McCarthy's view from the booth
Tom McCarthy is in the sixth year of his second tour of duty with the Phillies doing television play-by-play. In his first stint with the club, he spent five seasons (2001 to 2005) hosting the pre- and postgame radio shows, while also doing radio play-by-play.
I caught up with Tom during spring training in Clearwater, Fla. What follows is a question-and-answer session with McCarthy, who broke into the business doing radio play-by-play for the minor league Trenton Thunder from 1994 to 2004.
Eric Stark: When did you feel comfortable being the voice of the Phillies doing play-by-play?
Tom McCarthy: I guess I don't look at myself as the voice of the team, because on radio we have a great voice in Scott Franzke, who is one of my best friends. I kind of look at us as just one of the group. I am a radio guy, just doing TV.
Scott and I are similar in age, and I think as we do this more, we'll become more comfortable with what our abilities are, and with that comes more confidence that this is who I am.
ES: You started off as a sideline reporter, but then took over for Harry Kalas. How much of a challenge was that?
TM: The thought was, when I came back from the Mets, that I would eventually take over for Harry, whenever Harry decided to retire. We thought 10 years down the road. He earned the right to dictate when he wanted to go.
I guess I never looked at it as replacing, but as being the next guy there. Harry's style is so different than any young broadcaster's style. He always told me to try and be myself and not try to be someone else.
ES: What are the challenges switching from radio to television?
TM: With television, it is a little bit less of the play-by-play guy and more of the color analyst. On radio, it's more of the play-by-play guy and less of the analyst, if that makes any sense. For me it was saying things in fewer words and not saying things when the pictures can tell the story. That's still a challenge for me.
ES: I noticed with the Phillies that you have to mix in a lot more advertising into the game action.
TM: That's every sport we do now. Fortunately, I have an unbelievably talented truck telling me what to say in my ear. They make it very easy for me.
ES: Is that frustrating to read advertising during the live action?
TM: No. I think the biggest thing is having patience. I might have to do it here, but there is going to be time to do other things as the game goes on. From a listener's standpoint and a viewer's standpoint, you probably sit there and say, "Let's just watch the game." I know I would be that way as a fan. But it is part of it. In the NFL, I have so many more advertisements to read, from being in the Red Zone, to the drive of the game, to this field goal is sponsored by… I have a stack of cards.
ES: You do a nice job of asking your analysts questions during games. How much do you prepare for those conversations?
TM: Sometimes with Sarge [Gary Matthews] we talk before he goes on. Like with Darin Ruf's defense on fly ball, I will say, Gary think about how you want to talk about this and I will lead you in. But I'd say 90 percent is unscripted.
ES: Heard you this year with NFL games. How do you enjoy broadcasting the NFL?
TM: I absolutely love it. It is one of the best things I do. I love the pacing of football on radio. I love the energy of the NFL. I thought when I went from college to the NFL that I would miss the pomp and circumstance of college, and I do to a certain extent. But I love doing a different NFL game every week.
Staff writer Eric Stark discusses trends and tidbits in broadcast media each week in the Sunday News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.