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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

MLB ’19: Longtime baseball voices going, going, almost gone

Steve Blass spent his boyhood afternoons in Connecticut flinging a rubber ball against the side of a half-barn, fantasizing that he was pitching in the majors. Come evening, the 10-year-old would get his radio and tune into a game, delighted when Mel Allen’s voice crackled from the transistor.

“When I thought ‘baseball,’ I thought about Mel Allen,” said Blass, now a Pittsburgh Pirates announcer. “When I thought ‘Mel Allen,’ I thought about baseball.”

More than in any other sport, baseball broadcasters become an inseparable part of the game they describe. Their voices are the backdrop to all those warm summer nights. Their distinctive calls are part of the game’s lore. Fans visualize the action through their stories and descriptions.

A consideration of baseball announcing at a moment of transition.

 

QLE Posted: March 20, 2019 at 07:42 AM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcing, retirement, steve blass

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   1. DL from MN Posted: March 20, 2019 at 10:00 AM (#5823956)
The transition happened many years ago. We are seeing the tail end of these broadcasters. You know what? It's okay.

I remember seeing a photo of a telegraph scoreboard putting up World Series results in the Ken Burns documentary. It looked remarkably similar to GameCast. What is old is new again. People will continue to look for audio broadcasts of baseball games, they will just get them in new distribution channels.
   2. Jay Rock Posted: March 20, 2019 at 11:10 AM (#5823978)
I grew up listening to Marty and Joe. Also spent summer nights trying to catch broadcasts from Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh. Could sometimes catch Atlanta, Philly, and New York. Good times.
   3. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: March 20, 2019 at 11:53 AM (#5823992)
Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy...who transitioned nicely to Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez and Howie Rose.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: March 20, 2019 at 11:58 AM (#5823997)
Lindsey Nelson, Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy

this was the Mets broadcast team from Day One in 1962 through the end of the 1970s.
it was nice to grow up with the same trio - that's even more rare than one longtime voice.
   5. winnipegwhip Posted: March 20, 2019 at 01:22 PM (#5824027)
Frank Messer and Bill White....

just had to say their names considering what Yankee fans endure today.
   6. PepTech Posted: March 20, 2019 at 01:23 PM (#5824028)
After Dave Neihaus passed, the M's broadcast team became much less interesting. Seems like a revolving door of broadcasters. They tend to swap around on TV and radio, and come and go. Does anyone out there listen to some youngish guy that you can imagine being a 20+ year beloved presence?
   7. majorflaw Posted: March 20, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5824057)
“Does anyone out there listen to some youngish guy that you can imagine being a 20+ year beloved presence?”

Sure, Len Kasper. Not a Cubs fan but Kasper and DeShaies are about the best around post-Scully.
   8. Master of the Horse Posted: March 20, 2019 at 02:37 PM (#5824061)
Has Uke discussed how much longer he plans on doing Brewer broadcasts? Dude still sounds great though sure he does the old man lose track of #### stuff now and again. And Brewer fans say when he seems to be calling a dinger and then goes CAUGHT! being Uked. Still pretty good and that's ignoring he's 85(!).
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 20, 2019 at 02:38 PM (#5824062)
Seconded. I would be very happy if the Cubs can keep Kasper and Deshaies together for 20+ years. Assuming neither of them has a traumatic injury and goes all Harrelson on us, of course.
   10. Brian Posted: March 20, 2019 at 03:03 PM (#5824076)
Sometime in the 80's the Yankees had Hank Greenwald and Tommy Hutton for a few years. They were great to listen to but they ticked George off by not being shameless homers. Shortly thereafter the plague hit and their radio is unlistenable.
   11. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: March 20, 2019 at 04:46 PM (#5824105)
If you're lucky as a fan your team has an ex-player in the booth who has a point of view and is naturally witty like Uke, Stone, Deshaies, Hernandez, & Darling and who meld well with the PBP guy. Unfortunately most teams are stuck with an interchangeable, cliche spouting jock and some generic Syracuse U-type broadcasting grad.
   12. Bote Man Posted: March 20, 2019 at 04:51 PM (#5824109)
Well, I mean...Blass--Steve Blass was never really a cast--a broadcaster. There's a fly ball to center field, foul. I found him to be...to be...I really didn't like listening to him much. Is that the right word, "listen"? I guess hearing would be a better term--uh, word. And now they've walked him on...uh, 2 pitches. But it's Pittsburgh so you get what you can take--uh, take what you can get.
   13. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 20, 2019 at 05:02 PM (#5824114)
If you're lucky as a fan your team has an ex-player in the booth who has a point of view and is naturally witty like Uke, Stone, Deshaies, Hernandez, & Darling and who meld well with the PBP guy. Unfortunately most teams are stuck with an interchangeable, cliche spouting jock and some generic Syracuse U-type broadcasting grad.
Right now, my favorite announcing team is/was* limited to Dodgers road radio: Rick Monday on PBP with Kevin Kennedy as color.

