In the last post-game wrap of the season (on KNBR), San Francisco Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper told Jon Miller, Mike Krukow, and Dave Flemming that he loved them, and they were all clearly touched by his words. He wasn’t talking to us, of course, but I think it’s safe to say that most of us here love him.
It’s weeks-old news now, but he is a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award. Duane Kuiper is absolutely, without a doubt, a Hall of Fame baseball announcer, and when you read the intention of the award, his qualifications should win over any skeptics:
To be considered, a candidate must have shown a “commitment to excellence, quality of broadcasting abilities, reverence within the game, popularity with fans, and recognition by peers.”
The award site’s writeup for him gives people unfamiliar with him a very vague sense of why he’s a finalist, though:
Duane Kuiper has called games for 37 seasons, including 36 with the Giants on both radio and TV following 12 seasons with Cleveland and San Francisco as a second baseman. As a broadcaster, Kuiper has won 10 Emmy Awards.
This year’s postseason has given us exposure to the likes of Bob Costas, Joe Davis, Brian Anderson, Karl Ravech (!), and our own Dave Flemming, all of them competent to great broadcasters with their own styles and voices. None of them — no other broadcaster in baseball — can do what Duane Kuiper can: just be a guy calling the game.
It helps that he has a distinct, powerful voice. It’s not one that’s going to transport you anywhere or paint you a picture, but it sounds like an authority sitting next to you, present in the same moment as you, and reacting just as you would. That he’s a former player able to easily lend direct insight into what’s going on and what the players in the field and in the batter’s box might actually be thinking is something more than a bonus and just slightly less than a miracle. And it’s all so smooth.
Kuiper and Krukow had signed extensions near the end of my previous stint here, and at the time I wrote:
Krukow, 67, and Kuiper, 69, are the soundtrack of Giants Baseball. I can’t imagine anyone else on a telecast, and I really don’t want to.
Earlier this year on the McCovey Chroncast, we talked about what happens after Kuiper & co. step away from games even more frequently than they do now or else entirely, and it was a hard conversation, because it’s not one any of us want to have. The players have changed, the processes and outcomes have changed and remain in a state of flux, but the sound of every Giants game has remained largely the same. That has been a gift through all the phases of the team’s competitiveness. Thankfully, in Kuiper’s interview with Alex Pavlovic following the nomination, he said, “We’ve had a good run and we don’t want it to end anytime soon.”
That’s good news for me, because I don’t want the Giants to sound different anytime soon.