After five seasons as the Detroit Tigers’ television broadcast play-by-play announcer, news broke this week that Matt Shepard would not be returning to the Bally broadcast booth for the 2024 season.
While the news of Shepard’s departure does not appear tied to any kind of workplace strife, it may also not come as a surprise to Tigers’ fans familiar with the broadcast. The Tigers’ television broadcast team has frequently ranked dead last in popularity polls, coming in 30th this year in Awful Announcing’s roundup.
Shepard was never going to have an easy time, coming in on the heels of the beloved and long-running duo of Rod Allen and Mario Impemba. Bally, and Fox Sports before it, tried their best to recreate the magic of Allen and Impemba, testing a wide variety of former Tigers’ players in the booth, but nothing ever quite captured the attention of viewers in the same way.
Shepard released a statement via Twitter on Wednesday thanking the fans and the franchise for their support.
I want to thank so many of you for such warm thoughts and heartfelt wishes. The support has been humbling. The last 5 seasons of calling tigers baseball has been an incredible privilege & It’s been my honor to be invited into your homes. Anxious for the next chapter. Go Tigers!— Matt Shepard (@ShepMatt) October 4, 2023
And with regards to the remaining team, it seems that Shepard is the only change so far. Tony Paul confirms that the desk crew and color commentary players we have been familiar with in recent years are expected to return.
The #Tigers main TV analysts — Kirk Gibson, Craig Monroe, Dan Petry — are expected to remain for 2024. Workloads might shift a bit, but all are likely back.— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) October 3, 2023
As of right now, there are no hints as to who will replace Shepard in the broadcast booth. Popularity would suggest that moving Dan Dickerson from radio to TV would be their smartest move, but radio fans would surely cry foul.
This does seem to symbolically end a chapter in Tigers’ history, marking a new era, and a new direction. And as for Shepard’s future, with his history in broadcast and previous work with the Lions and Pistons, he’s sure to find a new home soon.