Uecker will break in eighth radio announcing partner
Joe Block knows he has talent, knows he has experience and, as heaven is his witness, knows this is something he has wanted since he was a kid in Michigan listening to Ernie Harwell call Tigers games.
But he also knows you need something else to land a job as a radio announcer for a major-league baseball team—good luck and good timing.
"There are a lot of people who are qualified to call games at the major-league level, who are very talented and can describe and entertain," Block said. "I have worked with many of them. There are many who I have not worked with. There are many who have worked long, healthy careers and never got that opportunity.
"For anybody, it's always the right place, right time," Block said.
Block, 34, was chosen by the Brewers and WTMJ Radio to replace Cory Provus, who left to join the Minnesota Twins. Block became Bob Uecker's eighth broadcast partner.
"I think my nature is really compatible with Uecker," Block said. "We have gotten along from right off the bat, starting with the first night we had dinner, a 3 1/2-hour dinner. It was awkward for me for about 30 seconds. He made me feel immediately comfortable.
"Unless you are the Dodgers' TV situation, you have a two-man booth, or more," Block said. "I've been passed over on jobs before because I sounded too much like the other guy. I was told one time, ‘We can't even consider you because you sound a lot like the other guy in the booth.' "
No problem there. Block doesn't sound like Uecker, or even Harry Doyle.
"I felt like I belonged," Block said about his dinner with Uecker. "I'm a pretty confident guy as it is, but obviously coming into that situation you could feel very nervous. I think anyone would. Uecker immediately made me feel at ease and he continues to every day. Even when big-time celebrities walk in to talk to him, he always introduces me."
Block's dinner with Mr. Baseball was not an audition. The Brewers were already sold on him. His résumé includes more than 900 baseball game broadcasts, mostly in the minor leagues.
"I felt like Mat Gamel coming into spring training is how I would compare it," Block said. "The job's yours unless something really goes wrong."
Block came to Milwaukee once to interview with the Brewers. He had been part of the hiring process when Provus was chosen to replace Jim Powell. Block was interviewed over the phone in that search, but it ended there.
This time was the charm.
Block, a Michigan State graduate in journalism, said it has always been his aim to be a baseball radio broadcaster.
"I have done a little bit of TV," Block said. "I mean it's fine. I like it. But radio for me in baseball, it's really a craft. Not saying that TV isn't.
"But radio goes back further and it has a romance to it that cannot be duplicated really anywhere," Block said. "The thing in baseball with radio broadcasters is the partnership fans develop with the voice over their springs and summers—washing the car in the driveway, on the way to taking kids to graduation—all these events in their lives where this voice resonates with them.
"It's something that can't be duplicated anywhere—not in any other sport and not in any other medium. It's always been extremely attractive to me. It is a great honor to now say I'm one of those voices."