Q&A: Krukow talks playing days, broadcasting

Former pitcher played seven seasons for Giants from 1983-89

May 20th, 2017

Former Major League pitcher Mike Krukow has found joy in his post-playing career, teaming with another former big leaguer, Duane Kuiper, on the Giants' broadcast team. They are among the elite broadcasting duos in the game, but in recent years, Krukow has cut back on his workload.

It's not by choice. It's out of necessity, as Krukow has inclusion body myositis, a slow-developing weakness and wasting of the muscles most apparent in the arms and legs. It has led to his decision to limit his broadcasting to the Giants' home games and contests against National League West teams. But it has not impacted the passion Krukow has for the game.

Krukow was drafted by the Cubs in the eighth round of the 1973 Draft. He pitched six seasons for the Cubs and one for the Phillies, before finishing his career with a seven-year stint with the Giants (1983-89), winning 20 games in 1986 and helping to lead the franchise's resurgence.

After Krukow retired, he joined the Giants' broadcast team. He talked about his physical challenges and the joy of baseball in this week's Q&A:

MLB.com: How has inclusion body myositis impacted your life?

Krukow: I don't have any strength in my legs or my arms, so it's hard to get up out of a chair. It's hard to walk downhill. It's hard to walk. I can't walk down the dugout in a lot of ballparks. You restrict where you can go, which it kind of cramps my style. It's a big deal going into clubhouses and talking to people and coaches and managers. A lot of the time, I can't do it because of this thing, but fortunately, I'm in a business that I just have to sit down and talk. (Former Oakland Raiders owner) Al Davis had this, and he mastered it pretty well. In the end, it was pretty ugly, but it lasted 10 years, which is kind of rough. They don't know how you get it. There's no treatment for it. There's nothing you can take for it. There's a great deal of discomfort at night with cramps and aches.

MLB.com: How long have you dealt with it?

Krukow: I've had this for 12 years. It's to the point now where it's debilitating. I mean, I can't go to Wrigley Field. It's really hard for me to go to Dodger Stadium, but my schedule now is 120 games, and that includes all home games in the National League West. I don't go back east. Back east is just a battery of cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks. It's just not easy for me

MLB.com: A key for you, though, is that you are able to be a part of the game from the broadcast booth?

Krukow: The older we get, the more we need this game. The game doesn't need us. In the last year, I was at a crossroads. I've been listening to Marty Brennaman and Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling saying, "What, why the hell are you insisting on working this many games? You cut it back. If you cut it back, you'll work longer. You'll be able to do it for five or six or however many more years you can." That's what I had to do, and the Giants have been great, saying, "We'll take what you can give us."

MLB.com: Listening to you and Duane Kuiper, it seems you are having fun, just talking about the game.

Krukow: He's my best friend. We've been around each other since 1983. I'm pretty lucky. I was a pitcher. He was an infielder. I don't have to know everything about everything. I think that's the tough part of being a broadcaster, when you have to provide the whole picture. If there's something about hitting or a play at second base or in the outfield, what do I know about that? I can ask Kuip. It allows us to be conversational, and I think it worked out for us.

MLB.com: Did you know each other pretty well before you began broadcasting?

Krukow: I didn't like him as an opponent. ... Well, when I got to San Francisco, and we were teammates, I realized he was a good player and even better in the clubhouse. I was a starting pitcher, and by that time, he had some problems with his legs, he was a part-time player, so we would spend a lot of time on the bench during the game talking about the game. It just became a friendship. After he retired, he went right into the booth. I got to play for several years longer and retired in 1990. That's when Joe Morgan was starting to do ESPN Sunday nights. He would leave [from his broadcast duties with the Giants] on Saturdays to get to the ESPN game on Sunday, and they asked me to do those games.

MLB.com: So you just grew into the job?

Krukow: I did 15 games the first year. I didn't know a thing about broadcasting. I didn't think I was going to be able to do it all. I wound up being the luckiest guy ever to have a second career in the game. To work every day with your best friend and talk big league ball, crazy.

MLB.com: So it wasn't your career plan to move from the field to the booth?

Krukow: Oh, my God, when I retired after 1989, (then Giants manager) Roger Craig offered me a pitching-coach job. I had to turn it down, because my wife just had our fifth child and they were all in diapers and I needed to be home. The transition back to the game in broadcasting was 15 games a season at first, then 40 games, then 70 games and then all of the games. But by then, the kids were out of diapers and were all in school. It got a little bit easier.

MLB.com: You had a pretty good career on the field, too. What particular highlights stick out from that career?

Krukow: The highlights for any career is when you win. I love Chicago. Chicago is where I learned how to be a big leaguer. For the five [full] years I was there, we were below .500 four years. There wasn't much of a team there in '81. If there wasn't a strike in '81, we would have lost probably 120 games. During 1982, they brought in Dallas Green (to be general manager), and then the Tribune Company bought the team, and everything turned around. My career highlights didn't really start until we started winning, and that happened in 1982 (with the Phillies). I was only there for that one year; it was exhilarating, so much fun because you won.

MLB.com: Then, after a year in Philadelphia, you wind up with the Giants.

Krukow: We lost 100 games in 1985, the only time in Giants history they had a 100-loss season. Then, Roger Craig and (GM Al) Rosen came in and things turned around. What I'm most proud of was being part of the team that brought pride back to the Bay Area for the Giants in 1986. They brought us back last year, the whole team from 1986. They brought us back and honored us. We're a freaking third-place team. To be remembered by a city, because we turned things around after the 100-loss season, that's pretty remarkable. It tells you a lot of what our fan base is all about, our organization is all about. Then, in 1987, we were in the playoffs. That's what I am proud of, being part of that turnaround. That was fun. Winning and being part of something that people will remember, that's the thing that you want to be as a player. You just want to be remembered.