Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Report: Baseball Voices On The Quest To Set A Home Run Record

Aaron Judge

Michael Kay readily acknowledges it: He is nervous about calling Aaron Judge’s historic home runs, if and whenever they come, according to Richard Deitsch, writing for the Athletic. Kay has been the television voice of the Yankees since 2002 — and called the team on radio for 10 years before that — but this feels different for him, and he’s trying to process the reasons for it.

“I’m honestly more anxious about this than other calls, and I’m not quite sure why,” Kay said. “I’ve had the privilege of other big calls having done the Yanks for 31 years, but there is something about the historical significance of this that has ramped up the butterflies. As for pressure, yes, you feel it. With the increased presence of social media, you have an entire planet of media critics, and it just seems people would pounce if there is a misstep, but it is what it is and you deal with it.”

Brian Anderson says he has thought about calling a potential record home run by Judge but only in passing. Anderson is the television voice of the Brewers but also works nationally for TBS. He will call Tuesday’s game in Toronto between the Yankees and Blue Jays for Turner as Judge stands one homer shy of the American League record of 61 set by Roger Maris in 1961.

Roger Maris
“I’ve thought more about the potential to call historic moments in multiple sports in back-to-back seasons,” Anderson said. “I called Stephen Curry’s record-setting 3-pointer last December in New York and now (maybe) Judge’s AL/Yankees record home run. I’ve also thought a lot about the Yankees announcers and how incredible this moment will be for them. They live it every day. It is their moment. It would be an honor for me and TBS to call and cover it, but I’m very happy we are not exclusive for this game Tuesday like we were for Curry’s record-setting moment at Madison Square Garden. It really bothers me when the TV voices of these teams are sidelined for milestones like this. I’ve been on the other side. It hurts a little.”

Dan Shulman has thought about calling a historic home run for Judge, but he’s in a very different situation as the television voice of the Blue Jays for Canada-based Sportsnet (Shulman also calls college basketball for ESPN and baseball for ESPN Radio).

“For Michael (Kay), 99 point something percent of his viewers will be Yankee fans,” Shulman said. “For Brian, I would imagine most of them will be Yankee fans. For us, obviously, the vast majority will be Blue Jays fans. But I have thought about it. Whether he finishes at 60, 61, 62 or 63, he’s had an unbelievable year, a once-a-decade or once-a-generation kind of season.”

The only players with more home runs in a single season than Maris’ 61 are Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who all were central figures in baseball’s steroid scandal.

“Nobody’s ever done it in the American League, and the guys who have hit more than that have all done it under dubious circumstances, in my opinion,” Shulman said. “I think a lot of people will look at this as the single-season home run champion if he gets that far. So it’ll be more than my typical visit or home run call, but I doubt I’ll be where Michael Kay is on his. Let’s put it that way.”

Ben Wagner is the radio voice of the Blue Jays. He got to call Miguel Cabrera’s 500th home run in August 2021 at Rogers Centre and is excited about the prospect of potentially getting a Judge moment.

“As a fan of the game, this has been an incredible milestone to track, and over the last few days, (to) sit think this might happen while they’re in town,” Wagner said. “One of the unique perks of this job is you get lucky enough to be linked to history.”

Even in these cynical times, there is a romance about home run records. You saw that with the national coverage last week with No. 700 for Albert Pujols, and you have it seen with it Judge’s pursuit of Maris, including live look-ins for his at-bats from ESPN and MLB Network.

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