3 innings at a time
April 1, 2021 4:03 PM   Subscribe

30 years ago when I'd watch local baseball games and/or listen to them on the radio, the play-by-play guys would rotate between radio and TV in 3-inning intervals. Why? Do they still do this?

Astros games on the radio would start with Milo Hamilton for 3 innings, then he'd go over to do TV for 3 innings and Bill Brown would come to radio, then they'd switch back for the last 3 innings. I think Harry Caray on WGN and the Braves guys on TBS did something similar (or did first half/second half). I think the analysts stayed put.

1. Do local broadcasters still do this?
2. Why?
posted by Huffy Puffy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)
For the TV to radio rotation, Dodgers did this starting in 2012 because everyone on Earth wanted to listen to Vin, so we got him for the first three innings on both the radio and TV to give the people what they wanted. Then, from innings 4 through the end, we had to listen to Rick and Monday and Charlie Steiner.

This was part of a long retirement plan for Vin, as he'd had been doing the Dodger broadcasts for 60 years by then, and he was starting to not do the further road games by then.

Now with Joe Davis and Orel Hershiser doing the TV stuff, they are back to a separation of TV crew and radio crew.

Before 2012, it was mostly just the same audio for both TV and radio. Although for decades, and I barely remember this, there would be a single announcer that would switch between innings. Although, by the time I was really paying attention to baseball games, it was almost always just Vin. At some point they brought in the now common duo of "play by play guy and color commentary guy", which was Rick Monday and for color and for a long time it was Charlie for play by play.
posted by sideshow at 4:40 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

The Mariners used to do this, and maybe still do, but we don't have cable so we can't watch them on TV and don't listen on the radio. As with Vin, everyone wanted to hear Dave Neihaus back in the day, but I think they did it long after he passed away as well (maybe because everyone loved Rick Rizz as much as they loved Neihaus?).
posted by lhauser at 5:49 PM on April 1, 2021

My prime baseball-on-the-radio days started right after Harry Caray died, and the Cubs did not do this then (Checking Wikipedia, Pat Hughes started in 1996 and I don't remember Cubs radio pre-Pat Hughes clearly at all. Harry Caray died Februac 1998).

I do remember some times when Ron Santo was ill when we'd get an injured Kerry Wood or whoever for three innings (he was deathly boring, as I recall), maybe three innings of Steve Stone jumping over from the TV broadcast and then three innings of Pat Hughes solo, but it was always clear this was a backup plan. Ron Santo had a heart attack in, I want to say, 1999. (That would line up with the injured Kerry Wood, but they got Randy Hundley in to do commentary for much of that summer.) This is memorable for me because I was at sleepaway camp and could pick up WGN at night and I remember hearing Steve Stone's voice and knowing something was wrong because he didn't belong on the radio.
posted by hoyland at 6:40 PM on April 1, 2021

Just to confirm, the Braves absolutely did this through the 90s and into at least the early 2000s (after which I stopped paying attention), though it was first half/second half rather than 3 innings.
posted by griseus at 6:45 PM on April 1, 2021

Longtime Cubs fan here who can confirm that Harry Caray did go to radio for the middle 3 and Thom (“as there's a drive into deep left field by Castellanos. It will be a home run. So that will make it a 4-0 ball game”) Brennaman would come in. Currently on WGN radio Pat Hughes will take a break and Zach Zaidman will come in for a couple of innings, and I read that Marquee Sports has plans this season to bring Pat into the TV booth for the middle innings for at least a few games. It’s usually the play by play guys switching and not the color.

No idea why, I’m guessing it’s to get the popular broadcasters airtime on both formats.
posted by Fuego at 7:20 PM on April 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I know the Yankees did this back before they were on the YES network (cable). Why? I always thought it was to give all the announcers the chance to be on TV. Also kept it a little fresher. Can repeat a story in the 4th inning you told in the 2nd inning if you are on a different medium.

I miss Phil Rizzuto, Bill White and Frank Messer. Also Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner (Mets) Kiner's Korner after the game was great.
posted by AugustWest at 9:48 PM on April 1, 2021

The Tigers (Ernie Harwell & Paul Carey until the early 1990s) used to do this. I once asked a WJR engineer why, and he said that it was to give Ernie a break from calling every play. Paul wasn't really a color commentator as they are now understood, but a competent play-by-play guy in his own right who was also the in-booth engineer for the broadcasts. (The TV and radio teams were pretty separate in Detroit, but then, the TV guys were George Kell and Al Kaline, who were both very good at both play-by-play and color. I seem to recall that they'd swap roles, but I don't remember if it was regular, or just when one got tired of doing play-by-play. )

The current Tigers broadcast teams (Dan Dickerson and Jim Price on the radio, Matt Shepard and Jack Morris/Kirk Gibson on TV) don't swap, I think because the former players aren't as comfortable doing play-by-play as Carey and Kaline were.
posted by jlkr at 3:45 PM on April 2, 2021

« Older New programming language?   |   WordPress Theme Recommendation Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.