Sports Talkers Podcast: Renée Paquette, The Volume
He is one of the most versatile play-by-play announcers around. Sean McDonough has worked professionally since 1982. He was the play-by-play announcer for the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League and hasn’t stopped since. McDonough apparently called every sport imaginable. Last year, he returned to an NHL newsstand, where he was named lead broadcaster for ESPN’s hockey coverage. He is preparing for the second year.
A native of Boston, McDonough graduated with honors from Syracuse University in 1984 with a degree in broadcast journalism. In May 2007, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Southern Vermont College in recognition of his career, community service, and personal accomplishments. He was also the first speaker at the graduation ceremony.
McDonough was inducted into the Hall of Fame for WAER in 2014, the non-commercial radio station at Syracuse University where he began his career in sports broadcasting as a student. The Sports Media Center at Syracuse’s SI Newhouse School of Public Communications also awarded McDonough the Marty Glickman Award in 2016. He received Syracuse’s highest alumni honor, “The George Arents Award,” the highest 2019 Syracuse University Alumni Honor. McDonough was selected for induction into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Quite a resume.
ROAD TO ESPN/NHL
In 1988, McDonough began broadcasting Boston Red Sox games on television. He teamed up there with the late Jerry Remy. McDonough remained with the Red Sox through the 2004 season and was not brought back. He was replaced by Don Orsillo. McDonough blamed his dismissal on his salary and his franchise regarding the team. Interestingly enough, he would return to the Red Sox in 2019, doing 30 odd games as a part-time radio play-by-play announcer.
Along with his work with the Red Sox, McDonough worked various assignments for CBS Sports beginning in 1990. At CBS he called college basketball, working 10 NCAA tournaments, college football, NFL, US Open Tennis, the Winter Olympics and contributed Masters Coverage.
In 1992, he took over as the lead voice for CBS’ Major League Baseball television broadcasts. He was just 30 and became the youngest to call a World Series national broadcast. Curiously, this record will be beaten 4 years later by Joe Buck, who will replace McDonough in the pit.
During baseball coverage, McDonough had several memorable calls. Perhaps the most famous was in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS between the Atlanta Braves and the Pittsburgh Pirates. When Atlanta’s Francisco Cabrera came up with the game-winning shot.
‘Line-drive and base-hit! Justice scored the tying point, Bream on the plate…and he’s SAFE! Safe on the plate! The Braves go to the World Series! The most unlikely hero wins the National League Championship Series for the Atlanta Braves. Francisco Cabrera, who had only ten major league at-bats during the regular season, scored from the left side, scoring Sid Bream from second base with the game-winning run. Bream, who has had five knee surgeries in his life, is coming off the tag of ex-teammate Mike LaValliere and Atlanta exits Game 7 with three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. This place is chaotic. There will be no second nightmare for Bobby Cox. Final score in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series: The Braves 3 and the Pirates 2.’
He also called the ensuing 1992 World Series final game, in which the Blue Jays became the first non-American team to win the Major League Baseball World Championship:
“Nixon’s bunts! Timlin on it! Pitches at first . . . For the first time in history, the World Championship banner will fly north of the border! The Toronto Blue Jays are the best in baseball in 1992!
A year later, McDonough called Joe Carter’s dramatic 1993 World Series-ending home run against Mitch Williams of the Phillies:
“Good hit on the left field line! Way back and GONE! Joe Carter with a three-run homer! The winners and still world champions, Toronto Blue Jays!
Since 2000, McDonough has worked for ESPN/ABC, again working on just about every sport the network has broadcast rights to. College Hoops, College Football, US Open Golf, British Open Golf, Monday Night Football and now the NHL on ESPN/ABC. Before last year, McDonough hadn’t canceled an NHL game since 2004.
BACK ON THE ICE
McDonough grew up a hockey fan and relished his role as a play-by-play announcer the first time ESPN got the NHL contract. He goes way back in the sport and really seemed to miss it when he wasn’t calling hockey.
“That was really the first thing I did when I got out of Syracuse University and started at NESN (New England Sports Network). My first assignment was college hockey and I did a lot of NHL back then. I was hoping we would get him back. he recently said Athleticism. “I’ve told this story before, but I was in the stands at TD Garden in 2019 watching the Bruins take on the Blues in Game 7. I looked at where Mike Emrick was and said to my buddies: ‘Boy, it would be great to do that one day.’ The atmosphere is just amazing. »
McDonough had to reacclimate to the game itself, which was not the same he had covered before. “One of the things that immediately struck me is that the game is much faster than it was 17 or 18 years ago, which was the last time I played in the NHL,” McDonough said. Athleticism. “Before, you could look down and look for a note or if you weren’t quite sure of a player’s number, you could look down and the guy was probably still dragging the puck through the neutral zone. You don’t have time to do all that now. If you don’t show up to the game with all the names and numbers completely memorized and you have to look down, you’re in trouble because the puck is going to go somewhere else very quickly, and it may end up in the net while you’re looking down. the bottom. I appreciate how good hockey broadcasters are because it’s not easy.
McDonough worked on it and reviewed some games to see how he could interact more with Ray Ferraro, especially when the latter was at ice level and the former at the top of the stadium. He and Ferraro developed great chemistry over the season and they were hitting all the cylinders in the playoffs and the Stanley Cup Finals.
WHY IS IT SO GOOD?
McDonough is a prominent advertiser. He has certainly carved out a place for himself with a style that, for me, belongs only to him. There’s something about his cadence and delivery that sets him apart. He has a distinctive voice that lends itself to big matches. McDonough is unique, in a good way, in the way he presents big game moments. It’s hard to put into words how it goes from description to excitement without missing a beat. It’s different but it works and it’s been a long time.
Versatility is a word that’s been around a lot in the broadcasting industry. There are very few advertisers around who called Monday night football, the World Series and the Stanley Cup Final. Think of all the standout moments he had the pleasure of calling. Also think about how many of these moments have happened in different sports and stages.
It’s a tribute to a presenter who has risen to the occasion of many great events. McDonough doesn’t get the notoriety he perhaps deserves. Whether his opinion-making style sometimes hurt him or not, there’s no denying that he’s among the best to ever do what he does.