, ALCS game 1, 4 pm, Gowdy, Kubek
Sun 10/8, Tigers @ Athletics, ALCS g2, 4 pm, Gowdy, Kubek
(Note: NBC did not carry NLCS g2 which started at 1 pm and was only televised locally.)
After the successful 1971 experiment to move one World Series game to prime time, MLB began scheduling all weekday World Series games at night. But for some reason, MLB continued to keep all the weekday LCS games in the afternoon. It wasn’t until 1975 that MLB moved any LCS game to prime time (when it provided regional coverage of game 3 of each series on a Tuesday night).
Because of the incomplete national TV coverage, NBC allowed the participating markets to carry the LCS telecasts using local announcers. So fans in those markets would have access to each game in its entirety (and had a choice of which telecast to watch when NBC also aired the game).
In 1976, for the first time, MLB placed each LCS game into a unique national TV window and scheduled one game for prime time each day including Sunday. The practice allowing for separate LCS telecasts with local announcers continued through 1983.
Sadly, very little NBC footage survived from these early LCS years. Much of 1973 NLCS game 1 exists as well as portions of the 1972 ALCS game 2 telecast.
Here is the earliest LCS footage I have found – a few clips of Gowdy calls from the 1969 NLCS:
Tyler Mason is a free agent sports writer who previously covered the Minnesota Twins Beat for Fox Sports North. Unfortunately, Mason’s narrative is far too common in sports journalism. Mason uses the hashtag #hiretyler to help him network for his next opportunity. He was nice enough to take some time to answer questions about his experiences working at FSN, his take on current trends in the media, and his next steps.
1. Could you talk a little bit about your background and how you became a sportswriter? Was there a certain moment or mentor who helped?
It wasn’t until the end of my freshman year that I got into sportswriting. I went to college thinking I might want to be a psychology major, but I took the intro psychology class and didn’t do so well in it. After taking the intro journalism class during the second semester of my freshman year, I went to one of our school newspapers in Madison and wrote a story (a men’s track preview) near the end of the year. I stuck with the paper after that and was there through my senior year, and fell in love with sports writing at that point.
2. I know that you already wrote a nice blog post about why working the All-Star Game was a career highlight for you. Is there something that you would like to add about it?
I’m not sure there’s much to add. Covering the All-Star Game was such a unique experience. There were so many great players in town, and so many media. I didn’t realize how much else went into that whole weekend – the Fan Fest, press conferences, concerts, etc. Just to be around all of that was something I’ll never forget.
3. I recently interviewed Steve Rushin for Twins Daily and he said “There is more good baseball writing than there has ever been, and I won’t list all the current people I read for space considerations and fear of leaving someone out.” Do you have favorite writers today that you admire locally, as well as nationally?
I agree with Steve that there is a ton of good writing nowadays. I don’t necessarily have a favorite writer, and I’ll admit that I don’t read as many baseball writers as I should. That’s something I would definitely like to do more of. I will say, speaking of Steve Rushin, that I’ve always enjoyed his work – perhaps because he’s a Minnesota native. I recently read a book by Dirk Hayhurst, the former big league pitcher. It was interesting to read a player’s perspective for once compared to a journalist’s. I’d say in general, it’s wise to try to read a wide range of stuff when it comes to sports writing, and baseball writing in particular.
4. Besides the obvious rule, “There is no cheering in the press box”, what is it like working the baseball press box? How is it different from other sports?
I enjoy the baseball press box. There’s usually plenty of discussion regarding the game, and decisions made within it. As far as how it relates to other sports, I’d say there’s more interaction between, the writers in a baseball press box compared to basketball, football or hockey. Perhaps that’s because of how much down time there is in a baseball game. The rest of the Twins media are generally pretty easy to get along with, and we all enjoy each other’s company. It’s not as cutthroat as other media markets like New York, Boston, or Los Angeles.
5. My roommate is a sophomore journalism major at the University of Minnesota Duluth. What advice do you have for him and other recent graduates wanting to follow your career path?
Try to find an internship or two that will include some valuable experience. I interned with MLB.com in 2009 and am so glad I did, as I learned a lot about the business during that time. I’d also advise to be active on social media, perhaps even starting a personal blog. Also, network as much as possible. Send e-mails to other writers or try to get to know people in the industry if at all possible. Sometimes, it’s not what you know, but who you know.
