HomeTrending MLB NewsMLB Network Strikes Out on Coverage of Aaron Anniversary

MLB Network Strikes Out on Coverage of Aaron Anniversary


That’s the only polite word I can use to describe MLB Network’s two-hour coverage of the Hank Aaron golden anniversary celebration Monday.

Aside from the charming interview of Billye Aaron by her granddaughter Emily Haydel and brief chats with Dusty Baker and Tom House – both participants in the events of April 8, 1974 – the show had more errors than the Mets-Braves game that followed.

It just seemed like the announcing team of Greg Amsinger and Harold Reynolds were poorly prepared. Both made multiple miscues.

Reynolds, for example, said Aaron scored more runs than any other player.

Not true: although Aaron is the career leader in runs batted in, he resides in a fourth-place tie with Babe Ruth at 2,174 runs scored. Ahead of them are Rickey Henderson (2,295), Ty Cobb (2,245), and Barry Bonds (2,227).

Then he said Aaron once made 52 errors in a season as a minor-league infielder. Actually, Aaron never made more than 36. It’s easy to find that stat.

As for Amsinger, he said Aaron played the first two games of the 1974 Cincinnati series that opened the 1974 season for the Braves. Actually, he played in the first and third games but not the middle one as manager Eddie Mathews was reluctant to see the star break Ruth’s record on the road – a factor that caused Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to threaten the manager and the ballclub.

Amsinger actually began the broadcast by incorrectly introducing Baker as an employee of the Braves – just weeks after the former manager, who lives in California, had been hired by the Giants. At least someone from the network had him correct the mistake on the air.

That didn’t happen with Reynolds, who was a fine second baseman and base-stealer as a player and is the best-dressed announcer on the planet. But his habit of broadcasting false information, not to mention emitting loud whistles during broadcasts, are both annoying and unprofessional.

His command of the English language could be better too: he confused the word “jubilation” with “jubilism,” a figment of his imagination.

Although he used to be the biggest home run hitter of anyone with the initials HR – before Hanley Ramirez usurped the title – Reynolds needs a refresher course in baseball history.

Years ago, when I auditioned for a job on MLB Network, he was one of the staff announcers who interviewed me on a subject of my own choosing: the designated hitter [I am the co-author of Designated Hebrew, the autobiography of first DH Ron Blomberg].

When I made a comment that Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, and Ted Williams might not have been discovered if the DH had existed when they played, Reynolds reacted immediately.

“Ted Williams began as a pitcher?” he asked, with an obvious level of incredulity.           

Had Reynolds read or remembered the autobiographical Williams book My Life in Pictures, he would have known: there was a full-page picture of the teenaged Ted pitching high school ball in his native San Diego. In fact, he once struck out 17 men in a game.

Needless to say, I didn’t win the job, although New York baseball writers Joel Sherman of The New York Post and Jon Heyman, then with Newsday, did. We all interviewed on the same day.

I’m not shocked that Reynolds has bounced around a bit, not establishing deep roots at ESPN or FOX. But I am surprised he’s hung on like grim death at MLB Network.

They can do better.

Their show could have been better too. Before Amsinger signed off, he assured his audience that the team-planned salute to Aaron would be shown by “our friends at Bally Sports” right after a commercial break.

It never was, leaving no smooth ending to the two-hour special. Viewers felt like a rug had been pulled out from beneath their feet.

They missed a pre-game ceremony that featured 715 Braves A-list members spread across the outfield with numbers representing each of Aaron’s home runs. They missed seeing Billye, Baker, Ralph Garr, and other former 1974 Braves gathered around home plate. And they missed the scoreboard video tribute, the declaration of Henry Aaron Day by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, and the on-deck circle graphic honoring Aaron.

Had they watched the actual game that followed, they might have seen the large No. 715 carved into the center-field grass. Or noticed the blue-and-white, 1974-style uniforms the Braves wore to mark Aaron’s golden anniversary.

Fans left holding the bag won’t be able to get those two hours back. But they will be able to peruse the enormous and well-curated exhibit of Aaron memorabilia – much of it from Billye’s personal collection – at the Atlanta History Center in upscale Buckhead.

Opened April 9, it will last through the 2025 All-Star Game, scheduled for Truist Park, and all of next season.

Dan Schlossberg, Senior Writer
Dan Schlossberg, Senior Writerhttps://mlbreport.com/
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ is a national baseball writer for forbes.com; weekend editor of the Here’s The Pitch newsletter; columnist for Sports Collectors Digest; and contributor to USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Memories & Dreams, and many other outlets. He’s also the author of more than 40 books. His email is ballauthor@gmail.com.


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