Interviewing Dan Dickerson – Part 2

Continuing the interview with Tiger play-by-play announcer Dan Dickerson.

Part 1

DTW: How much research are you doing before each game and where are you finding your information?
DD: I love to get my hands on as much information as I can. At heart I’m probably just a complete stathead. I think that’s probably one of the things that got me into the game was the numbers. I played stratomatic baseball as a kid, I think that probably helped cement my love for the game. I love the numbers, I love the stats. I know you can’t do too much of that on a broadcast, but I do think it helps you understand how to evaluate players, how to try and evaluate players anyways, how teams build their rosters.

I like to read as much as I can. I like to read opposing papers and try and get a weeks worth of clips or more, print them out, and try to get a feel for what that team is doing now. Most of the information would come from the internet. Newspapers, websites. The team websites have become more valuable because you get some good feature stories. There’s no end to the baseball websites. If you’d click on My Favorites you’d see quite a few baseball websites I go to. I don’t know if you go to Hardball Times, but I think that has really become an outstanding website.

You can never have enough, and the fascinating part is how does it all fit, and a lot of it doesn’t fit into a broadcast.

DTW: Is the Detroit Tigers Weblog on your list of favorites?
DD: It is
DTW: That’s good to hear
DD: I didn’t go to a lot of those websites because I didn’t really know if it was a lot of guys making comments, and some of those sites are guys just posting stuff that is idiotic stuff. But then I did see your website, and I saw some of the stuff you do. I like some of the historical stuff as well as current stuff.
DTW: What is a typical game day like for you during the season?
DD: If it’s home, usually I’d get down there before 2:30 and 3:00. I like getting down there early, and 3:00 is aout as late as I want to get there for a home game. The clubhouse opens at 3:30, and if you get there early then you’ve got an hour to set your computer up, and start thinking about what you’re going to do that night.

I head down to the clubhouse between 3:30 and 4:00, and work both clubhouses. That’s one of the things I got from Ernie, because as much as I like stats, Ernie was very much people oriented. I think in the early days he introduced me to a lot of the people he knew and opened some doors for me. Just to see him go down to the opposing clubhouse, if not everyday then at least every series. He’d pop his head in the manager’s office, sometimes just to say hi and move along. Other times he’d have a specific target in mind, and if he didn’t know him, he’d introduce himself, or if he did know him he’d just go in and chat. To me it’s just not that easy to walk into a strange clubhouse, introduce yourself, and launch into some specific questions about his career, but I try and make sure I do that.

So I go down show my face, and sometimes strike up a conversation. Sometimes you get on a topic you weren’t expecting, sometimes it’s personal stuff, sometimes it’s baseball stuff. I just think that is one of the most fun parts of the job is that you get to ask the people who know so much about the game. No matter how much you and I think we know, we’ll never know the game at the same level these guys do. They see things in a different way, and to be able to go in and talk to a Carlos Pena, a Craig Monroe, a Brandon Inge about something that happened. Maybe it was a mistake they made but I want to have it in my mind whether it was a mistake that could have been avoided, or something that happened that I didn’t see on the play. Sometimes you’ll find out stuff that you didn’t realize, like “I hitched on the throw because the second baseman wasn’t at the base” or “That ball caught the lip of the infield and shot up into my gut.” The things that aren’t obvious on a replay or aren’t obvious at the time. To me that’s the real value in getting to know these guys, is they’ll tell you things that help you understand what went on in a game or what is going on in their lives as they struggle through a 2-25 slump. To me that’s a lot of fun and I’ll stay down there until 5:00-5:30.

Then I’ll get back up and get the lineups and fill out the lineup card and scribble in some notes by each guy’s name if there is anything that seems like it might fit. I know it seems like the last 2 hours always zoom by. It’s funny, you start righting stuff down and think “what about this” so you look it up in the computer, or “what did he do last year,” just little things that might pop up as your writing down a guys name. I try to keep bios on each player and a print out of the opposing team. You just kind of see what ends up on your paper that day. You talk to opposing broadcasters and get their take on things. You have dinner and you’re ready to go at 7:00pm.

DTW: Your home run call, “Way Back and Gone!” was that something that you rehearsed or did it just evolve naturally?
DD: I think especially for the deep ones it seems to work. It just came out one day. One day I said “Long Gone” [Ernie Harwell’s trademark call] and I was so mortified I made sure I had a different way to say it. When it’s way back you want to give the impression that it’s not one scraping the fence, it just seemed to work one day. I don’t use it every time because not every homer is deep, but if it was a Carlos Pena homer from the second half, it was deserving of that.

I try to vary it, but I guess the more you do it, the more you realize that “Gone” works, like “Score” in hockey. You’re hitting it, you’re punching it, and giving it your signature with your voice and the way you say it. I think a lot of guys say it, and I try not to get too fancy with it. I’ll use different calls from time to time, but when people hear “Gone” they know what’s going on.