6. There is a tweet that caught my attention. Why do you think there are so many free agent sports writers? Does it happen more in baseball? Or is common in sports overall?
I don’t think it’s specific to any sport. Unfortunately, the nature of the journalism business is that turnover/layoffs are bound to happen. You see it in newspapers far too often, but it doesn’t necessarily happen in just one sport.
7. How have companies like Inside Edge, The SportsXchange, Sportradar and the Associated Press impacted the baseball media industry?
I think it’s great that there are more outlets covering baseball today that in the past. The SportsXchange and the Associated Press are pretty similar in their coverage (more game stories and news, not as much analysis), while other sites offer different perspectives. With analytics and sabermetrics becoming such a big part of baseball, it’s great to see other sites embracing that aspect of the game. Baseball fans have more options than ever for gathering their information, and that can only help grow the game.
8. If you cannot get another baseball media job, where do you think your skills would translate well into another non-sports or media field? I see you wrote about becoming a travel writer for example?
I did indeed blog about travel writing, although that was more of a pipe dream than anything. I’d love to find something in the writing field, but those options are limited. I also have a strong social media background, so I feel those skills could translate as well – not just within the sports realm. I am open to branching out beyond the sports scene.
9. Do you have anything new in the works? Perhaps a book?
Nothing new in the works right now, unfortunately. I did write a few books for Red Line Editorial, but they are both geared towards elementary aged children. One is on the history of the Rose Bowl, while the other is a football trivia book. I hope to continue writing/blogging in some respect, although I’m not sure how often at this point.
Ever wonder what it is like to be a broadcaster for a lower level minor league team? That’s what this story from Paul Franklin for the Times of Trenton seeks to shine a light on as he speaks to the two young fellows who do the games on radio for the Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate for the New York Yankees.
You might think that a broadcaster of a Double-A team might actually be able to make a living to some degree of comfort. That might be true of some broadcasters of some Double-A teams, but not for the Thunder’s radio team of Adam Giardino and Jon Mozes. They are young men in their twenties using this gig as a way-station along the roads of their respective careers, which comes through clearly in the piece, who is reproduced below. Alternately, you can read the piece on the original website at nj.com here.
Broadcast passion comes across loud and clear | Trenton Thunder
By Paul Franklin | For The Times of Trenton
TRENTON – Days off are rare, if at all. From early April to early September, Adam Giardino and Jon Mozes are in the broadcast booth doing Trenton Thunder baseball games.
Some baseball fans probably feel they are off every day in a job like that.
Of course, there have been bus rides that would challenge such opinions; like when Giardino worked for the Lakewood BlueClaws and had a 12.5-hour trip to Kannapolis, N.C. Or for Mozes, when a trip from Winnipeg that began at 2 a.m. turned into a 16-hour ride when the bus broke down. An independent baseball team was heading to Gary, Ind., and wound up getting caught in Chicago’s evening rush hour.
Mozes, from Philadelphia, played the game into college and loved listening to Harry Kalas doing Phillies games on radio. Giardino’s parents painted a mural of the Green Monster in his bedroom, and even today when he returns home in the off-season he sleeps in a room painted like Fenway Park. Tupperware protects thousands of baseball cards in the basement.
Each was introduced to announcing as a direct result of their passion for sports; appropriately enough by teachers who happened to be good listeners.
“My high school teacher who was the girls’ basketball coach realized my passion for sports and told me I should take videos and do commentary of their games and submit it to the town-run TV station.”
He did, and that suggestion would pay dividends when Giardino enrolled at the University of Connecticut in 2007. Immediately contacting the student station on campus, WHUS, 91.3 FM, within a week he was doing men’s soccer.
Majoring in Journalism and Communications, he would eventually cover the men’s basketball team making a national championship run, as well as calling the Fiesta Bowl game against Oklahoma with a crowd of 60,000 keeping him fired up.
Mozes had a similar introduction to sports media when he was a freshman at the University of New Haven. The dorm Residence Assistant was also campus radio director, and after hearing Mozes talking sports, asked if he would be interested in doing color for the women’s basketball team: WNHU, 88.7 FM.
