Dan Shulman has spent the past seven seasons as the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Who can replace him in 2018 and beyond?
Since 1990, ESPN has broadcasted marquee baseball games on Sunday night’s and only two individuals in that span have held the play-by-play seat on the telecast. The first two decades it was done by Jon Miller and since 2011, Dan Shulman has held the position.
Next season that broadcast will see a new voice on the telecast as Shulman announced he will step down from the position he held to cut back his schedule. He will still have a role in ESPN’s coverage of Major League Baseball and will remain in his position as the lead voice on the network’s college basketball coverage. Shulman is one of the best voices in the business and he will be missed on the Sunday Night telecast.
Where ESPN goes from here is not determined yet. They have a number of candidates in-house capable of filling the position which will be an important decision made later this year. Here are potential candidates that could take over the Sunday Night play-by-play duties next season.
Karl Ravech has been with ESPN since 1993 and currently serves as the studio host of Baseball Tonight every week leading into Sunday Night Baseball. He does play-by-play for Monday Night Baseball and will be the new voice of the Home Run Derby at the MLB All-Star Game taking place next week in Miami. He also does studio work for College Basketball and is the lead voice of the Little League World Series.
Ravech has been a mainstay on ESPN’s baseball coverage over the years and has filled in from time to time for Shulman in the past so he could be viewed as the lead candidate. Other than his work with the Little League World Series as a lead voice for a marquee event, he hasn’t had much of that in the past which could hurt his chances. The network might not also want to remove him from the studio which he does a good job of as host but he could get serious consideration this time as he might not be quick to depart this job.
One of the up and coming broadcasters in the business is Dave Flemming who currently does work in multiple sports for ESPN since joining in 2010. He is also the radio voice of the San Francisco Giants on KNBR. He has also done radio work with Stanford football and fill in work for the Golden State Warriors.
Flemming might be what ESPN is going to look for in filling this vacancy, a young candidate looking for a marquee spot and a mainstay.
In recent years on the college side, his assignments have grown to events such Thursday Night College Football and key Saturday afternoon games. He has called a number of playoff games in his work for the Giants radio who have made four postseason appearances since 2010 with three World Series championships. He is a good listen and knows the game well and has worked with some strong talent in San Francisco including his radio partner Jon Miller. The Giants would also be familiar with talent doing the Sunday night game as Miller did both jobs when he was at ESPN.
Jon Sciambi joined ESPN full time in 2010 and he does play-by-play for the coverage of baseball on both television and radio along with college basketball. He is the main voice of the network’s Wednesday Night Baseball package along with contributing to the Little League World Series. He previously served as the voice of the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins in his career.
In this situation, Sciambi is viewed in a similar category as Karl Ravech. Another mainstay on the network’s baseball coverage and can bring in a smooth transition next season. Back in 2010 when this job was last open, ESPN was in a different time as they are now today so holding onto valuable talent might be important after the layoffs earlier this year. Sciambi is another good voice covering baseball and works well with every analyst he is paired with. He also has experience in a three-team booth which could also go to his advantage.
Adam Amin joined ESPN in 2011 at age 24 and is one of the network’s youngest on air voices. He calls a multitude of sports and events including ESPN’s College Football Friday Primetime series, Major League Baseball, college basketball, and other events. In 2016, he became the lead voice for “The NFL on ESPN Radio.”
For him this would be a major step up to being the voice of Sunday Night Baseball. This one could get complicated with his schedule when football season approaches as the network may opt to keep him on his current schedule not to lose him potentially off other key events of coverage. Amin is smart and well prepared for each telecast and has worked with a number of different analysts and can quickly make a mark on any assignment given. This would be a dark horse candidate and possibly a long shot to fill the role due to other assignments but should get consideration.
Jason Benetti joined ESPN in 2011 and does work for coverage of College Basketball, Football and Baseball including the College World Series. He is also the television voice of the Chicago White Sox and will become the lead voice next season.
Benetti originally joined the White Sox last season to do the home schedule only as longtime voice Ken Harrelson reduced his schedule to road games only. Recently it was announced that Harrelson will retire after the 2018 season and work only select games next season making Benetti the main voice of the White Sox. This news might complicate things to have him as a serious candidate to take over Sunday Night Baseball. He already has to miss time for College Baseball and Football coverage so it might not work to have him in the role. His work in the booth for the White Sox will have him considered but probably a long shot for the job.