When it comes to spring, his voice is as synonymous as the first sighting of a robin.
Dick Bremer has been calling Minnesota Twins baseball games since 1983 and while he does a lot of talking, it's rarely about him. So here's a little insight into the Staples High School graduate and former Cardinal baseball player that should get you even more excited for a great Twins season.
Q: Another opening day has come and gone. What are those days like? Are they still as exciting after all of these years?
DB: Opening days are always exciting. I'm unlike most baseball announcers, I think, in that I'm ready for opening day to arrive by Thanksgiving. The off-seasons seem to drag on and on. By the time opening day does arrive, I seem to be more excited with each passing year. There's a restlessness the night before. I can only imagine what it must be like for a player. Once at the ballpark, there's controlled chaos with all the distractions that surround opening day. Usually, I've found that after the first pitch, it's best to try to treat the game like the 161 games that will follow.
Q: You and Bert Blyleven have been working together for quite some time now. Talk to me about that chemistry and the give-and-take you, and the viewers, enjoy?
DB: It was apparent that, from the outset, Bert and his personality would resonate with Twins fans. During his playing career, he earned the reputation as being fun-loving and unpredictable. He's carried that reputation with him to the broadcast booth. The biggest challenge baseball broadcasters have, in my mind, is trying to make Wednesday's broadcast different than Tuesday's broadcast. That's easy to do when you work with someone whose attitude is that a baseball game is supposed to be fun for everyone involved in it. It's been a joy to work with him all these years.
Q: I'm not sure if you're allowed to comment on this or not, but some have picked the Twins to be at or near the top of the division. Others don't have that much faith. Where do you see this team come September?
DB: I'm always optimistic about the upcoming season, but especially this year. A lot of attention has been given to the new Twins like Nelson Cruz and Jonathan Schoop. I still believe in the young core of this team. Players like Berrios, Buxton, Rosario and Kepler are all approaching their athletic primes. If they can stay healthy, I truly believe that the short-term future for the Twins will be brilliant. At some point soon, someone is going to supplant Cleveland as the champions of the American League Central. I won't be surprised if that team is the Minnesota Twins and I won't be surprised if it happens in 2019.
Q: What are a few of the more bizarre things you've seen from your booth during Twins games.
DB: I saw Dave Kingman's pop-up go up and not come down when it went through a ventilation hole in the ceiling of the Metrodome. I saw the fans evacuate the Dome when the roof started collapsing in the middle of a game. Since the Metrodome was the most bizarre "ballpark" I've ever been in, it's fitting that most of the bizarre things I've seen occurred there.
On the road, about five years ago, an afternoon lightning strike in Texas sent everyone scrambling in the middle of the game. I concluded that if I didn't swear on live television when that happened, I probably never would.
Q: If you weren't doing Twins games, what sport, what team would be your second dream job?
DB: I really enjoyed doing Gopher and Big Ten basketball and thought that schedule dovetailed beautifully with the baseball schedule. While it would be nice to have summers off and work a winter sport, I can't imagine doing anything other than Twins baseball. I followed the team as a little boy and never imagined that someone would pay me to go to their games. Shhhh! Don't tell anyone.
Q: How long of a list of taking points to you bring into each game in case it's a blowout and you need to fill time?
DB: Prepping for a broadcast has certainly changed during my career with the Twins. Thanks to the internet, broadcasters and viewers have access to so much more information than when I started in 1983. The challenge becomes trying to determine what in the flood of stats and information available is going to be most interesting to the viewers. Armed with an abundance of notes and anecdotes, you have to let the game dictate what you use and when. It is, after all, a live sporting event and should be treated as such. Spontaneity has to trump preparation.
Q: One of the things my predecessor and your old friend Mike Bialka disliked about the major league game was the pace of play. MLB has tried different things to speed up play the past few years. Are those things working and what else can be done to get the game going? Or is the pace just fine and Mr. Bialka needs to enjoy retirement and quit being in such a rush?
DB: First of all, Mike deserves to enjoy a happy retirement. I've known him since our days together at St. Cloud State and have greatly admired his career.
As a society, our attention spans seem to be getting shorter, so I applaud MLB's attempts to improve the pace of play. No one's seriously considered my solution. I think an invisible fence should be laid under the batter's boxes and every hitter should be required to wear a collar when it's his turn to hit. That alone should trim 15 minutes from each game. Also, players have adopted walk-up music before their at bats featuring their favorite song. I'm proposing that they also play their least favorite songs after a strikeout. Maybe that would curb the increasing number of strikeouts.
Q: Everybody wants to compare today's athletes with former athletes, but what if we were to compare play-by-play guys. Who would Dick Bremer be compared to? Who do you try to emulate if anyone?
