ESPN Anchor Hopes to Knock It Out of the Park'Sunday Night Baseball' play-by-play man Dan Shulman rises to the challenge of replacing a legend 4/18/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
When news broke last November that ESPN was not
bringing back its ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ team of
Jon Miller and Joe Morgan—who had been doing the network’s signature broadcast since
1990—it sent shock waves throughout
the baseball community. For 21 years,
viewers around the country had grown
accustomed to hearing the relaxed
nature of Miller’s authoritative playby-
In December, the
that Dan Shulman
would get Miller’s
coveted seat, joined
by former pitcher
Orel Hershiser and
“I don’t know how
many shows there are in television history
where the same guys did it for 21
years,” Shulman says.
Describing it as a “huge opportunity,”
Shulman also understands that he can’t
focus too much on his predecessor. “I
think it’s just like an athlete. If you’re
filling in to replace somebody who is a
Hall of Famer, you’re not gonna make
it easier on yourself if you dwell on that
too much,” he says. Like any coach,
Shulman believes the key to success is
preparation and treating every game the
same, whether it’s a mid-August contest
between the Royals and the Indians or
Game 7 of the World Series.
If Shulman—who has been a sports
announcer since college—has any butterflies about being part of ESPN’s cornerstone
broadcast team, he isn’t showing
it, and neither are the analysts. “In
the booth with Dan and Orel, I feel so elevated
that it makes my job easy,” Valentine
says. Hershiser, who calls Shulman
“The Voice,” believes his partner will be
a Hall of Fame broadcaster when all is
said and done. “Whatever he does, he’s
absolutely amazing at,” Hershiser says.
As a kid, Shulman attended the first
game in Toronto Blue Jays history on
April 7, 1977, with his father (for the
record: a 9-5 victory over the Chicago
White Sox). Now that going to games is
his job, the hectic travel schedule doesn’t
allow him much time to do the same
with his kids. “When I’m not working,
I’m home,” he says. However, he gets to
coach his youngest son’s baseball team.
Shulman got his degree in actuarial
science from the University of Western
Ontario, and he also broadcast basketball
and football games for the Mustangs
on CHRW, the college radio station. “I
always kinda dreamed of play-by-play,
but how many play-by-play jobs are
there in Canada?” he says. Six months after graduating, he decided to go for it.
After spending 18 months at a local
station in Barrie, Ontario, he moved
to Toronto and took a job with CJCL,
which would later become The Fan
590. “I was really lucky, because they
were moving in the direction of allsports
and they needed people,” he says.
During his five-year tenure, the Toronto
sports scene was at a fever pitch.
The Blue Jays won consecutive world
championships in 1992 and 1993, and
the NHL’s Maple Leafs went to the Eastern
Conference Finals in 1993 and 1994.
Listenership was at an all-time high. In
1995, he moved to TSN—the “Canadian
ESPN”—and became the Blue Jays’ playby-
play man, a post he held until 2001.
He considers that job his big break.
Shulman had joined ESPN part-time
in 1995, filling in on college basketball
and baseball games, while calling Blue
Jays games for TSN. He went full-time
with ESPN in 2001, and can still be seen
on the sidelines calling some basketball.
That kind of split is comparatively easy;
in 1993, he began to do some ESPN Radio
work; and for a year and a half, he
had jobs in two different countries.
Although he grew up a Jays fan, Shulman
is nothing if not objective. “I was
not a homer, and if I had to say something
that wasn’t flattering, I would say
something that wasn’t flattering,” he says.
As the face of the new Sunday Night
Baseball team, Shulman understands his
role. “I consider myself the point guard,”
he says. “It’s my job to put everybody
else in a good position to succeed.”