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Hutton perfect fit for Marlins


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Hutton perfect fit for Marlins

 

The 23-year broadcast veteran who spent 17 years playing professionally joins Len Kasper for 153 games on television this season.

 

BY BARRY JACKSON

 

bjackson@herald.com

 

 

If you analyze the best non-player moves the Marlins have made, the decision to replace Gary Carter with Tommy Hutton as television analyst has to rank near the top.

 

In the past eight years, nobody has spent more live prime-time hours on local television than Hutton, whose keen eye, conversational style, and pleasant delivery have made him as comfortable a listen as any TV analyst who has worked in the market.

 

This season will be particularly special for Hutton, who is entering his 40th year in baseball. Hutton spent 17 years as a player for the Dodgers, Phillies, Blue Jays and Expos, and 23 as a broadcaster for the Expos, Yankees, Blue Jays, ESPN and the Marlins.

 

Hutton was out of baseball only two days before becoming an announcer. He was released by the Expos on a Sunday in 1981, then joined Montreal's broadcast team on a Wednesday.

 

''The meaningful thing is I've been employed in a profession that I love for 40 years,'' said Hutton, who will work 153 Marlins games this year with Len Kasper.

 

``There are a lot of people who know me more as a broadcaster than as a player. I knew I wasn't a superstar player and wouldn't get a free ride.''

 

Born in Los Angeles, Hutton, 57, wrote a note in fourth grade saying he wanted to play for the Dodgers. That became a reality, but only after toiling seven years in the minors.

 

The quality of Hutton's work should have earned him consideration for a job on a major noncable network. But the networks have wanted either the biggest names (Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan) or comic relief (Bob Uecker and Steve Lyons).

 

''There may have been a time earlier in my career'' where not getting that opportunity was frustrating, Hutton said. ``But at this point, no. It goes back to your name recognition and maybe status as a player.''

 

Kasper, beginning his third year with the Marlins, takes the right approach by engaging Hutton in general baseball conversation during games. ''Tommy prepares like a play-by-play announcer,'' Kasper said. ``And he reacts as well as anyone I've heard .''

 

Like McCarver, Hutton prefers to question strategy before knowing the result. ''I think I'm fair,'' Hutton said. ``It was much harder being objective when I first started because all the Expos were guys I played with. It became easier. I don't think I'm a homer.''

 

Hutton offers his highlights as a broadcaster:

 

? Most memorable games he has announced: Pete Rose's 4,000th hit. . . . Don Mattingly hitting home runs eight straight games. . . . Nolan Ryan's seventh no-hitter.

 

? Most animated call: After Mike Mordecai's game-winning homer vs. Los Angeles last year, Hutton yelled 'Morde!' three times. ``My throat hurt for a couple days.''

 

? Most humorous moment: ``One time Dave O'Brien and I had to tape a minute-and-a-half game recap to use later, and for some reason we both got the giggles. He figured if he didn't look at me, I wouldn't laugh. But I saw him in the corner of my eye. It took about 30 minutes to get that done.''

 

? Interactive experience: Yelling at an umpire during a Marlins-Expos game in Puerto Rico last year.

 

? Most unique experience: Interviewing Joel Youngblood after he became the only player in history to get a hit for two different teams on the same day. (He was traded by the Mets to the Expos during a Mets game.)

 

? Partners with whom he has most enjoyed working: Kasper and O'Brien. ``And I really enjoyed Chris Berman even though he isn't a baseball guy. He's passionate about whatever he does.''

 

? Most uncomfortable broadcast partnership: ``There was a guy in Toronto named Brian Williams. He had a guy stand behind him who would feed him stats. If I brought up anything, we couldn't carry on a conversation because he didn't know anything about the game. If I wanted to bring something up, he would throw his hand up to tell me he's not done.''

 

? Players who have been most helpful to him: Mattingly, Pat Borders, Todd Stottlemyre, Jeff Conine, Mike Lowell.

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