SAN FRANCISCO – You know Duane Kuiper. He's the play-by-play announcer for the Giants, one of the best play-by-play announcers in baseball.
If you're younger than 30, you may not know he used to play in the majors, too. He was a second baseman for the Indians and Giants in the 1970s and '80s. He was a pretty good player, but he's a great announcer.
And he's one of the few ex-baseball-players to become a play-by-play announcer. Pat Summerall and Frank Gifford did it in football, and former pitcher Jeff Brantley is trying it for the Reds this season.
Kuiper's a broadcasting prodigy. He was discovered when he was 26, his third year on the Indians, by a man named Ray Koeppen. Koeppen had done shows with Cleveland Browns players, and he wanted to do a baseball show. One day he was listening to the Indians' pregame show with play-by-play announcer Joe Tate, and Kuiper was Tate's guest.
“Koeppen thought I had something that was workable,” Krukow said in the Giants' dugout at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, three hours before the first pitch. “Maybe it was my personality. Maybe it was the sound of my voice. I guess that's why he chose me over somebody else.”
Kuiper has a deep voice, deeper than legendary Giants play-by-play announcer Lon Simmons. Kuiper sounds like a jazz D.J. the way he keeps his voice slow and low.
And he has a distinct personality. He was never an All-Star, so he doesn't have a superstar ego like, say, Joe Morgan. Kuiper can relate to the audience. He's your neighbor. You trust him. You'd go to him to borrow a rake or to ask advice, and you'd always invite him over to watch the game.
Koeppen gave Kuiper a five-minute show Monday through Friday, year-round. Kuiper wrote the shows by himself, then went to the studio on Monday and taped all five shows.
“The station was so small, the only way you could hear the show was if you were driving by the station in your car,” Kuiper said as he sat against the back wall of the dugout. “I was pretty confident that I could be bad and not be afraid of the microphone because no one would hear me.”