Harwell. Kaline. Kell. The Detroit Tigers have had some iconic broadcasters.
From Ernie Harwell and Al Kaline to Kirk Gibson and Rod Allen, the Detroit Tigers broadcasters have unforgettable voices and catch phrases. Listening to them is part of the experience of the game. So when changes occur, the experience of the game changes.
Today marked the first day of the big flip of 2016. This flip involves rotating Dan Dickerson and Mario Impemba. So, in today’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Dickerson shared the small screen with Kirk Gibson and Impemba shared the airwaves with Jim Price.
As a fan who grew up listening to Ernie Harwell on the radio and then Harwell with Dickerson, there is something truly comforting and old-fashioned (in a good way) about Dickerson’s voice on the radio, especially his exuberant home run calls. While Impemba occasionally pops up on local radio shows each week, he does not have the same quality as Dickerson has. I have to say I missed Dickerson as I listened to the last three innings of the game on my way home from work.
However, what I did appreciate on the radio was listening to Jim Price and Impemba talk about Price’s history as a player. Since Price has spent so much time with Dickerson, they know each other quite well. Price has shared most of his old baseball stories with his partner of 15 years. With the new broadcasting teammate, Price could share those stories anew and Impemba was obviously interested (and so was I).
On the flip side, Impemba does call a quality game. I was listening when John Mayberry, Jr. hit his seventh-inning home run. I truly missed Dickerson’s characteristically exuberant “GONE!”, but Impemba did show excitement. And of course, Price talked about Mayberry’s “buggy whip.” There was a different feeling to the radio show today.
When I got home, I watched the game on my DVR and I have to say that Dickerson delivered. His modulated, pleasant voice showed the flatness of Gibson especially in the moments before the pair moved to the booth. Dickerson shares so much information while calling the game; it is evident that he enjoys his job. As the game progressed, Gibson did add some emotion to his color commentary, simply to keep up with the positivity that exudes from Dickerson.
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The conversation between Gibby, Dickerson, and Brad Ausmus was an enjoyable part of the game. Ausmus shared that Gibby will be helping with base running during the regular season. Dickerson cleanly managed the conversation about players like Shane Greene and announcing the pitches. Dickerson seemed comfortable covering the variety during the game. It was interesting to hear Ausmus discuss the battle between Daniel Norris and Shane Greene, but then Kyle Roller hit a home run to break up the discussion, which forced the conversation to change.
One of my favorite Dickerson moments of the game was when he discussed Wynton Bernard‘s lessons from Torii Hunter during the second inning. It is obvious that Dickerson listens intently to the players so he can give those little nuggets with the fans who eat them up. His warmth as a play-by-play announcer and fan of the Tigers clearly adds to the game – he even warmed up Gibby – which is challenging to do.
Unfortunately, the only disappointing moment was when Mayberry hit his home run. Dickerson’s iconic “Gone” call had nowhere near the excitement that he shares with his radio audience.
I cannot wait to hear what happens when Dickerson gets to share the mic with Rod Allen. For a man who could make Gibson become some-what-pleasant to listen to, just imagine what he will do to the already-animated Allen.