Fox Sports Detroit announcers Rod Allen and Mario Impemba will not return to Detroit Tigers broadcasts in 2019, according to a report from Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. Allen and Impemba were suspended by the network for the remainder of the 2018 season after an incident between the two at the ballpark on September 4.
The decision is unsurprising given the immediate fallout of their altercation, but it brings an end to one of the longest running broadcast tandems in baseball. Impemba has been the Tigers’ primary play-by-play announcer since 2002, and Allen came onto the scene in 2003. Like George Kell and Al Kaline before them, Mario and Rod served as the voice of the Tigers for a generation of fans, especially as TV broadcasts expanded to cover more of a team’s 162-game schedule.
Lynn Henning of the Detroit News provided more details of the incident (as well as the terms of the announcers’ respective dismissals) on Tuesday evening.
The confrontation in a split-second turned physical, according to sources. Impemba’s side alleges, and Allen’s refutes vigorously, that Allen placed his hands on the sides of Impemba’s neck. The fight is understood to have been brief with no punches thrown. It was broken up quickly, according to both sides, by a series of three NBC Sports Chicago freelancers who were working on that night’s broadcast.
The network has not yet officially announced the move, and no replacements have been hinted at (or officially hired, obviously). Matt Shepherd and Kirk Gibson served as the primary TV announcers for the remainder of the 2018 season after Allen and Impemba were suspended.
We will update this story if more information becomes available.