The Detroit Tigers need new television announcers. We’ve known this ever since Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported that longtime announcers Rod Allen and Mario Impemba would not return to Fox Sports Detroit broadcasts in 2019.
Normally, we would wait a little while before trying to find successors for Allen and Impemba. Fox Sports Detroit has not yet officially announced that the two will not be back next season, and it’s very hard to speculate on which announcers would be available.
That this is one of the more controversial suggestions on our list speaks to how beloved Dickerson is among Tigers fans. Many people, myself included, would love to see Dickerson move over to TV full-time. He more than capably filled in there at times in 2018, is already very familiar with the current team and organization, and pairs well with Kirk Gibson (who I assume will stick around in some capacity). Other fans want Dan to stay on the radio, both because of his rapport with current analyst Jim Price, as well as his wonderful ability to describe the action while mixing in key stats and keeping Price in check.
Frankly, there’s no wrong answer here, so long as Dickerson remains in Detroit. Whether he announces to a radio or TV audience — or perhaps both? — should not matter too much to Tigers fans. He is one of the very best in the business, and he’s ours.
If I were a betting man, my money on the next Tigers play-by-play broadcaster would be on Shepard. He filled in after Mario and Rod were suspended in September, serving as the team’s primary play-by-play man for most games down the stretch. He isn’t the most exciting choice, but is already on the Fox Sports Detroit payroll and has a natural rapport with Kirk Gibson. His biggest issue might be availability. Shepard is a jack of all trades, both for Fox Sports Detroit and elsewhere. He is the lead play-by-play announcer for Eastern Michigan football, and has appeared on Pistons and Red Wings broadcasts. The network may want someone with fewer scheduling conflicts as their new play-by-play man.
The Tigers have a couple of promising voices in their own minor league system as well. First up is Erie SeaWolves radio announcer Greg Gania, who was called up to replace Dan Dickerson on Tigers radio broadcasts when Dickerson made a couple of TV appearances over the final month of the season. Odds are Gania would slot into the same role in 2019, serving as Dickerson’s replacement if the network decided to bring the longtime radio play-by-play man over to TV full-time.
The other minor league announcer on our list is Dan Hasty, and the Tigers have had their eye on him as well. He did some radio work with Jim Price in spring training earlier this year, and has quickly become one of the most beloved announcers in the Tigers system both thanks to his on-air presence and willingness to engage with fans on Twitter. Hasty is a Central Michigan graduate, and also spent time at 97.1 The Ticket before getting his current full-time gig with the Single-A West Michigan Whitecaps.
Now that we’ve exhausted the in-house options, it’s only natural to start looking at those with Michigan ties. First up is Joe Block, a Michigan State graduate who is the current radio and TV play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Block grew up in Roseville, Michigan, so one assumes he would be somewhat interested in the job. However, as the Detroit News’ Tony Paul pointed out on Twitter, Block’s wife is from the Pittsburgh area, and it could be tough to uproot a young family.
As for his fit? Pittsburgh’s broadcast team didn’t rate well on Awful Announcing’s local MLB announcer rankings, but I’ve enjoyed Block as a broadcaster, both with the Pirates and when he was splitting duties with Bob Uecker in Milwaukee.
Davis is the current play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but has also spent some time on national broadcasts (including this year’s NLDS on Fox Sports 1). He hails from Potterville, Michigan, and both he and his wife have ties to Michigan. That said, Davis was Sportsnet LA’s pick to take over for legendary broadcaster Vin Scully, and is in prime position to handle any national broadcast duties they throw his way. He’s not going anywhere.
If I could hand-pick any play-by-play announcer to slide into the Fox Sports Detroit booth next season, it would be Orsillo. The 49-year-old served as the lead voice of the Boston Red Sox for 15 years, and along with analyst Jerry Remy, formed one of the most beloved broadcast tandems in baseball. Their on-air antics frequently went viral, but did not distract from the fact that Orsillo is one of the most respected voices in the game due to his professional approach and smooth delivery.
But really, this is just an excuse for me to post the pizza video.
This is another swing for the fences. Anderson has been the Milwaukee Brewers’ play-by-play announcer since 2007, but you have also seen him on national broadcasts for TBS since 2008. He was the play-by-play man for this year’s Red Sox-Yankees ALDS series, and has also done work for the network during the NCAA basketball tournament.
Kirk Gibson and Jack Morris
This is kind of a default answer, since Gibson will likely be back in 2019. His health is unfortunately an ever-present question, but he should still appear on the majority of broadcasts next season. Jack Morris will probably be around too, though we didn’t hear as much from him in 2018.
Tigers fans are certainly familiar with Petry’s work on the field, as the 59-year-old enjoyed a successful 11-year career with the Tigers from 1979 to 1991. He was an All-Star in 1985, and finished fifth in the AL Cy Young vote in 1984. He has appeared on Tigers radio broadcasts from time to time, including when he filled in for Jim Price in 2012 when Price was having health problems. With Gibson already in the fold, Petry could be a nice change of pace on TV broadcasts on a part-time basis.
Well, for one, he really wants the job.
We don’t know much about Dirks’ chops as a broadcaster, but he was a delight when he appeared on our podcast earlier this year, and would bring a fresh perspective (and a lot of enthusiasm!) to the role.
This could be a controversial pick given Hunter’s outspoken fews on a few hot topics, but Hunter quietly spent time in the Minnesota Twins’ broadcast booth last season. He could either move to Detroit full-time or split duties between the two clubs, as Jack Morris has done at times over the past few years.
We will almost certainly see C-Mo on a few broadcasts next season, but the split between him and any other analysts in the fold remains to be seen. Monroe has been a steady presence in the Fox Sports Detroit studio over the past few years, and brings plenty of enthusiasm to the table. I don’t know how he would do on a full-length broadcast on a consistent basis, but he has inched his way towards that role, spending time as the team’s “sideline” reporter in the Comerica Park camera well in 2018.
Since we’re throwing out former Tigers players left and right, let’s add The Mayor to the mix. Casey has served as a studio analyst for MLB Network over the past few years, and was famously one of the most well-liked people in the major leagues during his playing career. While his time in Detroit was brief, he endeared himself to Tigers fans with an excellent performance (one of the few, unfortunately) during the 2006 World Series. Asking him to give up a studio job for the daily grind of a local broadcast would be tough, though.