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November 29, 2016

The Q&A ... with Phillies radio play-by-play man Scott Franzke

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111916.Phils.Franzke Phillies/for PhillyVoice

Phillies radio play-by-play broadcaster Scott Franzke

On Monday, the Phillies announced they had come to an agreement with radio play-by-play man Scott Franzke on a five-year contract extension.

Franzke and former Phillies reliever and current radio color commentator Larry Andersen form what’s arguably the best broadcast tandem in the city, regardless of sport. The adoration for Franzke from Phillies fans was apparent when news of his new contract circulated on social media.

Perhaps Top 10 (Carlos Ruiz, Shane Victorino, and Charlie Manuel are more universally popular among Phils fans), but the statement itself shows how revered Franzke is in Philadelphia.

But what exactly does a baseball radio broadcaster do in the winter? Would he ever consider moving from the radio booth to doing play-by-play on TV? And, as a Dallas native, how big of a Cowboys fan is Scott Franzke?

All of that and more in the latest version of The Q&A.

Congrats on the new contract, which was received well yesterday from Phillies fans. I guess you’re pretty pumped about all of that, right?

     Scott Franzke: I was very excited that we got it done. I love it here and didn’t want to go anywhere else. When they said they wanted to continue the relationship, I was all for it.

What’s your confidence level you’ll be able to call a meaningful last out before the end of 2021, that this team clinches something, whether it’s a World Series or a playoff berth?

     Whether it’s the ultimate, the last out, I think there’s a lot of luck involved there, too, so who knows. But, you know, I would think that they will get this thing turned around. There are obviously a lot of smart people making decisions. And they’ve gone in this new direction in the last year or so. I’m kind of excited to see the continuation of that. As broadcasters we’re certainly at the mercy of the team we cover in a lot of respects. There’s not a lot we can do about it.

I can relate, I have to write about the team no matter what they’re doing (winning or losing) ...

     You know you try to make the best of it, whether it’s the World Series or something short of that. I think they’re very committed and that’s one thing that fans can rest assured of that the organization is committed to winning. It’s not a situation where they just want to be quote-unquote competitive. They want to win. And they want to win it all. There is obviously some luck involved with that happening, but they do want it.

When was the last time you called something other than baseball?

     (Laughs) About a year ago actually I did one basketball game. I filled in on a Penn game and that was the first time in 16 years I think that I had done a basketball game.

Oh, my God ...


How did it go?

     It was way too fast. [Laughs]. It was pretty fast. Especially basketball on the radio. There’s a real quick pace to that. So it took – I mean it’s not like I have a huge basketball resume to begin with. But it was fun to do, fun to try to do something a little different. I think the last football game I did was in the fall of 2006. So, it’s been pretty much straight baseball.

Do you prefer it that way? I know Jim Jackson (also on Phillies radio team) does hockey and Tom McCarthy (Phillies TV play-by-play man) does a lot of football and basketball. Do you prefer it that way, or is it also because your kids are young?

     Yeah, I’m pretty lazy by nature, so, I think I just really like the time off. And I’m very fortunate to have it in the winter. And there are a few weeks there you really need it, just to take the break. And, as you said, I have young kids so it’s great to be around with them for most of the winter. Again, I feel like everyone has their own sort of motor and what speed they run at. Tom, T-Mac is an animal doing all of those games. The funny thing is, when Tom is not doing a game you’ll get funny texts from him. You can just tell from the texts that he’s bored out of his mind if he’s not doing a game. He just loves it so much. I love doing it. And I guess if there was an opportunity out there that provided the right number or something like that, I might consider it. But right now I just like being at home and taking the winters off.

How would you describe your style of broadcasting baseball games? Again, it’s one that works because the fans like you a lot.

     I don’t know, that’s a tough question. I guess some would say it’s kind of laid back. I try not to take myself too seriously. Certainly, my partner follows that same strategy. I think – what I hope we’re able to accomplish is when the game is a good game, and the game speaks for itself, that we are able to let it do that. And when it doesn’t (and) when it’s not a good game, there’s a little room to maneuver (and) hopefully, we can entertain a little bit, keep people interested and listening for a little bit longer.

