One of baseball’s most visible broadcasting jobs will be open starting next season, as ESPN’s Dan Shulman announced via an interview with SI.com that he’s stepping down from the Sunday Night Baseball job after 2017.
Shulman heavily stressed that this was his decision, and not one forced upon him by ESPN, which makes sense, as he’s just about universally respected for his work in the booth.
In an interview with SI on Monday afternoon, Shulman said he is getting remarried next year and wanted a schedule to better fit being at home more in Toronto. He repeated several times during the interview that this was entirely his decision and not prompted by ESPN management.
“I certainly have mixed emotions about it but at the end of the day I chose to strike a better balance between my personal life and professional life,” Shulman said.
“I’m grateful to ESPN for giving me this opportunity, and equally grateful that they agreed to let me reconfigure my situation in order to make this work. It was not an easy choice. I have been thinking about it for months. I still want to accomplish certain things professionally but getting the balance in my personal life was the important thing. The older we get I think we sometimes reprioritize and I guess I’m doing that.”
Shulman will continue in his role as ESPN’s lead college basketball announcer, with a full slate of games this fall. He’ll also handle ESPN Radio duties for the baseball postseason. Shulman’s decision is unfortunate for viewers, and whoever ends up replacing him will have a high bar to clear. Shulman does an admirable job managing a three-person booth, which is never an easy role for a play-by-play voice.
ESPN has a few candidates who could step in, and it seems unlikely they’d go in a non-in-house direction for Shulman’s successor. Sunday Night Baseball has been around since 1990, but for the first two decades Jon Miller handled the play-by-play duties, before Shulman replaced him starting in 2011. For a broadcast that’s going on nearly thirty years, this is a rare change.
Hopefully Shulman’s schedule affords him the time at home he’s looking for, as he’s certainly earned that. And it’s great news that he’s not retiring for good. It’s just a shame we won’t have him on Sunday nights next summer.