Monday is a decent PBP man, certainly better than his other booth partner, Charley Steiner. (When it's those two, Charley takes PBP with Monday moving over to color. Steiner, as you may know, is notoriously awful on action plays. He's so bad, I find him literally unlistenable. Funny thing is, if the Steiner/Monday team swapped roles, it would be a quality pair.)

Kennedy certainly knows his way around the game, and he's always passing along little bits of insight: a catcher tipping pitches by setting up behind the plate in a certain way; how a team's pitch selection is working against the shifting of the defense.

But you get those two in the same booth, and they get so amusingly GRUMPY. Their irritation isn't "Back in my day" bullshit, but more of an eagerness to call out shitty baseball when they see it. It's like Statler and Waldorf are calling the game. For a half-inning, they roasted then-CIN Joey Votto because the dead outfield grass under his feet showed he never shifted. Isn't often they work together, but it's fun when they do.

* - Been this way for the last 2-3 seasons, but I'm not sure what the plans are for 2019.
   14. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 20, 2019 at 05:23 PM (#5824121)
unfortunately, I had to grow up listening to Bob Neal and Jimmy Dudley in Cleveland. Even as a 10-year old, I knew Dudley was an idjit
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 20, 2019 at 05:32 PM (#5824126)
For a half-inning, they roasted then-CIN Joey Votto because the dead outfield grass under his feet showed he never shifted.
I'm trying to read this sentence in a way that doesn't mean you or they think Joey Votto is an outfielder who is no longer with the Reds.
   16. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: March 20, 2019 at 07:51 PM (#5824147)
Dammit, I meant Jay Bruce.
   17. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 20, 2019 at 07:52 PM (#5824148)
If you were in LA in the 80's, you got the holy trinity of announcers.

Vin Scully-Dodgers
Chick Hearn-Lakers
Bill King-Raiders

You'd be very hard pressed to find 3 guys better then these guys and to get them on the radio all year long for whatever sport you wanted to listen was just joy to the ears.
   18. Baseballs Most Beloved Figure Posted: March 20, 2019 at 08:00 PM (#5824150)
If you were in LA in the 80's, you got the holy trinity of announcers.

Vin Scully-Dodgers
Chick Hearn-Lakers
Bill King-Raiders


Don't forget Hall of Famer Bob Miller who was with the LA Kings for 44 years. Also, Bob Lawler who has been with the Clips since 1978 wasn't too shabby either.
   19. PepTech Posted: March 21, 2019 at 01:20 AM (#5824195)
Seattle, for awhile, had Kevin Calabro for the Sonics, Dave Neihaus for the Mariners, Bob Rondeau for Husky basketball and football, and Pete Gross for the Seahawks (until he died of cancer in 1992). Calabro and Neihaus, in particular, are inner circle HOFers.

Former WR Steve Raible took over for Gross and has been solid ever since. But the Sonics went away, Neihaus died around 2010, and Rondeau has finally retired. The new guys can mostly get off my lawn.

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