Do you have a favorite call of yours that you’ve made? I’m sure you’ve had that question several times.

     I have had that question several times. I can’t really say there’s a favorite. It’s less about calls and more about the memories of being in some of those spots. You know, those are obviously some of my most fun times as a professional. To be there. You just remember things, like how brutally cold it was in Denver (2009 playoffs), how unbelievably loud and raucous it was in Los Angeles during the NLCS. Different things like that. The thrill of everything that happened at Citizens Bank Park in ’08. Whether it was (Roy) Halladay’s perfect game – you know even a lot of the non-playoff games. To me what sticks out is the energy of it all, the energy of that era. The feeling that was in your gut every time the ninth inning came around and the Phillies were down by two, you just knew that something great could happen, and that was a lot of fun for me.

Do you have a favorite call by someone else, where you think they just nailed it, whether it’s a popular one we all know or something more obscure?

     Well, I mean I’m always a fan of – it’s funny, I think some of my favorite calls happened on television and maybe they’re more well-known. And doing them on television is much different than doing them on radio. You know, some of the Vin Scully calls where he calls it, lays out and disappears, lets the crowd roar. That’s just something that’s so classic, yet it’s a TV thing. You can’t always do that on radio. You can do it a little bit. But you can’t totally give yourself to that. I mean, you can let it breathe, can let it happen, and you can let the crowd rise up. But, at the same time, there’s a lot of people that don’t have a picture in front of them. And they’re relying on you to give that picture.

     I think from, I don’t know, not so much a technically sound call or anything like that, not the mechanics of it or anything, but the emotion I get by seeing that video of seeing Harry (Kalas) call that final out (of the 2008 World Series), that’s something that will live with me forever. Just being around him for even just a short time, knowing what that meant to him. We work a long time in this business and we work closely with a select group of people and you get to be really good friends and you root for them, even when you move on to different organizations you root for them. And, you know, you just know how much that meant to Harry, to be in that moment and to get that opportunity finally after all of these years. So, I think less than the call for me it’s the video of him, the scene of him doing that, Wheels (Chris Wheeler) celebrating in the background.

It was perfect.

     (Wheeler) is a guy who suffered for so many years watching some bad teams. For him to be in that moment (too). For me, that means a lot. I wasn’t in the room at the time, I was actually down in the grounds keepers room, waiting to be let on the field. So I didn’t get to be in the room when that happened. So it was really cool that that video exists not only to take me there but to take all of us there.

I agree, whoever’s idea it was to shoot that, they nailed it.


I can go a couple different routes here since you mentioned the difference between radio and TV, but you also mentioned Harry Kalas. What’s your best memory of him, or if there was one thing he did that sticks with you about how he did the job that you learned from him?

     As far as how he did the job and what I learned from him, I didn’t see the way he operated in the booth obviously [since he was working in another booth at the same time], so I didn’t see him that way. I saw a bit of what he did in preparation. But what always sticks out to me, and what I mention many times is the reverence with, the esteem he held for our fans. He was so humbled by the fact that the Phillies fans loved him. We’d go places, early on in my days, first or second year and it just struck me all the time. We’d go on the road and there would be fans waiting by the team bus or outside hotels and Harry was the number one attraction. It wasn’t about Ryan Howard or Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley, even though they were all there, they weren’t the main attraction. It was Harry. Harry was the rock star. He always had time for people, he never turned anyone away. I think, for me, just watching him and the way he related to our fans and the way he was just so gracious with his time with the fans was something all of us can learn a little bit from, especially in this business, because what we do is for them, is for the fans.

     And the other big Harry memory I have and it goes back to ’08, the parade. We were on one of the floats with the Phanatic there and Harry was on there. And I remember when they were staging it and lining up, I don’t really know, I was under the impression that there were so many people around City Hall that they were trying to make a hole basically to get the parade started. It seemed like we waited on Market Street for an eternity for it to start. We would just crawl forward, crawl forward. And the fans there just showering 'H.K.' with affection. I actually have an old video (of it), it was an old video camera at the time, before we were shooting video every second on your cellphone, of Harry, waving to the fans and being right there up close with him on the float, the truck. Again, he was so overwhelmed by it. It was just a cool thing to be a part of and see.