“I wasn’t sure of my career,” said Mozes, who majored in Sports Management. “By the time sophomore year was over it was pretty clear.”
Internships would follow throughout college; Mozes had stints with ESPN Radio (Hartford affiliate) and the 76ers. Giardino landed a summer job in Pawtucket; Boston’s Triple-A affiliate just outside of Providence.
Being in the right place at the right time can be as crucial as in any profession, and so it was when two weeks before Giardino graduated the media relations intern with the PawSox left. With no job prospects, the kid’s first paying job would be just 30 minutes from where he grew up.
Meanwhile, Mozes, a year behind Giardino, landed his first gig in Abilene, Texas, as an assistant broadcaster. Not all the games were played, however, as the league ran out of money.
“Was making $400 a month,” Mozes said with a smile.
Returning home, he dabbled in part-time opportunities; some Rider University women’s basketball, Montgomery (Pa.) County high school football and Gwynedd Mercy University men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Giardino would go from Pawtucket to Lakewood, and in 2012 flew to Nashville to work the room at Baseball’s Winter Meetings.
Making connections there would land Giardino the Thunder job in 2013, where he is now Broadcast/Media Relations Manager.
Mozes followed Giardino’s path to the Winter Meetings a year later in Orlando, and that in part led to him being hired part-time last year by the Thunder. When the No. 2 guy left in mid-season, Mozes stepped into the assistant’s position.
Giardino goes solo on road games, but the 71 home games are split over the air; one doing play-by-play and the other color.
“Harry Kalas,” Mozes said, meaning Phillies games on TV or radio.
Mercer County resident Tom McCarthy used to do Thunder radio and is now the TV play-by-play guy for the Phillies. The radio booth at ARM & HAMMER Park is named in McCarthy’s honor.
Giardino wants to return to his roots, doing radio at a Division I program for football and men’s basketball.
“I romanticize more with a job where you get to be excited when a school does well and accomplishes things. At ESPN you get to be excited about the game, but you don’t necessarily care who wins. They want the exciting outcome; the Hail Mary pass to always be caught, the half-court shot to always go in. I’d rather be tied to and emotionally invested in whatever school.”
Mozes agreed about coving a team as opposed to having a producer talk in your ear.
So by the nature of the business, they will continue to grab opportunities season by season, hoping eventually to grab the proverbial brass ring.
Mozes, one of three boys in the family (including a twin), will continue at Rider and Gwynedd, and do some public address announcing for the University of Pennsylvania; staying close to home for now. Giardino recently landed the play-by-play job for Dartmouth football, and in winter will handle color for Holy Cross men’s basketball in Worcester, Mass.; again close to home.
Giardino actually had a visit from his older brother, Sean, last week, a talented musician who stopped by to entertain fans by playing the organ at ARM & HAMMER Park for two nights during games. His full-time job is an engineer for the Long Island Rail Road.
“We have two jokes in the family,” Giardino. “One, my brother is the only guy who drives a train with a Master’s in Music Education. The second is that if you took a snapshot in our house 20 years ago, I’d be sitting there with my baseball cards and he’d be playing with his trains. Twenty years later it’s the exact, same, thing.”
Shortly after it was announced that the Red Sox are going to dump Don Orsillo, their long-time play-by-play voice, from their telecasts on NESN, the tributes started coming in, and the outrage within Red Sox nation started boiling over.
Boston.com, the Internet arm of the venerable Globe newspaper, provided a nice historical overview of top Bosox broadcasters that fans throughout New England have bonded with, resurrecting such names as Jim Britt, Tom Hussey, Curt Gowdy, Ned Martin and some of the younger whippersnappers, which you can read here:
Play-by-play announcers enjoy special place in Red Sox Nation
Jerry Thornton, a sometimes stand-up comedian who appears regularly on the The Dale & Holley Show on WEEI-FM, posted a nice retrospective of Orsillo’s funniest moments on his blog on the station’s website, featuring his five favorites. This one is my personal favorite, since it makes good fun of Jerry Remy’s Masshole accent:
You can read his post and see the other clips here:
TRIBUTE TO DON ORSILLO’S FUNNIEST NESN MOMENTS
The other side of the coin from tribute is outrage, and there is no shortage of that here, either. The Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy casts this incident as just another of a series of botched moves in a lost season that have culminated in the firing of Larry Lucchino and Ben Cherington as well:
With Don Orsillo news, Red Sox drop the ball again
Alex Reimer over at Boston Magazine believes that this firing was not just a dumb move by a clueless organization. He maintains that this change is a calculated move that “could signal a dark, propaganda-filled turn for Red Sox telecasts.”
