On June 8, Bally Sports South put an interesting spin on the evening’s Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets game. The booth had no play-by-play broadcaster, instead containing four former players calling the game. Jeff Francoeur, Tom Glavine, Chipper Jones, and John Smoltz called the game, won by the Braves on a tenth-inning walk-off homer by Ozzie Albies, and it received plenty of praise online.
The players rotated home run calls, which included a wild Hawk Harrelson impression by Francoeur.
Various personalities across the league commented on the broadcast as well. Brian Anderson, Francoeur’s broadcast partner with TBS, expressed relief that his job would be safe, while MLB Network’s Mark DeRosa (a former Brave) and former Braves play-by-play announcer Jon Sciambi poked fun at Francoeur and Jones for ripping off home run calls.
“Glav was going to do a bunch of games, and Smoltzy committed to do some games,” Francoeur told Awful Announcing this week. “So all of a sudden, we decided it would be cool to do the three of us together. And then our producer Gretchen Kaney said ‘What if we got Larry in there and did it with him too?’ Then it kind of took off. Next thing you know, we kind of put it together and it ended up working out perfectly.”
“They brought it up to all of us earlier in the season and asked us if it was something we’d be interested in doing, and I think we all were,” Glavine said to AA. “We weren’t sure about the logistics of it and how it would all work, but I think ultimately we all got on board and decided to do it.”
The broadcast didn’t have a traditional play-by-play announcer, with the four players each taking charge at times. For Glavine, the format started off feeling different before everyone settled in, knowing this wasn’t going to be a standard by-the-book broadcast.
“It was a little bit odd,” he said. “I think on the one hand, the broadcast side of me, you could notice the lack of play-by-play, but I think that’s what they wanted. That was the whole premise when they came to us. It was essentially ‘We want it conversational, we want it as if people were sitting there with all of you guys watching the game.’
“I think that’s what we tried to do, and I think that’s the way it came across. I don’t know if it’s the kind of thing that diehard baseball fans would necessarily embrace for every game, but I think here and there, it’s a nice change and a break from the normal play-by-play.”
Francoeur felt similarly.
“When you’re only doing it for one or two games, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. And when you have guys like Chipper talking hitting, it was great. He went so in-depth with different things, and we had [Greg] Maddux call in. If this was something you felt like you had to do every night, I think it’s a little different. But when you know this is one or two times a year, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
He also added that he told Braves play-by-play broadcaster Brandon Gaudin that his job was “pretty safe”.
Both Francoeur and Glavine were full of praise for Gaudin in his first season as the voice of the Braves. Gaudin got the job this offseason to replace Chip Caray, and his entrance into the role has mostly been smooth.
“I worked with Chip for a long time,” Francoeur said. “And all of a sudden, you get a new partner. Chip and Brandon are very different, but I think the cool thing is that Brandon came in and wanted to form some kind of relationship.
“We went down to Spring Training for a day together, hung out, and I introduced him to everybody. When he got hired, I got texts from Smoltzy, A.J. Pierzynski, and some guys that I’ve worked with that were very high on him. So I was pretty comfortable and confident just from that because you’ve heard good stuff.”
“I think Brandon’s been great,” Glavine said of Gaudin. “For me, not being a guy that’s doing 100 games a year, kind of in and out, he’s easy to work with. When I haven’t done games for a decent stretch of time, when I do come back, getting in there and getting to work is seamless. He makes it really easy and does a great job. He’s very professional about the way he does his business and I think he’s certainly been a nice addition and a big asset for the Braves broadcasts.”
The pair were in firm agreement about who they’d want to join the booth in a future edition of these Braves player broadcasts: Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, Glavine’s teammate in Atlanta from 1993-2002. Back in June, Maddux called into the broadcast during the fourth inning.
GREG MADDUX ON THE PHONE ?
— Bally Sports South (@BallySportsSO) June 9, 2023
“The one guy that jumps to mind immediately is Maddux,” Glavine told AA. “It would be fun to get him in the mix. Not only a great pitcher but certainly a great thinker of the game. I think he would have some pretty good insight.”
Francoeur echoed those comments and also mentioned his former teammate (2005-2009) Brian McCann. The pair were both drafted by the Braves in 2002 and made their MLB debuts a month apart in 2005.
“If Maddux ever flew here and was on, I think he’d be pretty darn entertaining. Anyone who knows Maddux knows that he’d really let it fly. I also think McCann is going to come and do a few innings, which will be great. He obviously caught both Smoltzy and Tom, and was real close with Chipper too. I think that would be pretty good.
“But you have to have someone who wants to joke and have fun. There are some good people, but you’ve got to have some personality and be able to make light of things and crack up a little bit.”
Francoeur, Glavine, Jones, and Smoltz will be on the call of the Mets vs Braves game on August 23 on Bally Sports South at 7:20 p.m. ET.