Dick Bremer arrived in Fort Myers, Florida, on a Sunday in March and entered the Twins Club for the first time in more than two years the next morning. In the 45 minutes he was working at the club, he had 15 conversations with players, coaches and staff.
Conversation types that provide color and detail for broadcasts. The types of conversations that help enlighten the broadcaster about the daily ins and outs of the team. The kinds of conversations he’s been missing out on over the past two years.
“It was mostly stuff that I could catch on the next broadcast, right? And that’s what viewers deserve, someone with that ability to connect with players because the numbers are all online,” said Bremer, longtime TV anchor for Twins. “I think with the evolution of broadcasting, that connection is more important now than it has ever been.”
However, over the past two years, broadcasters have been denied the ability to make these connections, kept out of clubs and out of the way due to COVID-19. Broadcasters for the Twins have resumed travel this season, and for the first time since 2019, they will call an on-site road game Friday in Fenway Park when the Twins face the Red Sox at 1:10 p.m.
While the Twins’ TV and radio crews have made short trips to spring training in the past two years, the trip to Fenway marks a return to normalcy for the twins’ broadcaster group.
And they couldn’t be more prepared for that.
“It’s great for our audience,” said Cory Profus, presenter on the radio. “It’s great for our fan base that we can once again tell stories without relying on other people, that we can go out and build relationships and interact with guys that we haven’t been able to do in person for the past two years. It’s such a vital part of the party, so I’m excited to be back. to the road.”
Beginning in July 2020, when the 60-game cut-off season began, when the team was going to hit the road, the Twins’ TV and Radio crew would appear at Target Field and call the games from afar.
It wasn’t all bad. For Provus, the advantage of a travel schedule reduced to nothing means the days and weeks he spends with his wife, Dana, and their two children he would not otherwise have. But between technical accidents, poor play and being away from players and coaches on the field, the task was not easy at all.
“I will say this up front, 47 years of broadcasting and there is nothing I am more proud of than being part of an industry that has been able to broadcast these games on air under the conditions we had to work with,” Bremer said. “But it was like playing games in black and white, and now we’ll be able to play them in color again.”
When the twins were in Kansas City, Baltimore, or Seattle, Bremer and partner Du Jour were sitting at Target Field, watching the recap on TV in their booth. The same goes for Provus and his broadcast partner, Dan Gladden, next door.
There was a time last season when the club was in Chicago and second base captain Jorge Polanco hit a ball that Bremer thought he saw as a foul. He declared it that way, but seconds later, when he saw Polanco heading for second as part of his home jog, Bremer realized his mistake.
He said he was embarrassed, but given the nutrition he was given, he described the situation as best he could. Moments like that, for the most part, were few and far between.
“I know a lot of viewers couldn’t tell we weren’t there, but we can tell, and that makes a huge difference in the world,” Bremer said. “No matter what your job is, if you feel that you can do your job well, you will do it better. But when you don’t feel that you can do it well, the pleasure of the job diminishes because of it.”
Summoning games from thousands of miles away presented one set of challenges. The lack of contact with players, coaches and other decision makers was another factor.
Profus, as a young Chicago anchor of years ago, took advice from longtime Bears radio host Jeff Juniak that stuck with him. The gist of it: Find something your listeners haven’t read, seen or heard elsewhere and bring them fresh content.
Take this advice seriously. While he could still reach director Rocco Baldelli and others via Zoom, trying to find unique content — it didn’t have to be a big scoop, but rather a body of information that listeners would enjoy — broadcasting over the airwaves was difficult.
“You can’t do that,” said Profus. “Now we can, and that was something I’m looking forward to doing again, just interacting with people, decision makers, players, all things and doing what we can to try and deliver new content every day.”
The primary beneficiary of broadcasters with this kind of access and travel back is not the same, Bremer said, but rather the viewers and listeners who will join in a richer, more informative broadcast.
“If you love baseball, Fenway Park is always an emotional ride anyway, but it’s going to be very special this year because the things we might have taken for granted all those years, we’ll never take for granted again and being there on that date,” he said. Bremer, to be there in person again would be really special.