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Wither Budd?

I mentioned this about four months ago, but George Malik pointed to an item in the Denver Post (of all places) on the almost total disappearance of Budd Lynch as the PA announcer for the Red Wings this season.

The three comments below the Malik post can be summarized thusly:

Comment 1: Budd mumbles and is an old man, so get rid of him.

Comments 2 and 3: Budd is a legend and has been around forever, so cut him some slack.

 

Harry Caray had a stroke in 1987. While he made quite the recovery from that, from that point on, there was this ongoing discussion amongst Cubs fans as to whether Harry should step aside. "He can't prouounce players names. He's missing calls. He's leaning too much on Steve Stone." A lot of this argument came from fans who only knew Caray as a broadcaster for the Cubs, since he was with the team from 1983.

What younger fans never heard was his time with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1945 to 1969. His broadcast style was crisp, sharp, and completely free of gimmick (outside of his ability to shill Budwiser, which never left the man). He was, by any stretch, a classic baseball broadcaster, willing to voice the angle of the fan even if you end his career in St. Louis at 24 years.

After a year in Oakland, Caray did 11 years on the south side of Chicago calling White Sox games before the brilliant career move of choosing a lower offer from the Cubs to call games on a national superstation over the White Sox, who were moving all their games to a pay cable channel called SportsVision (this was a time when local all-sports cable channels were premium channels on par with HBO). The decision was a disaster for the White Sox, while it made Harry nationally known and locally beloved. (This kinda sounds familiar, don't it?)

I grew up listening to Harry 2.0, the king of Rush Street, with all the bobbles and errors, without any knowledge of Harry 1.0. When I became older and started finding the broadcast samples of the old Harry, it validated my love of him as an elder statesman. It broke my heart that Harry missed the 1998 season (despite the discoloration of that season since then).

 

I've done public address announcing in my past (I was a finalist for the Tigers PA job in 2004 that eventually went to Bobb Vergiels). One of things I was most proud of was trying to balance professionalism and excitement. You're there to give the information, not to overshadow what's going on. You respond to the moment, not overshadow or overwhelm it. It's what you don't get with, say, John Mason up at the Palace, whose Pistons PA work borders on the obnoxious.

Budd Lynch is as much the voice of this franchise as any in its history (I'll take him over Bruce Martyn, even though Martyn was the radio voice far longer). I don't quite know why the change has occurred (it'd be an interesting question to pose to PR staff). Perhaps the Ilitches have a fear (going back to having to fix the Ernie Harwell Tigers fiasco from 1991) that if they outright replace Budd something bad will happen.

I'd be satisfied if Lynch would handle the game announcements and John Fossen (the other guy) did the promotional announcements. But the bottom line is this: when you have a classic voice, you hold onto it as long as you can. The Wings do. Let's see if they want to.