Three weeks ago, Dan Shulman called his final game as ESPN’s primary Sunday Night Baseball announcer. Earlier in the summer, it was revealed that Shulman would be stepping down as the play-by-play broadcaster following this season because of a desire to spend more time at his home in Toronto.
During Shulman’s final broadcast (a forgettable Astros-Angels game), there were no tributes to him, and his signoff at the end of the contest gave nothing away in regards to his departure.
According to Shulman in an interview with the Sports Business Journal, the Sunday Night Baseball crew wanted to pay tribute to him, but he didn’t want anything to do with it.
“I went into it thinking that it’s not about me,” Shulman said. “I didn’t want to put myself ahead of the telecast or ahead of the game in any way. It’s just not my style.”
In fact, a week before the game, Shulman got an inkling that “Sunday Night Baseball” producer Andy Reichwald was planning to produce something to honor Shulman during that final telecast.
“I begged our producer the week before,” Shulman said. “I said, ‘If you’re planning anything, please don’t.’ He got this look in his eye that told me that he was planning something. Whatever it was, he stopped because I asked him not to.”
Shulman also mentioned that if he was actually retiring or leaving ESPN for good, he might have welcomed more attention for his departure.
One of the smoothest voices in the game, Shulman said he probably would not have been so publicity shy if he were retiring for good.
“But I’m not retiring. I’m just making a change. I’m still there for basketball and some baseball and radio.”
Whoever takes over for Shulman will be just the third full-time play-by-play broadcaster in the history of Sunday Night Baseball, replacing him and his predecessor, the legendary Jon Miller. ESPN seemingly has a tailor-made replacement for Shulman already under their umbrella in Jon Sciambi, but no announcement has been made about who will take over in 2018.
As for the analyst position (or positions, if ESPN continues going with a three person booth), it’s easy to question whether either of Aaron Boone or Jessica Mendoza will be back for the 2018 season. Seven different analysts, including those two, have set next to Shulman since the departure of Miller and Joe Morgan following the 2010 season, resulting in a lack of consistency in the role.
With Shulman following past analysts like Terry Francona, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, Curt Schilling, and Bobby Valentine out the door, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if one (or both) of Boone or Mendoza joined him, opening the door for another ESPN analyst to get the Sunday Night Baseball gig alongside Sciambi, or whoever ESPN decides to name as the new play-by-play broadcaster.