There had been precious little to report in terms of Bally Sports or the Detroit Tigers search for their next play-by-play announcer in the wake of Matt Shepard’s departure until today. And this is really good news. Ilitch Companies announced on Thursday morning that they’ve hired Jason Benetti as the new Tigers play-by-play announcer.
The 40-year-old Benetti started with the White Sox as a backup announcer in 2016, and has been an alternate for Chicago Bulls broadcasts and many other sporting events in that time span as well, working for both NBC and ESPN. A Chicago native, Benetti is widely regarded as one of the best in the business, so this is a pretty excellent, and surprising bit of news.
Benetti has a good voice, but it’s his knowledge of the game, preparation, and ability to tell a story that have really made him stand out. The quality of the hire is reflected in the devastation wrought upon White Sox fans on social media this morning.
An interesting note about this hire is the fact that Benetti will work for the Detroit Tigers directly according to the Ilitch Companies press release. He’ll coordinate with Bally Sports production staff and the rest of their broadcast team, but will be paid by and report to, the Tigers rather than Bally Sports Detroit.
Benetti released a statement following the announcement.
“I’m incredibly proud to join this historic and ascending Tigers franchise,” said Benetti in a statement released by the Tigers. “From every single person I talked with throughout the interview process it was clear why so many respected professionals and creative people have joined the organization in the last several years. There’s something special about it, and I’m excited to bring that energy to Tigers fans around the globe. I’d also like to thank Chris Ilitch, Ryan Gustafson, Scott Harris, and everyone else I’ve met with in the last several weeks who have been so welcoming.
“Everyone I spent time with made it clear this was the right place for me. I was born and raised in the Midwest, and understand how important sports are, especially here in the Motor City.”
According to the press release, Benetti will call a minimum of 127 games each season, without affecting his national broadcast obligations. Dan Dickerson will move from radio to television when there is a conflict with Benetti’s schedule.
Benetti grew up in Homewood, Illinois just south of Chicago. He attended Syracuse University for his bachelor’s degrees before earning a Juris Doctor degree from Wake Forest University of Law, while broadcasting for both schools. He worked as an intern in Chicago sports radio before joining ESPN in 2011. Benetti took over for Ken “Hawk” Harrelson in 2019 after several years filling in for Harrelson occasionally.
Other baseball credits include announcing for MLB’s Statcast broadcasts, as well as calling KBO League games for ESPN in 2020. He’s widely regarded as one of the most versatile announcers in the game.
Benetti has cerebral palsy, and is an advocate for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation.
Here’s an interview Benetti did with NPR’s Scott Simon in 2019