DB: I was blessed to grow up and develop my love for sports by listening to some of the best play-by-play guys ever on the air. Men like Herb Carneal, Ray Scott, Ray Christenson, Al Shaver and Jack Buck all had one thing in common. They had wearability that allowed them to have long careers in one market without ever growing stale to the audience.
I tell aspiring play-by-play announcers that you have to be yourself and genuinely love what you do. That has always been very easy for me. I always admired Dick Enberg because whether it was baseball, football or tennis, he was always well-prepared and gave the viewer the impression that there wasn't anywhere in the world he'd rather be than in the booth that particular day.
Q: You began covering the Twins in 1983, you've seen a lot of players come and go, who are some of the guys you remember the most? Maybe they were charismatic away from the game, maybe you enjoyed how they played.
DB: The players on the team when I started back in 1983 were contemporaries of mine. Naturally, it was easy to develop friendships with them and some of those friendships are still going strong long after they retired. Kent Hrbek and I have become pretty good friends because we have a lot of the same interests, baseball, hunting and fishing. If only I could have hit or thrown a baseball, we could have been teammates.
Q: A few years back, I had dinner with Dan Gladden and his wife at Madden's Resort. I asked him if he thought he could fit in today's MLB and he said no. He said the best thing about the World Series Twins teams was how everyone in the locker room got along and played for each other. He said he doesn't see that very much in today's MLB. What are your thoughts?
DB: I think winning creates bonds that last a lifetime. I suspect that if this group of Twins wins a World Series, 40 years from now, Max Kepler will consider Byron Buxton to be like a brother. To Gladden's point, it's becoming much rarer to see a player play his entire career with one team. Back in those days, Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek spend their entire playing career in a Twins uniform, and won two World Championships. Regardless of market size, that doesn't happen very often.
Q: Who is the one player that if you had to buy a ticket you would buy a ticket to watch play baseball?
DB: The easy answer is Kirby Puckett. Beyond what he did on the field, he made sure everyone around him enjoyed their time at the ballpark. It is, after all, a game and should be a fun experience. Among contemporary ballplayers, Byron Buxton is the most distracting player for an announcer the Twins have had in a long time. We're supposed to follow the ball, but when Buxton hits one down the line, I find myself watching him run rather than following the bouncing ball. It's one of the reasons, he's the key to any success the Twins have in the next few years.
Q: Last year, you entertained Jerry Riewer during a Twins broadcast. Riewer was your high school baseball coach in Staples. What were some life lessons he taught you back then.
DB: Jerry Riewer was not only my baseball coach, but also my driver's education instructor. I'm not sure which role put him in the most stressful situations. I remember being at 3rd base when he accidentally gave the steal sign. I must have blinked three times in disbelief. Nevertheless, as the pitcher started his windup, I took off for home. Thankfully, the pitch went to the backstop and I was credited with a steal of home. He was a great coach and it was my great pleasure to introduce him when he was inducted into the Minnesota Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Q: What kind of a baseball player were you? A switch-hitting power hitter, a fleet-of-foot leadoff man or a dominant presence on the mound?
DB: My baseball career was mired in mediocrity. I was probably a better pitcher than hitter and tried to make the St. Cloud State baseball team my freshman year. I got cut before the team's first practice which I believe is still an NCAA record.
Q: What are some of your fonder memories of Staples and who are the names attached to those memories?
DB: When we moved there during my freshman year, I was thrilled when I found out they had a high school baseball team. We moved from Fulton, Missouri, where they didn't have high school baseball.
I was invited to join the team on their bus trip to Stillwater the day after I enrolled and got to play in a B-squad game before I ever went to a class at Staples High School. I'm not sure it was legal, but I did it anyway.
I had a terrible experience in Brainerd my senior year. I got hit in my left eye by a pitch during batting practice and temporarily lost vision in that eye. I spent five days immobilized with patches on both eyes at St. Joseph's hospital. Thankfully, my vision came back, but that was the end of my high school baseball career.
Q: If Duke in the Dark was still spinning the black circles at KCLD in St. Cloud what would the music playlist sound like now a days?
DB: Being a disc jockey in the mid-'70s meant that I had to play a lot of Bee Gees and Barry Manilow. One of the reasons I left KCLD was I didn't want to play music for a living, especially the popular music of the time. I'd probably want to play the good stuff from that era, the Stones, Chicago and the like. If there's an oldies station in your area that's looking for some wintertime help, have them give me a call.
Q: What would be your walk up music and, in your opinion, who has the most original walkup music in the MLB right now?
DB: I really don't pay much attention to walk-up music and can't imagine what mine would be. Based on my experience trying to play in my 60s at the Twins Fantasy Camp, maybe Linda Ronstadt's "Hurts So Bad." Whenever I decide to retire, I'd like to have a walk-off song, probably Boston's "Long Time."
The lyrics seem to fit what has been a blessed career.