MLB Network held a conference call this afternoon with Bob Costas and Jim Kaat, who along with Harold Reynolds will call the opening game at the new Yankee Stadium for MLB Network on Thursday, April 16 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Thursday's game at Yankee Stadium will mark the debut for both men in the MLB Network broadcast booth. Costas last appeared in a baseball broadcast booth at the old Yankee Stadium for NBC on October 17, 2000, where the Yankees closed out the ALCS with a win in Game Six over the Seattle Mariners. Kaat's broadcasting career stretches over 20 years and includes national baseball work with CBS, ABC and TBS as well as 14 years with the Yankees on the YES Network as well as WPIX and MSG Network. Thursday's game, between the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians at 1:00 p.m. ET, will be blacked out in both clubs' home territory. MLB Network President and CEO Tony Petitti joined Costas and Kaat on the call.
Highlights of the call are below.
On broadcasting the first game at new Yankee Stadium:
"I wanted to make sure Jim Kaat was a part of the group because he pitched in the true original Yankee Stadium. His career began in 1959 so he pitched against Ted Williams, he faced Mickey Mantle at the old Yankee Stadium, and while the broadcast won't be exclusively about new stadium, old stadium, it certainly has to be part of it. I thought that Jim's perspective would be important and as Tony said, Harold has been such a prominent part of the network that it is appropriate that he be involved on this first broadcast. So I think it's going to be a combination of introducing people outside of New York to the new Yankee Stadium, but also talk about the Yankees prospects and the Indians prospects for the season ahead and the pitching pairing that the rotations hold is CC Sabathia against Cliff Lee so you can't ask for much more than that. So as long as the weather holds up, I think were in good shape."
"I'd just like to say that I'm grateful to Tony for giving me the opportunity to get back into the broadcast booth on the MLB Network. When I visited with Tony some time ago in January, he speculated about putting Bob and I together, and it's particularly thrilling because I know what a baseball fan Bob is. And it's also an added thrill to be a part of the on-field pre game ceremonies as well, which the Yankees were gracious enough to invite me to be a part of. It's going to be an exciting day and I'm looking forward to it."
"We've been really looking forward to this game in particular. The opportunity to do the first game from Yankee Stadium, to put out the team we've assembled together, with Bob, and Jim and Harold Reynolds. Bob's first appearance back, to have Jim back out doing games is great, obviously to pair them with Harold, who has been a big part of the network since it launched on January 1, we think it's a great way to showcase what were doing here. I'm looking forward to it and it's just another first for us here in our first few months."
On returning to the broadcast booth:
"We did a game a week ago Saturday at Citi Field, the Mets and the Red Sox. We did six innings of the game as a rehearsal game and I would imagine there's some aspect of it that's like riding a bike and there's a little bit of rust to knock off, but I don't anticipate any major problems. Is it possible that by the third or fourth game I'll be in a slightly better rhythm than the first game? Yeah I guess that's possible. We'll see."
"None whatsoever [worry], particularly when the partner is Bob. Harold and I talked a lot of baseball in the past, he's always been very complimentary to me and has asked me questions about announcing, of course knowing Bob's history, if it were a totally new partner, that I have never worked with before or didn't know, there could be some apprehension but I have none whatsoever about this."
On the passing of Harry Kalas:
"He was more than just admired for his craft, he was a beloved institution in Philadelphia. I think this is generally true, in an era where players, even great players, come and go the real fixture in baseball is often the local radio voice. That's the person that links generations to each other that people can say they grew up listening to. Richie Ashburn passed away not too long ago, and now Harry Kalas and you'd have to be, and I'm not saying I would understand this fully but I understand the idea of it from St. Louis or the voices I grew up listening to in New York, people in Philadelphia feel a personal sense of loss right now. This is a voice that took them from childhood into adulthood through passages in their life, things change a lot, but you continue to follow your club, the personnel of the club, turns over from generation to generation, Harry Kalas is always calling the game, so this is a civic loss when someone like that passes away.
"Obviously Harry was a great announcer, he's even in the Hall of Fame because of that, but you couldn't convince someone from Philadelphia that there was anyone better to call a game than Harry Kalas. You couldn't convince someone in St. Louis that there was anyone better to call a game than Jack Buck or before that, Harry Caray, and that's the way it should be. If you live in Cincinnati, than Marty Brennaman is what baseball sounds like to you. And Ernie Harwell is what it sounded like in Detroit. That's part of the beauty of baseball broadcasting."
"We all liked to imitate Harry when I was with the Phillies and say "Michael Jack Schmidt" and you said the timber in his voice, but it was more than that. Harry was a good friend. There were 16 of us that usually gathered in the winter time and played golf for four days down in Florida and Harry regaled us with his "Hail to the Redskins" time after time. So beyond just the broadcaster with the booming voice, it was a privilege to know him as a friend. Of course I knew he was not in good health having seen him a few weeks ago, obviously saddened by the news but not surprised."