ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball crew is an energetic group of talented baseball lovers! From accomplished broadcaster Matt Vasgersian, to writer and reporter Buster Olney, to all-time Yankees great Alex Rodriguez—this group has perspectives from every direction!
These three men travel every Sunday to different MLB stadiums to see the game’s top athletes play. From watching MVP favorites like Shohei Ohtani to seeing the teams that have a chance to win a pennant like the Giants and Dodgers, this crew gets to experience one of the best games every week for the entire season!
I had the opportunity to talk with all three men prior to the MLB Little League Classic game in Williamsport, PA. While they all had different paths that led them onto the Sunday Night Baseball team, their broadcasting chemistry creates top-level MLB shows.
Here’s a Q&A highlighting some of the conversations that I had with Matt, Buster, and Alex.
SIK: When did you decide that you wanted to get into sports reporting?
Matt: When I realized that I was a terrible athlete...probably when I was six years old.
SIK: What was it like going from broadcasting minor league games to now being a part of the Sunday Night Baseball team these past few years?
Matt: It was exciting! It was much bigger than working in the minors ever was so—you could make fewer mistakes. The stakes weren’t as high [in the minors] because nobody was listening to the games on the radio, so I could make mistakes.
SIK: What has been your favorite memory or game that you have broadcasted and why?
Matt: The World Baseball Classic at Petco Park. I used to work for the Padres, and it was Team USA against the Dominican Republic. Adam Jones made an amazing catch, and the ballpark was full. Nobody was expecting it to be sold out. Also, a postseason game when Francisco Lindor hit a huge homer against the Yankees. There’s a lot of them, but the first one is the one that really pops out in my mind.
SIK: How did you get into journalism?
Buster: I had the same sort of epiphany that Matt did. About the time that I was realizing that I wasn’t going to be a power forward for the Lakers (lots of laughs) at age 15, there was a columnist for the New York Times named Red Smith. He was the first sports reporter to ever win a Pulitzer Prize. He came and spoke at my high school. I was like right away at 15 years old, ‘That looks like it would be fun to do.’ So I pretty much knew what I wanted to do from the time that I was 15. My mom was not initially happy, because she wanted me to be a lawyer and thought I was deferring adulthood, but she was 100% on board after about five years.
SIK: How do you juggle writing stories daily, preparing for baseball games, and recording the Baseball Tonight podcast?
Buster: I like it because it all sort of fits together. Each of the things that we do sort of feeds into the other ones. By the time I write a column in the morning and record a podcast it's about 10 a.m. and then you are ready to go onto SportsCenter or other shows. Then, we will have our conference call on Sunday Night Baseball on Thursdays usually so you will be fully versed and 100% feeling like you're prepared to move forward.
SIK: What has been your favorite memory in your writing and reporting career so far and why?
Buster: I was lucky that I got to cover Tony Gwynn. He was a Hall of Famer, but also incredibly anecdotal as he spoke. So when he told stories, he would put you on the field and I felt like I was really fortunate to cover him. I also covered the Yankees for the Times during 9/11. We would never want that [tragedy] to be repeated again, but it was really cool how the entire country got behind the Yankees during the World Series.
SIK: While you were playing in the MLB, did you always know that you wanted to be a broadcaster after retiring?
Alex: No, never. I never once thought that I would be a broadcaster. It just kind of happened by coincidence.
SIK: What was it like getting to broadcast and be at the Field of Dreams game in Iowa?
Alex: It was like a Field of Dreams. It was a dream come true for me. I’m a baseball nerd and I really geeked out. The game was incredible and the weather was perfect. It was sold out, and you could just feel that it was a special moment. I can’t wait to go back!
What was your favorite memory from when you played in the MLB?
Alex: That’s an easy one. For me, it was being a part of a world championship team in 2009 with the New York Yankees.
Tune in every Sunday in September to hear this crew on ESPN!