NESN shocked the baseball world today when reports made the rounds that the network would be replacing very popular play by play man Don Orsillo on Red Sox telecasts next season. Those reports were confirmed this evening when NESN announced that ESPN veteran and current Red Sox radio announcer Dave O’Brien would be taking over the television duties in 2016.
Here is NESN’s announcement in full:
NESN, New England’s most watched sports network, announced today that Dave O’Brien will become the network’s play-by-play voice for Red Sox baseball beginning in 2016.
O’Brien has been a familiar play-by-play voice of Red Sox baseball for the last nine years on WEEI 93.7 FM, the team’s flagship radio station, which is distributed throughout New England.
“This is absolutely a dream come true,” O’Brien exclaimed. “It will be a privilege to call Boston Red Sox games on NESN for one of the most storied franchises in Major League Baseball. And I look forward with great anticipation to working alongside Jerry Remy.” “We are excited to have Dave, one of baseball’s preeminent announcers, join the NESN team next season,” said Sean McGrail, NESN’s President and CEO.
O’Brien’s previous play-by-play experiences include the Atlanta Braves (1990-91), Florida Marlins (1993-2001) and New York Mets (2003-05). In addition, O’Brien has called games on TV for ESPN (2002-present) and ESPN Radio during the last few years. The New England native, born in Quincy, Massachusetts, attended Syracuse University, and currently resides in Rye, New Hampshire, with his wife and three children. He also has broadcast NFL, NBA, college basketball and soccer.
O’Brien will replace Don Orsillo, who began his career on NESN in 2001. Orsillo captured Red Sox fans’ imagination and excitement during the team’s three World Series championship seasons of 2004, 2007 and 2013.
“Don is an outstanding broadcaster, and we are grateful for all of his contributions to NESN’s telecast over the years,” McGrail said. “On behalf of everyone at NESN and the Boston Red Sox organization, we would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Don.”
There’s a couple of things worth noting here. For starters, Orsillo’s axing at NESN is being met with a revolt from angry Red Sox fans (just look at the replies here) who are completely stunned with the move. Why any team/network would want to get rid of a highly respected broadcaster who seemingly everybody loves is a great question. Other media members, broadcasters in Boston, and folks around baseball are equally as befuddled as to why Orsillo is being removed.
So, I've known Don for 20 yrs. Great guy. Scary part is, he's as good as it gets, did all that was asked, loyal. And got shown the door.
— Dave Goucher (@DavidCGoucher) August 26, 2015
Boston sports media guru Chad Finn reported that Orsillo “was never a favorite” of NESN’s relatively new VP of programming, so that probably has a lot to do with this unpopular decision.
Second, if the merits of letting Orsillo go is bad enough, NESN has not exactly covered itself in glory with how they’ve handled the switch. The tweet announcing O’Brien’s hiring was sent just minutes before Orsillo went on the air to call tonight’s Red Sox game. Now Orsillo has to finish the season under lame duck status and NESN gets to field an entire month of angry tweets, e-mails, and letters (do people still do those anymore) about how they screwed up. And not only that, now Dave O’Brien (a fine baseball broadcaster in his own right) now has to walk into a no-win situation next season as he moves from radio to television.
Hopefully Orsillo lands on his feet and gets the national job that he deserves, because he clearly deserves better than this exit from the Red Sox broadcast booth.