Sunday, April 10, 2016

My pick for the next Vin Scully

Unfortunately for us Dodger fans the White Sox were the smart ones who snatched him up.   Congratulations, Chicago, you're in for a treat.   In an era where major league teams are hiring young generic announcers who all sound the same and are completely interchangeable, along comes a young talent who is special.  Jason Benetti.    He could well be the next Vin Scully. 

Great voice, calls a terrific game, blends well with his partner, and has an actual personality.   Imagine -- a baseball announcer who is entertaining, has a sense of humor, knows pop culture, appreciates the history of the game, and projects an enthusiasm and love for baseball that's genuine and infectious.    My only question is how did other teams let him get away?   That's like the old joke about the CBS sitcom MY SISTER SAM starring Pam Dawber.  The joke goes that the CBS executives watched an episode of MORK & MINDY and said, "Get us the girl!" 

Jason was hired by the White Sox to do the TV games that Hawk Harrelson will miss.  Harrelson will soon retire and Jason will be the man.   For years and years to come.   He's also a rising star at ESPN and can be seen and heard calling football and basketball nationally.

And there's more to the story.  He was born with Cerebral Palsy and suffered through a horrible childhood.  But as an adult it hasn't stopped him one bit and in a very real sense he's an inspiration to those having to overcome physical challenges.    Oh, and as if that wasn't enough, Jason also has a law degree.  He's 32.   Vin Scully never got a law degree. 

Jason is such a great story that NBC Nightly News did a feature on him just this week.  You can find it here.

I first discovered Jason five or six years ago.   He was calling games for the minor league Syracuse Chiefs.  I keep tabs on Chiefs' announcers since I was one myself many lifetimes ago.   In ten minutes it was clear this guy was a cut above.  We became friends and I've taken great delight following his career ever since.

Jason grew up in Chicago a White Sox fan and even wrote a paper in elementary school saying he wanted to be the White Sox announcer.   Talk about a dream come true.. for Jason and White Sox fans.   So congratulations to the Pale Hose.  However they finish this year they've already signed the Rookie-of-the-Year.  Pull up a chair -- you're going to like this guy.

27 comments:

MikeK.Pa. said...

Truly an inspirational story. I work with a woman who has CP and shared Jason's story with her. Kudos to the ChiSox for grabbing him. Let's hope his career runs at least half as long as Vin Scully's.

Thanks for coming to the Philly area for "A or B?" and special thanks to Carol and the Village Players of Hatboro for bringing it here, and staging it so well. For those within driving distance, I'd recommend catching it before it closes next weekend. It's an intimate setting to watch a play and you can't beat the ticket or concession prices. Did I mention parking's free?

In years past, Philadelphia - along with Boston and New Haven - was a destination for plays to try out before heading to New York. Maybe your play will have legs and eventually make to Broadway, or off-Broadway.

Hope you didn't overindulge on cheese steaks and soft pretzels while you were here. And DiNic's pulled pork sandwiches are worth the long wait in line at the Reading Terminal Market.

Iconoclast Jones said...

What are the odds that a kid who decides his life's dream is to be a radio announcer grows up into a man with a voice like that? What a nice story, Ken.

Iconoclast Jones said...

He might want to make a small number of ridiculous faux pas in the beginning to help east the transition from the Hawk.

japanjohnny said...

Great post. I really hope the White Sox fans appreciate this guy, Didn't realize you did a stint in Syracuse. I would be interested in hearing about your recollections of doing MILB. Perhaps a post about each of your postings. Fascinated on your feelings about salt potatoes, although you may have escaped Syracuse before they were in season.

blinky said...

NBC Nightly News link lost Levine, alliteration always awes, Benetti better be boffo!

CRL said...

The next Vin Scully.....

Hey, no pressure there, Ken......

Brenath said...

Wish the Dodgers had hired this guy and had a better tv announcing booth. Talk about a generic guy and two former players who only talk about themselves and their fantastic former lives. I listen to the radio broadcast instead.

Steven said...

Benetti really showcases his sense of humor in this article in which local Chicago broadcasters get some interesting questions lobbed their way.

http://www.redeyechicago.com/sports/redeye-chicago-sports-announcers-answer-five-questions-20160407-story.html

I especially like his line about wanting a microphone that transforms all incoming speech into Sorkin dialogue.

VP81955 said...

This native Syracusan merely hopes Ken learned to enjoy white hots during his days in the Salt City. Used to have them (for a dime -- it was 1970) at the basement snack bar in Sibley's.

Phillip B said...

Jason Benetti even survived being outed by his partner Steve Stone as someone who puts ketchup on his hot dogs. If you can bear that burden in Chicago, replacing Hawk Harrelson is going to be a smooth ride...

DrBOP said...

Ah, but how would he do with Uecker as a partner.......there's the REAL test! ;^)

And, here's a slightly disappointing update on how the Chiefs are doing :

http://m.mlb.com/cutfour/2016/04/09/171412104/these-minor-league-teams-played-a-game-with-zero-fans

YIKES!

emily said...

Nice piece on Jason:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpmhVQxPtwI

YEKIMI said...

Listened to the Indians game while they were playing the White Soxs and Tom Hamilton spent about 5 minutes or more absolutely raving on about this guy, how terrific he is and the Sox made an absolute fantastic choice in hiring him. Not very often you hear other announcers talking up a competitor; they're usually afraid that the guy is gunning for THEIR job.

