Behind The Scenes

Baseball’s legends compelled analyst Rick Sutcliffe to take to the airwaves

Commentators (l to r) Aaron Boone, Sean McDonough and Rick Sutcliffe in the booth prior to ESPN's Monday Night Baseball telecast

Vin Scully. Jack Buck. Harry Caray. Jon Miller. What do these names all have in common?

Sutcliffe threw out the first pitch Opening Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

In addition to being legendary sports commentators, they were primary among the announcers who regularly called the games of ESPN MLB analyst Rick Sutcliffe.

From 1976-94, Sutcliffe — the Baseball Tonight and Monday Night Baseball analyst — pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals. He won an NL Cy Young award and a Rookie of the Year honor. He also had his games called by those legendary voices.

In 1999, Sutcliffe joined ESPN Radio as an analyst and moved over to TV in 2002.

Tonight, “Sut” will be in the booth with Aaron Boone and Sean McDonough to call a clash between the Cubs and Cardinals on Monday Night Baseball in a full national telecast.

After playing in front of all those aforementioned legends, it seems Sutcliffe was destined to be in the booth.

“[Former Dodgers pitching great and broadcast analyst] Don Drysdale was like a second father to me and he was the first one to tell me I’d be on TV,” said Sutcliffe. “I really thought I would retire and just play golf, hunt, fish and hang out. I thought he was crazy.”

Fortunately for Baseball Tonight fans, Sutcliffe was persuaded.

“I decided you really have to have some reason to get up every morning. I remember playing in Chicago and Harry Caray told me I would be a good commentator,” he said.

“I mean, Vin Scully, Harry Caray, Jon Miller and Jack Buck. I performed in front of all those guys. I tried to soak up as much knowledge from them as I could. I don’t know if anyone’s been able to play for the teams each of those guys called.”

Sutcliffe has taken all that knowledge and translated it to become a key player in ESPN’s MLB coverage.

“You know why I love Baseball Tonight? You sit in that room in front of 20 people, and they all love the game of baseball,” he said.

“When you have that kind of love and passion that goes into a show, it’s going to turn out great.”

Sutcliffe is now in his second season as a member of the Monday Night Baseball team. He says the trio has learned a lot from last season.

“With three men, I learned more than ever that you have to work as a team. In a two-man group, I felt like the play-by-play commentator explains what happened and then, as the analyst, I explained why it happened. Now working with Aaron — he sees things a lot differently than I do. I learn something every night from Sean and Aaron.

“If I can give the fans info or perspective they haven’t heard or seen before (that’s a good night),” he said. “When all three of us can do it, those are the best telecasts.”

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