PN Interview

The PN Interview: Scott Franzke

You have to appreciate Scott Franzke. If you listen to the Phillies via radio, you get a healthy dose of the young Texan as he calls games, normally, with Larry Andersen. His smooth but authoritative voice has given life to Phillies broadcasts since his arrival in 2006. One of his best calls: The Matt Stairs home run in game four of the National League Championship Series. With a rabid Andersen chuckling at the ball’s flight, Franzke put his best call down, describing the shot as it flew “into the night sky.”

Franzke took some time recently to answer our questions. Here is the interview.

You’re a Dallas guy and a Cowboys fan growing up. I’d completely understand if you weren’t a Cowboy fan now, but seeing as you might still be a Cowboys fan, have you gone out of your way to hide your fandom while in Philadelphia?

Wow, going right for the throat. Just kidding … I am being completely honest here, but I really don’t watch too much football these days. I really lost touch with the Cowboys once I started moving around to work in baseball; and once Jerry Jones started running through coaches like Switzer and Chan Gailey. I spend so much time away from home because of baseball that you’re not going to see me spend too many Sunday afternoons on a couch watching football during our offseason. I might be on the couch watching TV, just not football.

As a city, how does Philadelphia rate? What’s your favorite part of the city?

I’ve worked here now for three seasons, but I’ve really only been in the city (in our own house, etc.) about 18 months, so there is still so much for us to discover. But right now, we love it. Sixers announcer Marc Zumoff called me after I got the job in ’06 and called Philly “the biggest small town you’ll ever live in,” and I think he’s right on the money with that characterization. Everyone knows everyone, it seems. And that small-town feel is something to treasure about Philly.

As for my favorite part of the city; we love taking the dogs to Fairmount Park, but how could I not say my favorite place in town is my seat at Citizens Bank Park.

How is announcing different in Philadelphia than in Dallas?

Well, the announcing itself is no different. Its the same job I had in Geneva, Ill., as a minor leaguer. Hopefully I can do it (at least a little) better by now. But in terms of the scrutiny we receive, both positive and negative, it is a very different world. Also, its a very different situation in terms of interacting with people around town (or in Clearwater or wherever). I’m consistently humbled by the devotion of Phillies fans.

Obviously you had some good company in Dallas with Tom Grieve, etc. But here in Philly you get to learn under Harry Kalas, among others. Any lessons you’ve learned from Harry or anyone else?

I never seen Harry turn down a fan, be it a picture, an autograph, or just shaking hands. It can be very time consuming for him; and this is a man who is enshrined in the the Hall of Fame. That kind of grace is a constant reminder for me: the reason we have this job is because there are fans out there who care. Doesn’t matter if you are a broadcaster, a player or a club executive; we should always remember that.

Any lessons you’ve learned from LA (good or otherwise)?

I think he’s given me a tremendous insight into the city and the people here. He’s adopted Philadelphia as his home too, and he’s got a keen understanding of what our fans want in a team, a broadcaster or whatever. Maybe he knows this from spending so much time on barstools talking to people.

Which leads to the other lesson he’s provided: I can’t outlast him on a barstool.

On that note, was it easy to establish a banter with Andersen? He always seems to bring out the best (or the morality) in his play-by-play men.

Incredibly easy. We have a similar sense of humor and a similar approach to calling a game. We became fast friends off the air, and I hope we capture some of that for our listeners on the air, too.

Is there a certain style you’ve attempted to define as an announcer? Or do you speak as if you’re speaking? What’s the method?

I think every announcer is a product of what they grew up listening to. For instance, I am sure there are various elements of the different Rangers announcers I listened to over the years in my call. I didn’t spend too much time over-analyzing it. You do so many minor league games, and much like a player, it is all about repetition. So often, you’re just trying to get the mechanics right (pitch, count, score, descriptions, etc). Before baseball, I used to work in talk radio. I was taught that you have to be yourself on the air. So I try be the same guy on the air that I am off the air. Not sure if I’m successful with that or not, but I try.

What’s the best venue to call a game? And worst?

The best might just be our park. I’m very comfortable there. We have good sightlines, we’re not too far from the plate and there’s plenty of room and amenities for us in the press box. I also love doing games at San Francisco and Dodger Stadium. Fenway was neat to work in, but we haven’t been there in a few years.

As for the worst, Wrigley has some tough working conditions. We’re miles from the action in Nationals Park and Pittsburgh. And thank goodness that Shea is gone. That was miserable.

Don’t get me wrong, I think I can find something I really like about all of those places, too; and I’m certainly not speaking from a fans perspective. How could a baseball fan not want to spend a day at Wrigley?
You’ve called the Olympics. You’ve also seen the John Rocker era in Texas. But seriously, what’s your favorite call of your career?

I wouldn’t say I “called” the Olympics, but rather “covered” them. John Rocker? That wasn’t too much fun, leave it at that. I don’t think I’ve called a bigger home run than Matt Stairs’ NLCS bomb in LA. Its hard to narrow it down, but rest assured most came from last October. Two exceptions to that would have to be the ’07 division clincher (Myers striking out Pena) and completing the four-game sweep of the Mets with the ninth-inning comeback in late August ’07.

With the Rangers you saw a young team with a young, dynamic offense and suspect pitching. When you joined the Phillies, it was the same thing. When did you become aware this team could break the mold and become a championship club?

When I saw Cole Hamels pitch. Seriously. Having a guy like that changes everything. There were plenty of offensive similarities to the teams I saw in Texas, but they never had anything close to a Cole Hamels while I was there.

We all love Harry, but we know soon enough he’ll hang up the plaid suit. Humility aside, can you see yourself as the play-by-play TV voice of the Phillies once that happens?

I won’t say “never” to anything. But it is truly not something I think about. I’m a radio guy at heart. I’m not sure I would be any good at doing television, quite frankly. I also like to dress down, be a little more casual at the park. Just ask my boss. 🙂

What’s your favorite beer? Any recommendations?

I’m not a big beer drinker. Try a Texas brew for me: Shiner Bock.

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