D-backs gig a dream come true for Berthiaume
PHOENIX – It is not a stretch to call Steve Berthiaume a baseball junkie. It is an addiction he suffers willingly.
Berthiaume, who signed a five-year contract to become the play-by-play TV voice of the Diamondbacks beginning in 2013, maintains a library of 75 or so vintage baseball games on his iTunes account. The collection stretches five decades and includes the Brooks Robinson-as-vacuum 1970 World Series between Cincinnati and Baltimore and the Chris Chambliss walkoff-home-run game against Kansas City in the 1976 ALCS.
“That’s what gets me through the winter,” Berthiaume said.
The rest of the year continues to belong to the real thing, in a different way, as former D-backs manager Bob Brenly will join Berthaiume as the analyst on the D-backs’ broadcasts on FOX Sports Arizona. Brenly is uniquely qualified, having won a World Series with the D-backs and an Emmy award while calling baseball at WGN and TBS.
As the anchor of ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” the last six years, Berthiaume watched all 30 major league teams on a nightly basis. It is just possible that he has watched more televised baseball since 2007 than anyone else on the planet, accompanied in the ESPN green room with analysts that included Buck Showalter, Mark Mulder and Curt Schilling.
“It was like going to baseball college. The best part of the job – we’d sit in a room and watch games, and then we’d go on the air and talk about what we saw,” he said.
The D-backs’ gig was a logical next step, a similar path to the one former ESPN SportsCenter anchor Charlie Steiner took in becoming the TV play-by-play man for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“As a baseball fan, I always thought I had a great job,” Berthaiume said. “I was knee-deep in baseball for eight months a year. The only way it would be better would to be a part of one team every day and follow the evolution of a season.
“The opportunity to be at the ballpark every day is a dream come true. I’m thrilled.”
Berthiaume emerged as a strong candidate to replace play-by-play voice Daron Sutton early in the search process. The D-backs announced that Sutton and analyst Mark Grace would not return the day after the regular season ended.
Berthiaume, who did a smattering of play-by-play at ESPN, believes his style will develop as he proceeds. He appears certain to draw on his iTunes collection, which features some of the greats such as baseball Hall of Fame broadcasters Curt Gowdy, Chuck Thompson and the legendary Keith Jackson.
He plans to bring a living-room atmosphere to the telecast.
“I want it to be a shared experience,” he said. “The fans and I are going to watch the game together. The game is the show. This is not the Bert show.”
Berthiaume, 47, will remain at ESPN through the World Series. He has spent 12 years there, the first six primarily as a SportsCenter anchor. His wife, Cindy Brunson, also works for ESPN, and she is expected to remain with the network through the calendar year. In addition to anchoring SportsCenter, Brunson has worked on women’s college basketball and WNBA studio shows.