CHICAGO -- Jason Benetti’s favorite call as the White Sox television voice centers upon having as much fun as possible with the game of baseball he loves.
It happened on April 26, 2019, in a 12-11 White Sox victory, when Tim Anderson launched a walk-off home run against Detroit reliever Joe Jimenez on the first pitch he saw after Jimenez had struck out Ryan Cordell and Leury García in the ninth. The shortstop’s blast culminated White Sox comebacks from an 8-1 deficit in the fourth, a 9-2 deficit in the fifth and a 10-4 deficit in the sixth.
Anderson punctuated the game-winner with a celebratory bat toss toward the White Sox dugout somewhat akin to an Olympic javelin throw. Benetti took over from there.
“Have all the fun you want, Tim Anderson. This one is done,” said Benetti in what he points to as his most enjoyable broadcast moment, before pausing to let the crowd noise and the on-field jubilation take center stage. “We’ve got a star on our hands on the South Side of Chicago.”
That Benetti assessment was proven true, as Anderson’s .335 average not only led the American League but was No. 1 overall during the 2019 season. This drive to left also came nine days after a contest against the Royals in which Anderson homered in the fourth inning off of Brad Keller, delivered an equally demonstrative celebration and was then hit by a pitch in the backside by Keller to start the sixth.
Both benches emptied, and Anderson eventually was one of the individuals suspended for conduct after the benches cleared. Benetti liked the energy in Guaranteed Rate Field at the time of the Detroit walk-off, but standing firmly in Anderson’s corner, felt deeper meaning than simply an exciting victory.
“After everything that happened with the Royals, it was this moment where this young man trumpets himself as somebody who absolutely -- and we knew this in the first place, knowing Tim -- but somebody who backs up everything he stands for on the baseball diamond,” Benetti told MLB.com. “And it wouldn’t have necessarily mattered if he hit that home run one way or the other because Tim is Tim and he stands for what he stands for -- people who don’t have a whole lot in life. He wants to be there as both their shield and their guide and their mentor.
“He also is somebody who loves big moments and we found that out at that time. I think of everything that happened the last couple of years, that one set the stage for what’s coming with White Sox baseball as much as anything I’ve seen, especially considering the context of what happened with K.C. and Tim being suspended and all of that. Tim basically said, ‘Bring it.’”
As a broadcasting craftsman, who expertly works sports from baseball to basketball to football to lacrosse, Benetti also was pleased with how he handled Anderson’s statement.
“To me, that encapsulated in that moment what Tim was standing for and what he was fighting for and what he was battling for,” said Benetti of his “Have all the fun you want, Tim Anderson” call. “I watched that back and I think it’s one of those scenarios where every once in a while you put the right caption at the right picture, and that’s why we do our jobs.
This call resonated with White Sox fans, partially because Benetti is so good at what he does. But as Benetti pointed out, it also represented a moment of career growth for Anderson and a step forward for a rebuilding team starting to believe in itself.
“What I kind of don’t understand about the whole other side of that argument, if there is one, that evidently fun is difficult to allow,” Benetti said. “That’s why we go to the ballpark, to smile, to celebrate.
“We look back on that moment, and for a week, people were arguing over whether or not Tim can show his joy and flip a bat. We would do anything to go hold a bat outside right now. So, maybe Tim had it right all along.”