Shea Griffin said...

I worked with him briefly at a freelance gig in Winston-Salem, North Carolina a few years ago. He is as nice a person as he is a talented broadcaster. Best of luck to him.

MariaS22 said...

Friday Question: What was your final verdict on "The People vs. OJ Simpson"? I remember you saying good things about the premiere and was wondering how you enjoyed the rest of the show. Would love to hear a writer's opinion on how they handled everything. Thank you, Maria

H Johnson said...

Thanks for the heads up on this guy Ken. After reading your post I cruised YouTube for all the stories done on him already. Wow, you may be right. While I worship the Vinster too much to make your call yet, I have to agree that what he does have in common already with Vin Scully is that listening to him is pleasant.

I'm with @Brenath in my disdain for the current TV announcers for the Blue. They ruin the game for me. When Dave Roberts pulled Stripling the other day the three of them repeated themselves so often during the next few innings that I made up a drinking game to take advantage of the number of times they said "The Right Decision" and "Tommy John Surgery". Complete boobs.

Good luck to Benneti. The White Socks fans are very lucky.

Aloha

Anonymous said...

Here in Chicago we actually are keeping the volume on the tv turned up during the broadcasts now as Harrleson has not been listenable for years. Stone and Jason work well together already and we've learned more about about baseball in a week than we have in years with Harrelson at the mic!

Michael said...

I look forward to hearing him--I haven't yet. I haven't heard Joe Davis, whom the Dodgers have brought in, since no one outside a house in La Mirada is able to watch Dodger telecasts. But I heard him on other sports and some clips of his baseball work and liked him, and LOVED when he was asked about his home run call and he replied that he didn't have one because not every home run is the same.

And there's only one Vin Scully, just as there's only one Jason Benetti. As Red Barber told "Young Scully," the one thing he brings into the booth that no one else can is himself.

benson said...

Trying to catch Jason's work this weekend capped off a week of frustrations. Grew up in Chicago a big White Sox fan, and was hoping to catch him weekend. But first, the weather sucked in the Midwest all weekend, with lots of postponements. Then the Extra Innings free preview seemed to not offer specific broadcasts I was looking for all week. Opening Day, I wanted to catch a little of Mr. Scully, they only offered the Padres feed. Saturday, they only had the Cleveland feed. But I lucked out and MLB TV did a live look-in and I finally heard his work. Too small a sample but seems good, and works well with Stone.

I guess on this thread I may be the only one who loves the way Hawk calls games. And, as Ken said, Hawk is certainly not generic. Mercy!

Jeff P said...

I totally agree....this guy, Jason, is REAL GOOD.....He's perfect with Steve Stone.
The new Dodgers guy isn't horrible....but I think the Dodgers should have kept it "in house" with Charley on the TV call when Vin isn't there.
No one puts you in the game more than the Mets' team with Ron Darling & Keith Hernandez...but the Giants' Kruk & Kuip are just as good.......
There are plenty of good broadcasters, but Mets and SF are pretty-much state-of-the-art.

Mike Barer said...

Well done, I'd never heard of him, but by the end of the post, I thought I knew him.

VP81955 said...

It became official today -- Elysian Park Avenue from Sunset Boulevard to the ballpark now is Vin Scully Avenue. Heard the ceremony on KLAC.

Frank Beans said...

Am I the only person who thought that Jason Benetti was actually John Oliver from the pic?

Milton the Momzer said...

Joe Angel was my favorite Marlins announcer. He did radio, Jay Randolph did TV. People would lower the TV volume and turn on a radio to hear Joe. The Marlins wised up and put him on TV, with partner Dave O'Brian. I understand they hated each other, but the calling of the games was great. This included the year Marlins beat Indians in World series

Anonymous said...

I like Jason Benetti so far -- and I've been a Sox fan since Bob Elson was plumping for Friendly Bob Adams and Household Finance.

And I'm also a big Hawk fan. I like a team announcer who roots unashamedly -- but honestly -- for his team. I loved Harry Caray before he went to that certain North Side bush league operation which shall remain nameless even if I am a big fan of their manager.

When my kids were growing up, Vin Scully was still doing national World Series broadcasts on the radio. I made sure they had the radios on at night; I told them they were listening to a national treasure then and I believe it even more now when I get the chance to hear him, now and then, on the MLB channel.

And it wasn't just because they listened to Mr. Scully, but all my boys are ardent baseball fans.

But here's the small world department: My youngest was a couple of years behind your young Mr. Davis in college; he ran into Davis periodically at the frat house on campus before Davis's national career took off. My son speaks glowingly of Davis.

I hope the Dodgers and the White Sox are both happy with their new announcers for many years.

Tom said...

I've heard Benetti do two Sox games now, and have seem him interviewed as well, and already he's in the top 5 announcers I have ever heard. As a Sox fan who can't figure out how Ken Harrelson STILL draws a paycheck, I cannot wait until Jason is doing every game for decades to come. (The fact that he is from the same suburb I live in, and my kids went to the same schools as he did -- 10 years later -- and we probably know a lot of the same people is of zero consequence, of course). This guy is brilliant.

Pete C said...

Great article! I've been lucky enough to have been a TV audio engineer and listened to multiple calls of Jason in both Chiefs games and on ESPN networks. Can't tell you how proud of his rise through the ranks I am!!! Obviously well deserved! Good luck Jason.