Jim Kaat is hanging up his suspenders (although it looks like he’s already stopped wearing them).
The recently-inducted Hall of Famer and longtime television analyst has retired. Kaat closed out his broadcast career Thursday night by calling Yankees-Blue Jays for MLB Network. A fitting final assignment given he spent so many years in the Yankees’ booth. He had most recently been doing Twins games locally in addition to his national work.
Ovation at Yankee Stadium for Jim Kaat who called his final game tonight, retiring after nearly 40 years of broadcasting. Kaat (analyst) worked w/ Matt Vasgersian (pbp) & @jonmorosi (reporter) for his final game – #Yankees vs. #BlueJays on MLB Network #MLB pic.twitter.com/nd5RdfRqmu
— Announcer Schedules (@announcerskeds) August 19, 2022
It’s good to see Kaat, 83, was able to call it on his own terms. Because odds were against that after two significant on-air controversies in the last 10 months.
Kaat came under fire last year during the ALDS for comments about White Sox star Yoan Moncada.
“Get a 40-acre field full of ’em,” Kaat said while praising Moncada. Critics said the comment was racially-charged given freed slaves were guaranteed 40 acres of land after the Civil War — a promise the U.S. government rescinded.
Kaat apologized during the game: “Earlier in the game when Yoan Moncada was at the plate, in an attempt to compliment the great player that he is, I used a poor choice of words that resulted in an insensitive and hurtful remark. And I’m sorry for that,” he said.
Kaat then called Yankees southpaw Nestor Cortes “Nestor the Molester” during a Twins-Tigers game in May. He did not apologize publicly for that, but he did apologize to Cortes. Cortes was very gracious in his public comments after the incident, supporting Kaat and saying he took no offense. He presented Kaat with the Yankees’ franchise lifetime achievement award in June when Kaat was in town.
All indications are Kaat’s foot-in-mouth moments were not malicious in any way. But fair or foul, he had become a liability in the booth based on the sensibilities of society in 2022. So stepping away on his own terms makes sense.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]