Edson: Tigers Should Replace Gibson and Price as Announcers

 

At first, I thought it was just me.

I’d listen to Detroit Tigers games on radio while driving in northern Michigan. The play-by-play announcer, Dan Dickerson, is an absolute All-Star. He does a great service to the memory of the late Ernie Harwell.

Dickerson is informed and does his homework. He can make even the most one-sided game sound interesting. His descriptions are right on the mark.

But the sad truth is, he might as well be alone in the radio booth. Former Tigers backup catcher Jim Price brings little to the color commentary. He has about five stock things he says over and over again. He does very little research.

The same is true over on the TV side of the Tigers games. Mario Impemba isn’t flashy, but a solid play-by-play announcer. Former backup Tiger Rod Allen is the best of the TV booth. He does his homework – talking to players on both sides and giving us an insider’s view of the game. FOX Sports thinks a lot of Allen’s work, too. They feature him from time to time on the national network.

Then there is former Tigers great Kirk Gibson. He was an All-American football player at Michigan State. He hit two of the most famous home runs in World Series history. The one he hit in 1984 at old Tiger Stadium I was there to witness in the press box, having covered the Tigers for several years.

But Gibson’s monotone voice, his way of bullying Impemba on the telecasts from time to time and his lack of homework are glaring.

Then, one day a year ago I was sitting in a downtown Traverse City restaurant talking to friends and the topic of Kirk Gibson, the announcer, came up. We all quickly agreed he was the kind of player the Tigers needed right now. But he’s not the kind of announcer we need.

As soon as Gibson’s name came up as an announcer, I was shocked how many friends and bystanders at the restaurant chirped in.

Many of them said they listened to the start of the game on TV. If Rod Allen was the color man, they tended to keep the game on. If the man they call “Gibby” was the color man, they tended to lose focus and interest in the game on TV.

Make no mistake. This has nothing to do with Gibson being diagnosed with Parkinson’s 18 months ago. This has to do with the Kirk Gibson we have listened to for years.

He gets a free pass, apparently, because he was a star player for the Tigers.

But a lot of people are noticing how both Price and Gibson are starting to irk more and more listeners.

In a recent major league survey of radio and TV crews, the Tigers ranked in the bottom half of the list, No. 19. Dickerson and Allen were singled out for their outstanding work.

So it remains to be seen – and heard – what the Tigers will do.

Most teams stick with the status quo. And maybe the Tigers will, too.

But as long as the team is going to shake things up on the field during the month of July, maybe they’ll take a good long look at the broadcast booths in the off-season and make some much-needed changes.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.