For nearly 40 years, the only voice more synonymous with Phillies baseball than the late, Hall of Fame play-by-play man Harry Kalas was Chris Wheeler.
But for the first time since 1976, Wheeler will not be a part of the Phillies broadcasting team this coming season.
Less than a week after coming to terms on a new television contract with Comcast SportsNet, the Phillies announced two changes to its broadcast team on Tuesday afternoon. The 68-year-old Wheeler and fellow color commentator Gary “Sarge” Matthews will not be with the Phillies broadcasting team in 2014.
The remainder of the broadcast team - TV play-by-play man Tom McCarthy, roving TV reporter Greg Murphy, the radio team or Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen and pre- and post-game show host Jim Jackson - will return to the same roles in 2014, according to a team source.
Wheeler, a Marple Newtown and Penn State graduate who first joined the Phillies organization in 1971, released the following statement through the team: “It’s been an honor and a privilege to be a part of the Phillies broadcast team for 37 years. I certainly respect the decision that was made and I look forward to my new role in the Phillies organization.”
The team sent out a statement via email on Tuesday to announce the change:
”As the longest-tenured member of the Phillies broadcasting team, Chris Wheeler will return to his club roots after stepping down from his role as a Phillies broadcaster,” the statement read. “With 37 years of broadcasting experience, combined with his front office background where he began his Phillies career, ‘Wheels’ will take on a new role allowing the organization to continue to benefit from his knowledge, experience and dedication to the game. Additionally, Gary Matthews will continue to work with the Phillies bringing his exceptional background as a major league ballplayer, broadcaster and commentator to new roles at the Phillies.”