Behind The Scenes

The man behind the MLB on ESPN cartoons

Make room for the return of “Sunday From The Seats”

ESPN’s “Sunday From The Seats” – a production initiative in which ESPN’s MLB teams call games from a unique location inside the ballpark – returns this weekend to Sunday Night Baseball at Busch Stadium when the San Francisco Giants face the St. Louis Cardinals on ESPN (8 p.m. ET). ESPN MLB play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman and analyst Aaron Boone will call the game from the centerfield stands. (Sunday Night Baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza will be on assignment at the Women’s College World Series on June 5).

ESPN’s MLB coverage this season has featured cartoons depicting ESPN MLB commentators, coaches and players. The images have been used leading into segments throughout the telecasts and for the commentator booth backdrops. Kev Roché – who also created the former SVP & Russillo illustrations – is the mind behind the creative designs. Roché incorporates individual’s personalities and production elements – including this weekend’s “Sunday From The Seats” (see sidebar)– to create the concepts for the illustrations.

Roché recently spoke with Front Row about the “Sunday From The Seats” illustrations as well as the overall process.

Describe the process that goes into each illustration.
Normally, I get an email sometime on Monday from associate producers Mitch Hummer or Kevin Kremer that outlines the two ideas for that Sunday’s game. I’ll send some extremely rough outlines back if need be, borderline left-handed, etch-a-sketch stuff – I’m a righty – and then they pretty much let me have fun with it. More defined sketch, then pencils and inks by hand, scan it into Photoshop and add the color. It takes a couple days for each pic. . .

The more out there the ideas, the better I think it works.

ESPN MLB senior coordinating producer Phil Orlins on Kev Roché’s illustrations:

“We are always looking for creative ways to differentiate our content. Kev’s cartoons provide a fun and thought-provoking element to our coverage.”

What are you doing differently this week to highlight “Sunday From The Seats”?
I had a good time creating the different segment opens for all the on air talent so it’s nice to be able to bring that to the lead-in of this weekend’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast with Aaron Boone and Dan Shulman. Calling games from the outfield seats is a cool change up, so I’m glad the cartoon announcers get the same experience.

Goatbusters sketch
Goatbusters sketch

Who is your favorite ESPN MLB commentator to illustrate and why?
There are a lot of good candidates here, no wrong answer. Rick Sutcliffe’s facial hair is majestic and powerful. I enjoyed trying to capture its rugged beauty. Jon Sciambi’s hair is indescribable and orange – that was a good time. I’ll probably say Tim Kurkjian though, for the simple fact that I went back and watched all the Scott Van Pelt and Kurkjian laugh clips and got to call it research.

How do individual’s personalities impact your illustrations creatively?
From body language and stances to facial expressions and temperament, all that stuff plays a factor. Clothing, too, the kind of suits they normally wear – a Dallas Braden vest, Karl Ravech with his sleeves rolled up. I don’t draw realism, so when you’re turning guys into cartoons you have to rely on everything about them to get the likeness down.

And if that doesn’t work, I make sure to draw the last name somewhere close by in really big letters. And all caps.

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