Cubs announcer Hughes produces ‘Baseball Voices’ CDs

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Ron Santo CD, part of Pat Hughes “Baseball Voices” series

Cubs’ radio play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes turns to production when he’s not on the air this summer, as he begins editing material for “Baseball Voices”, the CD series that he produces honoring baseball announcers inducted into the broadcaster’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Longtime New York Yankees/”This Week in Baseball” voice Mel Allen is his likely next tribute subject, to be recorded in the off-season.

Starting with Harry Caray and St. Louis icon Jack Buck in 2006 and progressing through his longtime WGN booth partner Ron Santo, Hughes chooses announcers who have had an influence on him. He reaches out to vintage baseball tape collectors to cull long-lost clips.

“With the Harry Kalas (Naperville native and longtime Phillies voice) CD, an area collector had an old tape of the Yankees playing the Astros in 1965, likely the first exhibition game ever in the just-opened Astrodome,” Hughes said.  “Harry was doing one inning only. I have him calling Bobby Richardson, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.   I couldn’t believe my luck,” Hughes said.

“A valuable resource is the Hall of Fame audio library, containing all the Hall of Fame induction speeches and highlight tapes of championship seasons. Ball clubs themselves sometimes have recordings. Broadcasters themselves have recordings – (Reds voice) Marty Brennaman gave me his call of Christian Laettner’s NCAA-winning shot against Kentucky.”

Hughes chooses the highlights and interviews, then scripts the package to tie it all together.

Next step is recording in the studios of radio show producers SRN Broadcasting & Marketing of Lake Bluff, which has produced Hughes’entire 12-series CD collection.

“Pat is meticulously prepared for every production,” SRN general manager Steven Leventhal said. “He has the narrative scripted out. He has probably spent a great deal of time selecting every interview and highlight that he plans to use.

“My responsibility is to record the voiceovers and slot in the audio clips. The only give-and-take is his giving me the raw materials, and I take them and construct his masterpieces in a week or less.” 

Praise for Hughes and the series

WGN sportscaster Pat HughesHughes credited St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports-media writer Dan Caesar with helping jump start “Baseball Voices” with a late-2006 column that touted his Caray and Buck CDs.

“The benefit is that it’s hard to imagine anyone doing a better job with these than Pat has done,” Caesar said, “even if these CDs had been issued by a production company that does this kind of work all the time and not a guy whose main job is to broadcast baseball.

“His dedication shows, and that’s what makes them special and brings listeners back to an era when baseball on the radio was an art and some teams’ broadcasters were more popular with fans than most of, if not all, the players.”

Hughes has positioned “Baseball Voices” as a Father’s Day and Christmas gift. CD price is $14.95; order from www.BaseballVoices.com.

George Castle is a Chicago-based sportswriter, author and baseball historian.

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