Hockey broadcaster Doc Emrick to call some Pirates spring training games
February 19, 2016 12:00 AM
Pittsburgh Pirates Starling Marte reports early with pitchers and catchers today during morning workouts at Pirate City Bradenton Florida.
By Bill Brink / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
BRADENTON, Fla. — Doc Emrick has called exactly one baseball game in his broadcasting career. As a graduate student at Miami (Ohio), he filled in at the last minute for a game against Kent State.
Emrick, the national hockey play-by-play man for NBC who has spent more than 40 years calling hockey games, will get another chance at baseball this spring by calling some Pirates spring training games.
“I didn’t know anything,” said Emrick, who visited Pirate City Thursday, of that college baseball game in the 1960s. “All we had was a lineup, no media guide, nothing.”
Rick Sofield demonstrates bunting
Rick Sofield, Pirates third base coach, goes over the finer points of bunting with pitchers during spring training. Peter Diana/Post-Gazette
Emrick called the game with Stan Savran, at the time a senior at Miami and now a radio host in Pittsburgh. Future rookie of the year and MVP Thurman Munson played in the game, and Cy Young award winner Steve Stone was available to pitch but never did.
“I don’t remember who won,” Emrick said. “I do remember that you can only mention the flag blowing a certain way in center field so many times without driving people nuts, but there was a lot of time to fill between pitches. I was awful. Stan got through it OK.”
Emrick, who was honored with the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in 2008, began broadcasting hockey games in 1973. He spent 21 years calling New Jersey Devils games before working for NBC exclusively starting in 2011. He taught at Geneva College in Beaver Falls from 1969-71, and, during that time, covered the Penguins, on a volunteer basis, for the Beaver County Times. Over the years, he became a huge Pirates fan.
“I was raised on Bob Prince,” he said.
Emrick and Pirates play-by-play man Greg Brown have known each other for years, and Emrick will work with Brown in the booth.
“I thought, gee, if there was ever a case when I could be on with Brownie, that would be fun for me,” Emrick said. “I don’t know if it would be for the audience, but if it was a harmless spring training game, maybe people would be sympathetic, saying, that’s just Doc, let him go for a little bit.”
Emrick said the time between pitches would represent the biggest change from the nonstop, fast-paced sport he usually broadcasts. He wants to do a good job, he said, but not take himself too seriously.
Thursday, he met closer Mark Melancon, and got to bounce a question off Melancon that he ponders when he watches games.
“I asked him, ‘Is this a good job?’ ” Emrick said. “Because I sit there at home in the ninth inning and think, this is the last job I’d ever want to have. I did the same thing the first hockey game I went to when I saw the goaltender because then they weren’t wearing masks.
“But [Melancon] said, ‘Yeah, it is. I know that you sit at home and you might be nervous, but I’m not. This is what I like doing.’ ”
Emrick has had this thought before. While sitting in the office of clubhouse manager Scott Bonnett during a visit to PNC Park some years back, closer Matt Capps walked in.
“He said, ‘I know what you do, you’re a hockey guy,’ ” Emrick said. “I said, ‘Yeah. And I know what you do.’ He shook his head and said, ‘All I gotta do is get three outs. It’s the best job in baseball.’ ”
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BrinkPG.
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