Philadelphia Phillies broadcasts in 2014 will sound different. The club announced on Wednesday that long-time broadcasters Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews would not be returning to the booth, less than a week after announcing their new television deal.
Neither announcer was very beloved by the fanbase, but their departures still come as a shock. Wheeler has been with the organization since 1971, and has been a broadcaster for the team for 37 years. Matthews hasn't been with the team as a broadcaster nearly as long, but still has logged seven years of service in Philly.
Both men are expected to remain with the organization in other roles, as is play-by-play man Tom McCarthy. Wheeler and Matthews rotated in and out of the color commentary position, and there will likely just be one replacement for the pair as opposed to two. A replacement wasn't immediately announced, though former Phillies players Brad Lidge, Chris Coste, and Ricky Bottalico, who works as a studio analyst for Comcast, have been mentioned. The hire will be made by Comcast as opposed to the team, and current radio broadcasters Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen aren't in the running for the position.
It's going to be interesting to see which direction the Phillies go, because this is an organization that hasn't had much change in the broacast booth in recent years. Wheeler was the last remaning link to the 1980 and 1993 Phillies teams that captivated fans across the Delaware Valley, and his departure really does mark the end of an era. As someone who grew up and resides in central Pennsylvania, it will be weird to not hear his voice during Phillies games, even if he had lost his fastball some years ago.