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Sciambi named Cubs TV play-by-play voice

@MLBastian
January 4, 2021

CHICAGO -- When Len Kasper made the surprising decision to leave the Cubs' television booth last month, the team pledged to bring in a play-by-play voice worthy of its fans' high expectations. The Cubs found their man in ESPN broadcaster Jon "Boog" Sciambi, who will join analyst Jim Deshaies to

CHICAGO -- When Len Kasper made the surprising decision to leave the Cubs' television booth last month, the team pledged to bring in a play-by-play voice worthy of its fans' high expectations.

The Cubs found their man in ESPN broadcaster Jon "Boog" Sciambi, who will join analyst Jim Deshaies to form Chicago's new broadcast team for Marquee Sports Network. Sciambi comes to the North Siders via ESPN, where he has continued to cement his place as one of the more popular voices in baseball.

"I want to be where baseball matters," Sciambi said on a Zoom call Monday afternoon. "And baseball matters on the North Side of Chicago. Look, this job is special. That's really what it comes down to."

Following 16 seasons as part of the Cubs' TV team, Kasper left for the South Side in early December to become the new radio voice of the White Sox for ESPN 1000. That news came as a collective shock for the Cubs' fanbase, and the leadership at Marquee promised to take its time in finding a replacement for one of the "real pearl positions" in broadcasting.

Sciambi -- a friend of Kasper's going on two decades -- knew the former Cubs TV voice always wanted to move into a radio booth, and said Kasper made a "pure" decision. Even with that understanding of Kasper's career aspirations, and the conversations they'd shared over the years, Sciambi was still a bit stunned when Kasper officially switched roles in December.

"It's always been Len's job," Sciambi said. "I've always just thought of it as Len's job. And then it wasn't, and I don't think that I immediately processed that it could be my job."

Marquee Sports Network general manager Mike McCarthy said Sciambi was the top target once the TV booth had a vacancy.

"After Len's departure became known, we had quite a bit of interest in this position from all points," McCarthy said. "To be perfectly blunt and honest, we had one guy really in mind that we were hopeful of, and this is the guy that we now have the proud opportunity to announce as our new play-by-play man. We had no doubts about him."

Sciambi, who will remain a multiplatform broadcaster for ESPN, joins the fold after serving a variety of roles for ESPN dating back to 2005. He has served as the voice of Sunday Night Baseball for MLB on ESPN Radio and as the regular play-by-play voice for Wednesday Night Baseball telecasts on the network for the past six years.

Prior to moving to ESPN, Sciambi was the Braves' lead TV play-by-play voice from 2007-09 and the radio voice of the Marlins from 1997-2004. While at ESPN, he has also contributed to ESPN Radio's World Series coverage, and he has performed play-by-play duties for both the College and Little League World Series.

During his days in Atlanta's booth, current Cubs manager David Ross was a catcher for the Braves. They also spent time in the booth together during Ross' stint with ESPN prior to taking the managerial reins for the Cubs. While on the Zoom call, Sciambi smirked as he noted that Ross had sent him a text with a few bullet points to mention.

"I have some notes that he sent me, 'Make sure you get these in: I missed him. He's the best,'" Sciambi said.

Sciambi then shared the story of a time Ross and former Cubs pitcher (and ESPN broadcaster) Rick Sutcliffe pranked the play-by-play man on air. Sciambi had mentioned to Ross that he should bring one of his old catching wristbands to the booth, giving him a chance to show fans the type of information a catcher uses during a game.

"I said, 'Well show them. Turn and hold it up and show the camera,'" Sciambi said with a smile. "And he lifts it up and, on the wristband where all the information is supposed to be, it says, 'Less Boog, more Sut and Rossy.'

"I'm looking forward to being around him all the time, because he likes to play and he's serious."

That is also how Sciambi summed up his style as a broadcaster. He takes the job serious and strives to have fun, and tries to be the same person on air who fans would encounter outside the ballpark. That is some of what drew the Marquee decision-makers to Sciambi.

"He is a lover of our game, as everyone knows," Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said. "He is an analyst of the game as well. He can go deep with the sabermetrics community, as far as they want to go, but he appreciates the unique place that the Cubs and Wrigley Field have in our game. He's humble. Understands why this game is so important."

Sciambi also knows the importance of having his name follow the likes of Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray and, most recently, Kasper.

"I don't take it lightly, the position that I'm being put in," he said. "I know how much this team, this job means to the fans."

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.