DTW: What’s been your most memorable call?
DD: I always think of the Brandon Inge versus Troy Percival[Sunday, August 23rd, 2003]call because it was 2003, and it was a 9 or 10 game losing streak. They had not scored on Troy Percival, only like 2 runs in his career so it was the ultimate mismatch. Bottom of the ninth, down by a run with a man on and Inge hit a home run to win the game. There weren’t many memorable moments that year, but I came out of my seat on that one. There was so much going wrong and for him to hit that home run it was a very joyous moment in a season that hadn’t had many.

A great moment is a great moment. That team was bad, having a terrible season but then they won 5 of 6 to end the season, they were down 8 runs that Saturday and won 9-8, those were great moments. It’s always good to remember that no matter the record a great moment is still a great moment.

DTW: What do you think of the team’s prospects heading into next year?
DD: That’s a great question, I was having lunch with Dan Petry and another guy from the Tigers and were chewing over a lot of the things that could happen. I don’t like the way the free agent signing period has started. I think everybody has to be taken aback by the prices, or maybe not, maybe Dave [Dombrowski] anticipated the prices for closers. It seems like you have to go to plan B where if you’re going to improve you have to do it through trade.

I still think you can build a bullpen at a relatively low cost, outside of a closer. If you look at the White Sox bullpen last year I think I read it was a $3 million dollar bullpen. The guys they had were good and at a relatively low cost.

You’ve got to shore up the rotation. You have to add a veteran arm, or two. I still think there are options out there like a Matt Morris or Paul Byrd. I don’t know what the Tigers think of those two, but at a relatively low cost, I don’t know what that is anymore, you could sign one of those two. Javier Vazquez name is being floated out there as a potential trade. Carl Pavano also, but I guess not as likely. But I think you need to add the veteran arm to the roation with Verlander coming in.

The bullpen still is a question mark but I think it can be built in a low cost way outside of a closer. I don’t know what they’ll do about closer, but I think it is a high priority. I do think you can acquire a starter or bullpen help in a trade. Obviously with Pena and Young both on the roster, there isn’t room for both in the lineup next year. It seems to me one of those could be possible trade bait if you’re willing to pick up some of Dmitri’s salary, or if a team is interested in Pena.

Pena is the real X factor, I think that is the biggest decision. You watch him hit the last two months and think, “Do I really want to get rid of this kind of left handed power?” On the other side he’s only done it for a couple months the last couple seasons in spurts.

I think Jim Leyland is going to have a major impact on this team. Listening to him in the press conference, he seemed to be really anxious to get back to managing and wipe out the short stint in Colorado. I think he wants to prove he still has the fire, and it sounds like it to me. Everything I’ve read about him from his past in Pittsburgh and Florida is that this is a guy who lets you know where you stand, and what the consequences are if you don’t perform the way he expects. Talking with Dan Petry, you want to play for this guy. You want to do your absolute best. This is a guy who knows how to get it out of you. I don’t know how that translates into in terms of wins, but I think he’ll have a major impact.

I’d like to thank Dan Dickerson for being so generous with his time. Dan will be cohosting the Tiger Town radio show with Dan Petry on WXYT1270. The next two editions will air December 8th and December 14th at 7:00pm.


  1. Lee Panas

    December 5, 2005 at 10:20 am

    I bet there are not a lot of media types who hang around Hardball Times. I thought that was cool.

  2. Ian C.

    December 5, 2005 at 7:13 pm

    I really enjoyed reading what Dickerson does to prepare for the game. Very insightful stuff, especially when Dan admitted it’s not the easiest thing for him to go into the visitors’ clubhouse. I’m sure it’s work, but Dan makes it sound like fun.

  3. Boston Fan in Michigan

    December 6, 2005 at 2:01 am

    His most memorable moment involves Brandon Inge! I’m all, like, victorious and stuff.

  4. Doug

    December 6, 2005 at 9:46 am

    I liked the discussion about the HR calls. I always kinda liked how he gets excited for a HR, even if it’s against the Tigers. If you listen to most radio guys out of town, you can’t even tell that it was gone.

  5. adam

    December 6, 2005 at 10:55 pm

    I love Dan, but Jim Price drives me crazy. He’s always talking about what he just ate, or how things were 30 yrs ago when he played–I don’t care Jim, I want to hear the game, not that the snackbar has strawberry icecream.

  6. IdahoBert

    December 8, 2005 at 11:12 am

    Great interview Bill! he was honest about how frank he can be on the radio and I was glad he didn’t try to make you think there were no boundaries. i didn’t realize he grew up as a Tiger fan. How many people dreamed of being in that booth with Ernie as a kid? What a dream come true.

  7. casimir

    December 9, 2005 at 9:46 am

    Great interview, thanks for sharing. Dan just seems like a quality individual, much like Ernie was quality. I hope we get to enjoy listening to him for a very long time.

  8. Pingback: The Detroit Tiger Weblog » Blog Archive » Interviewing Dan Dickerson - Part I

  9. Jakob

    July 22, 2007 at 5:12 am

    This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title Interviewing Dan Dickerson – Part 2. Thanks for informative article