'World-class' broadcaster Benetti to handle Tigers play-by-play

November 9th, 2023

DETROIT -- Jason Benetti has become one of the leading voices of Major League Baseball, the NFL, college football and basketball. He’s now going to be the voice of the Tigers on television.

The Tigers announced Thursday that Benetti is joining the club on a multiyear contract to handle play-by-play for their telecasts on Bally Sports Detroit.

“I’m incredibly proud to join this historic and ascending Tigers franchise,” Benetti said in a statement. “From every single person I talked with throughout the interview process, it was clear why so many respected professionals and creative people have joined the organization in the last several years. There’s something special about it, and I’m excited to bring that energy to Tigers fans around the globe. I’d also like to thank Chris Ilitch, Ryan Gustafson, Scott Harris and everyone else I’ve met with in the last several weeks who have been so welcoming. Everyone I spent time with made it clear this was the right place for me. I was born and raised in the Midwest, and understand how important sports are, especially here in the Motor City.”

Benetti’s hire culminates just over a monthlong search that the Tigers conducted once it was announced that Matt Shepard would not return after just over five years. In the process, Benetti -- who will be employed by the Tigers rather than the network, unlike his predecessors -- becomes the highest-profile Tigers broadcaster since at least Josh Lewin in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“Jason is a world-class talent and today is another tremendous step forward for the Tigers as we continue to build a championship-level organization and experience for our fans,” Gustafson, EVP/COO of Ilitch Sports + Entertainment, said in a release. “Beyond his talent, Jason’s story is inspirational and our shared commitment to excellence and innovation was apparent throughout our discussions. We are thrilled to welcome Jason to our family, joining an incredible group of broadcasters at the Tigers and Red Wings that create the on-air experience our fans deserve.”

The desire to create that experience connected with Benetti as he met with the Tigers last week.

"In the interview process, I felt and knew that I was surrounded by people who want to be extraordinarily great and forward thinking and do this in a smart, analytical way that is just beyond the scope of anything I would have expected in terms of what they also want from their television announcer," Benetti said on a Thursday call with reporters. "They want somebody who’s going to think about the game from all facets. They want somebody who is going to have a good time every once in a while, whose dad jokes will be terrible infrequently – check that, frequently.

"They wanted me, and I wanted them just as much because of how they feel about moving forward and what this franchise wants to do in terms of just intelligent, but also a fan base. … There are fans here that want to win badly, and they want to enjoy winning."

Benetti spent eight years on White Sox baseball at NBC Sports Chicago, where his knowledge of the game, keen observation and affable style made him a beloved presence for Sox fans and a perfect partner for longtime White Sox TV analyst Steve Stone. Benetti, a Chicago-area native, ranked first in the Chicago Sun-Times’ sports broadcast media power rankings in 2022.

That success led to national opportunities. After 11 years working with ESPN on a variety of sports, notably college basketball, he joined FOX Sports in August 2022 to do play-by-play on college football and basketball, NFL and MLB games. He has also handled play-by-play of NCAA men’s basketball tournament games on national radio, and he was the inaugural play-by-play voice on Peacock’s Sunday morning/afternoon baseball package in 2022. He was NBC’s play-by-play voice for Olympics baseball in 2021.

The Tigers offered Benetti a chance to continue that national work. He’ll call a minimum of 127 Tigers games each season for Bally Sports Detroit, with longtime Tigers radio play-by-play broadcaster Dan Dickerson hopping over to TV on the others.

“We want to thank Jason Benetti for all he has done for the Chicago White Sox throughout his tenure and for all he means to White Sox fans,” White Sox chief revenue and marketing officer Brooks Boyer said in a statement. “Not only is Jason one of the very best broadcasters across multiple sports, he is a born-and-raised White Sox fan who shared his passion for the team on air night in and night out. He represented the club in the community and engaged with fans, all while delivering one of the very best local broadcasts in Major League Baseball.

“As we have in the past when career-changing opportunities were made available for Jason’s consideration while under contract with the White Sox, including ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Statcasts, the Olympics, Peacock Sunday MLB games, and most recently, becoming one of FOX’s top play-by-play talents for national broadcasts, we agreed to allow Jason to explore the opportunity with the Detroit Tigers, which he has accepted. We are proud to see Jason continue to live out his dream to bring the games he loves into the homes of fans in his unique style. We will miss Jason calling White Sox games and wish him the very best on this next chapter of his storied broadcasting career.”

Gustafson said the Tigers are still working on deciding which analysts to pair with Benetti. Craig Monroe was the primary analyst alongside Shepard this year, but Kirk Gibson, Dan Petry and Cameron Maybin also did some games. Those decisions will be announced closer to Opening Day.

How the Tigers handle radio broadcasts on games when Dickerson is filling in on television is also to be determined. Greg Gania, voice of the Eastern League champion Erie SeaWolves, has filled in for Dickerson on occasion over the last couple seasons, including the combined no-hitter from Matt Manning and the Tigers’ bullpen in July.