Why radio over TV? Do you prefer radio? I get that question from fans often. Just curious, do you like being able to draw the picture on the radio more, or is there a possibility TV could be in your future at some point?

     I don’t know, I don’t know that it is. I think maybe [laughs] what’s the expression, that the horse is out of the barn there. I don’t know. I do really like doing radio. I have always liked it. It’s not like I’ve done a lot of television to say, ‘This is better than the other.’ … I just know that I really like doing radio. I don’t see any reason to go to television really. I think the other thing about it is if you’re the radio guy, you get to call the playoffs and you get to call the World Series. Maybe that wouldn’t matter as much to me if we hadn’t done it before, but those five years, as I’ve said before, those are some of the my most cherished memories as a professional in this industry, and in this business and my life here in Philadelphia. To give that up, it just doesn’t seem like it’s something that’s worth it to me. And, again, I do like the mechanics, the way radio is done. I feel like, I don’t know, I’m comfortable doing it. I like who I work with [laughs]. And, I don’t know, there’s definitely a certain freedom to it. They by and large leave us alone, so that’s a lot of fun.

Let’s try a lighting round.

     Uh oh.

Do you have a favorite Phillies player that you had the chance to call games, like you said, there are so many memories during that five-year run. Any one player that sticks out?

     Well, I just always loved watching Utley play, from Day One Utley was the guy. I’d have to give a slight second to Roy Halladay when he was in his prime. He was just an animal, a true ace and an animal.

Do you have a least favorite player?

     Least favorite? No…

You can go with someone who worked too slow on the mound or something …

     I wouldn’t say I have a least favorite. But let’s say I do have favorites and everyone else is a close second, how about that?

[Laughs]. That’s a politically correct way to answer that.


Do you have a favorite sport other than baseball?

     Favorite sport other than baseball? I’ve always been a casual fan of college basketball, so I’d say that. The tournament is the one event that I get really jazzed for watching, it’s really fun to watch. So college basketball.

Right. You’re from Texas, correct?


Are you allowed to publicly admit which NFL team you would support?

     I don’t support any NFL teams at this point. I will freely admit as a young man I was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan. But those days are behind me now. I still hear about them from friends and family back home, I certainly know what they’re up to this year. I’ve heard all about it. [Laughs]. But I just, you know once the (baseball) season ends, the first of October, I’ll be honest, I don’t watch a whole lot of sports on TV.

Yeah, it’s funny, I remember people telling me it’d be that way when I was getting into sports journalism, that you’d get sick of sports. I didn’t think that'd ever be true, but I think it is. I watch college football, but that’s really it. I don’t watch the NFL or NBA much at all.

     I might be more into college football if I had a team. But, you know, my alma mater (Southern Methodist University), you know…

They've got my alma mater Clemson’s old offensive coordinator (Chad Morris) as the head coach.

     Yeah, I know. He’s done a good job, he’s done a good job. But they’re talking as if someone else is going to snatch him up, I guess there were all of these rumors that Baylor was going to hire him. So, I don't know.

I know you’re big into music. Do you have any favorite, one that sticks out?

     Aw man, I have a lot of them. But I’ve gotten to know Amos Lee a little bit and I’m a big fan of his.

How about the last concert you’ve been to?

     What was the last concert I’ve been to … I think it was Amos Lee, actually. In September.

Yeah, I was just about to say it can be tough for us. In the summer, it’s tough to get to anything (with baseball games every night).

     I know. I live two blocks from the Mann (Center for Performing Arts) believe it or not. All of my neighbors, my wife, they’re always going to great shows over that that I miss because I’m at the ballpark. But that was one night where we came back from Washington and he was playing on a Sunday night and I had the night off, so that worked out. But those are very few and far between. And with three kids six and under, it kind of limits your concert going abilities.

Last one. What does L.A. hate more: umpires or rain delays?

Uhhhh … ooooh… that’s a really good question. Oh man. I’m going to say rain delays. Because he does like some umpires. He hates all rain delays.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21