In February, the San Diego Padres added Tony Gwynn Jr. to their broadcast team and brought back Bob Scanlan albeit in a reduced role as a sideline reporter. Gwynn will work 30 television and 30 radio broadcasts.
For some of those radio broadcasts, Gwynn has joined longtime voice of the Padres Ted Leitner, and has had a somewhat pacifying effect on the controversial announcer. Padres’ fans fall into two camps on Leitner, either loving or hating him with very little middle ground on the subject.
In his lengthy partnership with Jerry Coleman in the broadcast booth, Leitner arguably did his best work. The two had a genuine chemistry, and Coleman’s knowledge of the game provided real insights. Leitner teased him gently about his frequent “Colemanisms,” verbal bloopers, like “Sunday is Senior Citizens’ Day. And if you want to become a senior citizen, just call the Padre ticket office,” for which he became known.
When Scanlan worked with Leitner he too improved the quality of the broadcasts. As a former pitcher with several organizations, he brought knowledge of the game but also dared to reign in some of Uncle Teddy’s frequent rants as well as his verbal journeys back to his childhood team, the New York Yankees.
Gwynn Jr. also brings a former player’s knowledge as color analyst, but his understanding of the local team’s history goes much deeper thanks to growing up the son of the legendary Tony Gwynn. Tony Jr. also played outfield for two years with the Padres.
His local touch (to say nothing of his voice and infectious laugh so reminiscent of his father) cannot be provided by former CEO Mike Dee’s imports, Don Orsillo, formerly with the Boston Red Sox as play-by-play announcer, or Jesse Agler, who has a long history with the Miami Dolphins and other pro teams in Florida.
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Although both Orsillo and Agler are serviceable professionals, they have little understanding of the psyche of San Diego baseball fans who have suffered through far more losing than winning seasons and watched the team lurch from owner to owner and philosophy to philosophy, especially recently.
Gwynn does need further seasoning, as he’s very new to the radio game. His only previous experience came last year as part of the Dodger’s post-game shows. Tony Gwynn’s son talking Dodger baseball should never have happened. He belongs with the home team.
As that team moves forward to a promised brighter future, Tony Gwynn and Bob Scanlan should be given larger roles to add local flavor as well as knowledge of the game. Here’s a thought: either would be an improvement on the pre- and post-game shows over Rich Herrera, who currently plays those roles on FM 94.9.