Behind The ScenesMLB

ESPN’s major-league mimic Boone mirrors Pete Rose in next “Boone-Doggle”

Sunday Night Baseball voice
Dan Shulman on The Boone-Doggle:

“I love all of them, but two of my favorite impersonations are ones he hasn’t done on the show this year. He does a perfect impersonation of umpire Dale Scott calling a strike. And his impersonation of Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield giving signs is as good as it gets. I’m guessing Aaron spends a lot of time in front of the mirror at home!”

ESPN continues to reinvent the way Major League Baseball is covered, regularly utilizing a combination of technology, personality, social media-savvy, creativity, and at times, humor.

Enter: the “Boone-Doggle.” A weekly Sunday Night Baseball segment featuring analyst Aaron Boone and his staggeringly spot-on impersonations of big league players, managers and umpires. For this weekend’s ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast – Washington Nationals at New York Mets at 8 p.m. ET – Boone will impersonate baseball hit king Pete Rose.

The producer behind the segment is Sunday Night Baseball producer Andy Reichwald, who chatted with Front Row about the Boone-Doggle concept, execution, and social media engagement.

How was the Boone-Doggle segment created?
Boonie has been doing impersonations like this since he was a kid. We’ve done it a bit on Monday Night Baseball and Baseball Tonight in the past, and we decided to give him the forum to do this weekly on Sunday Night Baseball.

I came up with the “Boone-Doggle” moniker and we had our artist Kevin Roché, who does the Sunday Night Baseball cartoon drawings, sketch an image to use as a front end.

How are the players chosen for Boone to impersonate?
He can’t do just anyone, he has to “feel it.” Boonie has been a great sport doing this each week. He really puts himself out there. There are not a lot of commentators who would do this each week. It speaks to Boonie’s fun-loving personality and his willingness to do things for the betterment of the show.

Aside from the entertainment value, what are your objectives for this segment?
At the end of the day it is a 20-second element that serves a few purposes: First, it is meant to fun. Second, it serves as a vehicle for us to engage with our viewers on social media by having them go to @BBTN on Twitter and vote for the next impersonation. We receive about 5,000 votes each week when we post the two contestants as options for the upcoming games. Third, it serves as promotion for the next Sunday Night Baseball telecast.

What have been your favorite Boone-Doggles so far this season?
Some of my favorites this year have been when he impersonated Evan Gattis with Gattis there to help show him how it was done. Also his impersonation of Bruce Bochy walking to the mound for a pitching change. He does Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds really well, too.

Illustration by Kev Roché for ESPN
Illustration by Kevin Roché for ESPN
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