Front Row continues its MLB on ESPN Spotlight series this week with a behind-the-scenes look at Tim Kurkjian, ESPN MLB reporter and Baseball Tonight host/analyst.
The 111th World Series begins tonight at Kauffman Stadium featuring the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals. Kurkjian and the Baseball Tonight team will be onsite for pre-game shows and post-game coverage for each World Series contest.
Just beneath this Kurkjian interview, some ESPN MLB experts offer predictions for the Series.
How would you describe your average day?
They are all different which keeps things interesting, but every day starts the same way. I get up really early and devour the box scores on ESPN.com. Then I do my day-by-day book. By hand, I write in each team’s daily log – date, score, winning pitcher, place in standings, etc… I have completed this exercise every day for 25 years. It takes me roughly 30 minutes a day. It is truly pathetic what I do, but it works for me.
I used to accompany my day-by-day book with my box score book. For 20 years, I cut out every box score of every game and taped them in a binder. I stopped five years ago because my daily newspaper wasn’t delivering enough box scores in the morning.
After reading the must-see “Notes, Stats and Trends” and the “Stats and Information Group MLB Nightly Notes” from ESPN’s research department, I feel somewhat prepared for the day. From there every day is different. It is common that I will do SportsCenter in the morning, write, do radio, SportsCenter again and end with Baseball Tonight. All the while calling people in the game to make sure I am current with the news of the day.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The best part about my job is the interaction with my teammates. There is nothing better than working a game with colleagues, writing about it, filing reports, doing live shots, etc. . . then leaving the park late at night feeling that we covered it properly.
The next best thing is watching a dozen games at once while preparing for a Baseball Tonight show. It is invaluable to watch games with any of our former players. I trust what I see when I watch a game, but if I am confused by a play or situation it’s comforting that I can turn to a guy that played the game on the highest level – be it Aaron Boone, Curt Schilling, John Kruk, Eddie Perez, Eric Wedge, Dallas Braden, Mark Mulder, Alex Cora, Rick Sutcliffe – for clarification. That is teamwork at its very best.
What’s your best moment/memory at work?
There are so many great moments and memories from my 18 years at ESPN, but covering Game 6 of the 2011 World Series is at the top of the list. That’s why I do what I do, to be in the ballpark for games such as that.
On a different level, I will never forget one night in my first year doing Baseball Tonight in 1998. Some show or game was suddenly cancelled and we were told that in 15 minutes we were doing an unscheduled, one-hour Baseball Tonight. We had no rundown, no shot sheets, no content prepared. We went out and did a great hour of TV because Karl Ravech, our fearless host, never panicked. That’s when I learned the value of staying calm in the face of adversity and change. Ravy [Ravech] and our producer piloted that show from start to finish. And it was one of our best.
What is your favorite MLB ballpark?
I have covered a game in 56 different major league ballparks. I am 58 years old, a traditionalist and love the history of the game. Fenway Park remains my favorite in which to cover a game. I know it’s old and cranky, but every time I go there – and I have been there hundreds of times – I point and think Ted Williams played left field right there and Babe Ruth pitched right there. That means a lot to me and it gets me every time.