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SABR 45: Chicago Broadcasters Talk Cubs Baseball

Yesterday was the first official day of the 2015 SABR Convention. Since there was an afternoon ballgame to attend, the morning only featured one panel. It focused on broadcasters, featured current Cubs voices Len Kasper, Ron Coomer, and Jim Deshaies, and was moderated by Curt Smith.

Smith posed many questions to the panelists and got them talking about their favorite Cubs season, Kris Bryant’s arrival to the Windy City, and how previous Chicago broadcaster greats influenced them as professionals and the city of Chicago as a whole. In between their comments, Smith added fun anecdotes of his own that added to the attendees’ enjoyment of the panel. 

Smith began by asking Deshaies about how the Cubs 2015 season. Deshaies shared that this season is off to a good — but different — start: After so many of broadcasting for teams that didn’t perform, Deshaies was glad that this season he is finally covering a team that is playing well! Although Deshaies is disappointed that the Cardinals’ success has been stopping the Cubs from being first in the National League Central, he thinks that the Cubs have a real shot at one of the Wild Card spots. This makes them an exciting team to watch, especially with the Cubs’ young talent.

In talking about the Cubs’ great start, Coomer and Kasper both said they’re impressed with the tone manager Joe Maddon set for the team this year. They added that Maddon’s attitude, combined with the talents acquired through trades, has helped the team immensely. This is evident in the success of Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell.

The next question: Can Bryant can be a star for years to come? Deshaies said that he feels Bryant has the skill to make more than 10 All-Star Games, not only because of his power at the plate but because of his base-running and fielding abilities. Coomer added that keeping Bryant in the minors for an extra two weeks to delay his free agency a year was a smart move.

Next, the panelists were asked about their favorite Cubs season and what makes being a Chicago broadcaster unique. Coomer had two favorites: He loved how well the team played in 1984, and he loved playing for them in 2001. Kasper said that the team was fun to watch in 2008, and Deshaies joked that he liked 2015 because he never pitched well at Wrigley Field in his career. Kaspar added some great insights about what made Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray such amazing broadcasters in this town.

Although they had different takes on favorite seasons, the broadcasters were unanimous about their passion for baseball in the Windy City. And the broadcasters’ takes were the perfect start to a day that ended with visit to Wrigley Field and one of the hometown teams they so love.

Max Mannis is a special correspondent for and a member of SABR. Check out his contributor page to catch up with his past stories on baseball and SABR events. 

Photo courtesy Max Mannis

sabr 45 broadcasters panel