Thirteen or so years ago, I went to dinner with a young Jason Benetti … well, we were all so much younger then. Jason was working as a broadcaster for the Syracuse Chiefs then. I was writing for Sports Illustrated. We were in Rochester, N.Y., for the oh-so-wild Stephen Strasburg ride; the Washington Nationals had just taken Strasburg with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and Strasburg was being called the greatest pitching prospect in the history of baseball.
“It should be said that Jason was and is a very positive announcer; that’s why I put “positive” in quotations. What many people in baseball management want is a happy-talk cheerleader who will gush about the team no matter the circumstances, and it’s a stupid wish, because most fans have no interest in that.”
There’s a list of pro franchise announcers — quite a few in NBA — who call games like this. Have to turn off the sound on broadcast bc their gushing and fawning is so loathsomely distracting.
Thanks Jason! Love to find announcers who simply CALL THE GAME AS IT IS.
Watching Utah-UW game and I saw the announcers at halftime and recognized Jason’s name from your article. Thanks for bringing this man’s story to our attention. He’s obviously a very skilled and versatile announcer besides being an inspiration.
Another example of an owner unwilling to get out of his ways!Tigers got a good one!
I love Jason Benetti, I loved his work with Steve Stone (and all the other pairings, across various sports) --congrats to him, and thank you for this excellent post about him!!
Detroit under Scott Harris is building something special and Jason is a perfect choice to be part of that.
Every season, I miss hearing Jon Miller calling O’s games.
I had the great pleasure to see Jason Benetti deliver a keynote address at the 51st annual SABR conference last summer in Chicago. I just had to share an excerpt with you from his speech, which tells you everything you need to know about this amazing man:
“As we watch baseball, we have a choice. We can use it to figure out stats, research, knowledge, to figure out what makes players incapable of something. … But the numbers, at their very best, bring out the beauty of each individual player and what makes them unique and what makes them better than expected. And this really is what my whole life has been founded on. If you discount me on the whole because of the first thing you think about me, you’re missing something. … You’re missing the human evolution that can become such a human, joyful, developmentally enlivening experience. … And that makes us all closer together. In this world, that is the best thing we can do with our time: to figure out what makes us all closer together.”
When he references "the first thing you think about me," he is openly referring to his cerebral palsey, which makes these remarks all the more powerful. Best wishes to him, and congratulations to the Tigers!
Another great article Joe. Baseball play by play announcers really do become the cool and favorite Uncle don't they. I also find it very cool we were both at that STRAUS game at Frontier Field in Rochester. If I'd known you were there I would have brought my many times read copy of "the MACHINE" for an inscription.
Beautiful piece, Joe, an example of why I follow and subscribe to your blog. So many of our current announcers are just homers, and that is why we mute the TV or turn off the radio. In Philadelphia, we are lucky. Scott Franzke is good on radio, and Tom McCarthy is a real professional. He is much better on radio (during the playoffs), when he can demonstrate his range of knowledge and skill at painting the word picture.
The White Sox make it hard to be a fan. Even before Reinsdorf, but especially lately.
I saw a stat recently that every team has clinched a playoff series (or one-game playoff) at their home ballpark at least once in the last 30 years.
Except for the White Sox, who haven't done so since the 1906 World Series.
That's hard to fathom. Sure, they won a World Series in the last 20 years, but there's a special joy in winning a playoff round at home. And no living White Sox fan has ever experienced that.
I forgot the old Detroit broadcasting team broke up over who got the "good chair" at White Sox park. Did the White Sox unintentionally seal their destiny by only having one good chair for visiting broadcasters? How many broadcast teams has Chicago's inept management broken up?
any chance the White Sox can lure Smoltz away from national broadcasts?
Ken Williams was unusually well-spoken. Some trades work out and some don't, but he seemed like he would be good to work for and would support and appreciate the broadcasters. Any connection between his exit and Benetti's?
There were rumors that the Tigers have targeted Joe Davis, since he's a Michigander who has, on the Dodgers and Fox, occasionally said, "Strike three called! Just stood there like the house by the side of the road, and watched it go by," which warms the cockles of all of us who adored Ernie Harwell. As a Dodger fan, I'm glad Davis isn't leaving.
And Davis's deal is reminiscent of Benetti's. When the Dodgers came calling as they wrestled with who might be The Successor, he said, he worked on things for Fox and didn't want to give that up. The Dodgers accommodated that, and continue to do so.
And this is where Vin was, again, a pioneer. In 1975, he began working part-time for CBS Sports, doing football after the baseball season and golf before it, with some other things in between (he may have wanted to forget "Challenge of the Sexes"). CBS wanted him full-time. The LA Times noted rumors.
The story is that Vin went to Peter O'Malley and said, I'm leaving to be full-time at CBS. O'Malley asked how many games he could do if he was full-time at CBS, and Vin figured he could make about 3/4 of the home games and most of the road telecasts--back then the Dodgers did 20 a year. Peter said, fine, we'll hire another announcer, and Ross Porter wound up being, more than Davis, the first "successor" to Vin, and really took a lot of hits at the time. In a way, Vin actually continued a tradition, because when he came to Brooklyn, Red Barber didn't make all of the road trips with the team.
So, the White Sox didn't want Jason Benetti to BE Jason Benetti. More's the pity.
“It’s like losing a friend” hits it dead center. Nationals fan here and there’s nothing quite like listening to your local guy (Charlie Slowes for us) call the games. It’s (almost oddly) comforting to hear that familiar voice walk you through the games while you drive, rake leaves, work on stuff in the garage, watch your kids play rec league or whatever. Sorry for the Sox fans.
I have heard Jason’s work on college football and like him a lot, but the best part is he is saying positive things about the people now in charge in Detroit. I know being more forward thinking than the ChiSox is a low bar to get over but it gives me some hope for the Tigers.