UW Health Sports Medicine 

'The Voice' with Matt Lepay

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The_Voice_Matt_Lepay_200.jpgFrom time to time, it never hurts to be reminded that being a sportscaster sure beats working.  For me, those reminders often come from broadcasters I have admired since my early days in the business.  

First, Vin Scully announced on Sunday he will return for another season in the broadcast booth. The 82-year-old Scully has been in this line of "work" for more than six decades, so why stop now? Scully's gift of calling a game and telling a story remain as strong as ever.

What makes him different from most baseball TV announcers is that Scully works alone. Normally I enjoy the banter of the play-by-play announcer and the color commentator. Scully is just fine without a broadcast partner, which is something I don't believe I could say about anyone else. That is no knock of the other baseball voices, as there are many I truly enjoy.

That list would include the Brewers crew of Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder. They do excellent work.  Yet to me there is something extra special about Scully. There are times when I will catch a Dodgers game on MLB.com just to listen to one of the masters of his craft.

Also on Sunday, I was tuning into the radio broadcast of the Brewers-Padres tilt from Miller Park. Bob Costas was in town, and he spent a couple of innings in the booth with Bob Uecker and Cory Provus. It was classic stuff. Costas, a longtime lover of brats and the always popular Secret Stadium Sauce, was claiming to be pacing himself. "Two brats and one Miller Lite," said Costas.

He followed that line with a list of other ballpark cuisine he was sampling, which led Uecker to say "Bob will be leaving the booth shortly, you can count on that.  You know what we say--what you eat here--let it stay here."  From there, Mr. Baseball went right into a live commercial read for Johnsonville Brats.

Uecker, who worked with Costas when NBC had Major League Baseball (including the 1995 and 1997 World Series), then coaxed his old partner to call a couple of innings. In the sixth, San Diego broke open the game at Manny Parra's expense. Costas was describing the action as Miguel Tejada smoked a two-run double. At the end of the call, Costas told his listeners that the crowd was starting to boo, adding "I'm bad luck." Uecker chimed in "Bob, don't take it personally. The booing will stop."  

Later, Costas noted his impromptu radio appearance will do as much for his career as "BASEketball," the 1998 motion picture where Costas plays the role of--oddly enough--Bob Costas. He reminded us that co-star Yasmine Bleeth was "somehow denied the Oscar" for her work in that movie.

On and on it went, making what could have been a sleepy Sunday afternoon baseball game a real treat. Even though the Brewers are suffering through a disappointing season, I'm thinking Provus went home convinced he has the world's best broadcasting gig.

The pace of baseball lends itself to such banter. I have often said the best play-by-play comes from baseball broadcasters. We can catch their act 162 times a year, and if we like them, they seem like a part of the family.

Hopefully that is true of other sportscasters (such as UW football, basketball, hockey, etc!), but baseball announcers, more than the rest of us, must have the ability to tell a story while describing the game.  Inform and entertain. Hopefully most in this business can at least do one or the other.

The best of the best can do both. Vin Scully falls in the latter category. So does Bob Uecker. So does Bob Costas. May they all continue to inform and entertain for many more years.

1 Comment

Great blog post! I really love listening to Ueck. It's one of the few sporting events I watch on TV with the radio, rather than the TV announcers. Nothing against BA, but when Daron was with the Crew, it seemed like he was a little more passionate.

I agree that baseball broadcasters become legends because of the grueling season. 162 games, half of a calendar year, and we get to listen to them nearly every day. Plus, the pace of baseball games lends itself well to random conversations about brats, etc.

Baseball aside, Wisconsin in general is lucky to have you, Mr. Lepay. I've been listening to you call games for as long as I can remember, (I'm 28 years old, so I really don't remember anyone else having your job) and you truly do feel like a family member.

And as a random side note, Jim Irwin & Max McGee were always a great pair as well. Loved listening to them call a Packers game.