That Call Is Outta Here!

 

CLASS OF ’87 | “Is Scott Graham the voice of the Phillies?” a poster asked on a Web forum devoted to Philadelphia’s somewhat-resurgent baseball team. Clearly, the poster knew that J. Scott Graham C’87 was a member of the Phils’ radio broadcast team and had been doing play-by-play since 1999, following an eight-year stint on the pre- and post-game shows. But the reigning voice behind the microphone still belongs to legendary Hall of Fame announcer Harry Kalas, and given the xenophobic nature of Philadelphia baseball fans, the fact that the question of Succession was being raised at all was significant.

“During the Phillies’ most memorable moments this year it has been Graham’s calls that I remember,” the poster explained. Within a few hours, the verdict on that forum was clear, if not unanimous.

“Graham is the obvious heir apparent,” wrote one. “Graham is a very good young announcer,” opined another.

A few weeks later, sitting in the Veterans Stadium broadcast booth before a game, Graham acknowledged that he had seen that thread, but downplayed its significance.

“There have been many people in forums like that over the last couple of years that have not been so complimentary,” he said. “I think a lot of what you’re looking for out of a baseball announcer is some sort of familiarity, and a new voice is almost never a good voice.”

Familiar or not, Graham has a very good voice—a clear, vigorous, well-modulated baritone—and he knows what to do with it.

“Scott’s blessed with the good pipes, and I think he has a great feel for the game,” says Kalas. “I think he is one of the good young broadcasters in baseball. A lot of calling baseball games is preparation, and Scott is always totally prepared.”

Graham has adapted remarkably well to the Summer Game for a guy who cut his teeth on Quaker football and basketball games on WXPN and WQHS-AM, broadcast football for Delaware State and Big Five basketball on WPHT-AM, has done play-by-play for all sports on Comcast Network, and has broadcast NFL and college games on Fox Sports. Some of that may have to do with the fact that when he was a boy in Clark, New Jersey, he would stand in his backyard tossing up a ball and hitting it—and “broadcasting” the results. Though his love for the game is palpable, Graham describes his baseball broadcasting as a “work in progress.”

“Baseball has a different pace, a different style—it’s a different game, and it’s given to many more long, thoughtful pauses, much more story-time, because it’s radio. There’s almost a melody to it when it’s done right, and I’ve listened to a lot of people who do it the right way.

“I’m not there yet,” he adds, “and as I get more comfortable I’m hoping it comes, but the whole very quick delivery—the whole ebb-and-flow dramatic delivery of a football game or the rata-tat-tat of a basketball game—doesn’t work in this sport.”

In 1988, a year after he graduated from Penn, Graham was working as a reporter for WAMS-AM in Wilmington when somebody asked him what he’d like to be doing in a perfect world. At the time, he just hoped he’d be on some Philadelphia radio station by the time he was 25, then still three years away. As it turned out, he was there two months later.

“My perfect world has so far exceeded my expectations, that to put it on a blackboard as to what would be perfect is silly,” he says. “Every once in a while, you kind of look at yourself, and say, ‘You know, here I am, a kid from Clark, New Jersey, who threw the ball up in his backyard, broadcasting Major League Baseball’—whatever ends up coming of that is terrific. Not a bad day job.” —S.H.


2003 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 09/02/03

ALUMNI : Profiles : Events : Notes : Obituaries

Mosaics master Jonathan Mandell

Sports broadcaster Scott Graham

Award winner Elsie Sterling Howard

“Out” actor Robert Gant

“Fairy Godmother” Helen Rosenau





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