ESPN MLB Insider Pedro Gomez has been one of baseball’s most respected and versatile journalists.
Since he joined ESPN in 2003, Gomez has developed a top-notch and varied MLB on ESPN resume. He’s done everything from covering the “Barry Bonds beat” for ESPN in the mid-2000s to becoming a fixture on Wednesday Night Baseball sidelines.
Tonight, Gomez will check off another box on the “to-do” list. Gomez will serve as a play-by-play commentator for the first time in his ESPN career. He will work with analyst Mark Mulder to call the Arizona Diamondbacks-San Diego Padres contest in a full national telecast (10 p.m. ET, ESPN). (Fans can join the conversation by using hashtag #ARIvsSD).
Front Row caught up with Gomez to discuss his pitch to ESPN producers and how he is preparing for his big debut.
How did this play-by-play plan come about?
I’ve been asking for an opportunity to do a game, most likely the Hispanic Heritage [Month] game we do in mid- to late-September. Wednesday’s opportunity became available because [ESPN MLB commentator] Jon Sciambi wasn’t able to do this game. I basically asked if I could be a candidate and Phil Orlins [ESPN senior coordinating producer] said they were leaning toward me, and then I got the go-ahead.
When was the last time you provided play-by-play for a game (before ESPN)?
It’s been a long time, since back in junior college. Since I became a regular sideline reporter during our Wednesday Night Baseball games several years ago, I became more intrigued with the idea.
What has your preparation been like for the telecast?
I absolutely have the utmost respect for play-by-play. It is a very difficult job. I’ve been prepping at a higher rate than I would for sideline reporting because as a play-by-play commentator, you’re so involved with the entire broadcast, not just from time to time. I’m not going to lie and say I’m not nervous. Of course I’m nervous, but I’d say it’s in a good way. I’m definitely a talker and the biggest advice I’ve received from people like Sciambi and [ESPN MLB commentator] Dave O’Brien is to let the broadcast breathe a bit and that silence is OK. That might be my biggest challenge.
Do you have any favorite play-by-play commentators who you’d like to emulate?
[I] lived in the Bay Area and covered the Oakland Athletics. The legendary Bill King was my favorite play-by-play broadcaster. Bill was on radio, but no one was more descriptive and painted a better picture than Bill. I’m a fan of the broadcasts that talk baseball and stories, rather than just drone on about numbers. I have always believed that people are interested in people. I’ll be working with Mark Mulder and have known Mark for years. We have a great rapport and I hope that will come across. I hope people watching will think of themselves sitting at a table with us and we’re just talking ball.