Don Orsillo’s NESN Departure Is the Biggest Loss of the Red Sox Season
Meanwhile, one of the eggheads over the Bston’s NPR affiliate, WBUR (OK, E. M. Swift was a writer at SI for for three decades, but still … 😀 ) makes very clear that even while he is largely unimpressed with practically every other announcer he’s ever heard—including Vin Scully, for cry eye!—Don Orsillo is the very best he has ever heard. Ever.
Another Loss For The Sox: An Appreciation Of Ousted Play-By-Play Announcer Don Orsillo
Most of all, though, it is the fan base that have been making themselves heard in the only way they can: through social media. Head on over to Twitter:
By now it’s pretty well known—even by people who don’t care about baseball, media, or baseball media—that Curt Schilling made a horrible decision to tweet the following:
Schilling did not create the meme in question—he “merely” tweeted it out. I put the word merely in quotes because the gravity of his action is hardly mitigated even by the realization that he merely agrees with the sentiment enough to repeat it publicly, rather than authoring the sentiment himself.
You can’t see the tweet live anymore, since Schilling has deleted it from his feed. Too late to reverse the condemnation he has received, of course, but at least he’s not doubling down on the sentiment by maintaining its presence on his feed or, worse, tripling down on it by defending or flaunting it, as some might.
As a result of this loose cannon act, Schilling swiftly lost his job as an analyst on ESPN’s Little League World Series baseball telecasts. Swiftly as in same day.
Now comes word that Schilling’s punishment by ESPN is extending to his regular gig on their Sunday Night Baseball telecasts as well, as The Worldwide Leader announced late last night that Schilling is being pulled from this week’s Cubs-Dodgers tilt. No word yet on whether the ban will extend beyond this week, but it’s hard to envision Schilling returning to the booth any time this year, given how raw the original story is at the moment. There’s a lot of noise surrounding Curt Schilling right now, and if there’s one thing megabillion multinational media and entertainment companies despise, its noise of exactly this type.
Curt Schilling is a very smart man, so he had the good sense (and decency) to express a feeling resembling remorse over his bad decision:
I understand and accept my suspension. 100% my fault. Bad choices have bad consequences and this was a bad decision in every way on my part.
— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) August 25, 2015
This tweet occurred the same day as his LLWS telecast suspension. It is, at the moment of this post’s publication, his most recent tweet, so we do not yet know publicly his reaction to his removal from this Sunday’s telecast.
Now, articulating “my bad” for expressing an opinion is not the same as feeling shame for having the opinion in the first place. Schilling must certainly understand that difference, and while I can’t read the man’s mind, it strikes me as doubtful that he feels any differently about Muslims (extremist or not) today than he did two days ago. But the bar at hand does not extend as high as prohibiting the most secret thoughts and opinions a man might want hold in his head. It extends only to expressing them in a public forum. In America and most of the rest of the First World, you have the freedom to express such thoughts, but that freedom does not extend to exemption from the consequences of expressing them.
Schilling is smart also because, unlike some knuckleheads imploring him to “NEVER apologize for telling the truth especially if the PC bullies don’t like it“, he understands that when you are the public face of a very high profile organization, the thoughts you express for public consumption, even in your off hours, reflect on the organization you’re associated with. Schilling does not work 24 hours a day seven days a week, but The Walt Disney Companydoes, so there is no off-hours period of freedom from his public representation of them. Plus, The Mouse as a corporation has accountability to an international and multicultural audience that extends far beyond defending the right of their employees and representatives to publicly express whatever they believe their truths to be, never mind any obligation to maintain their full status in good standing within the corporation afterwards.
Whether this will cost Schilling any chance to work a booth at any point in the future is still unclear. What is clear is that any sports broadcasting concern interested in maintaining politics-free output will think twice about hiring someone who, intelligent though he may be, has a history of exhibiting poor impulse control and bad judgment when it comes to putting his innermost political thoughts out there for the purpose of the entire world enjoying them.