The ESPN host who was calling a Phillies game the night Osama bin Laden was killed is walking away from Sunday Night Baseball.
After nearly 20 years of doing baseball games for ESPN, longtime announcer Dan Shulman is walking away from the booth after this season.
“Dan recently expressed his desire to modify his schedule to coincide with some personal life changes, and he has our full support,” ESPN senior vice president Mark Gross said in a statement to Philly.com.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, Shulman said that he will be getting remarried next year and that the decision to walk away from baseball did not come from higher-ups at the network, which laid off about 100 on-air personalities back in April.
“I’m grateful to ESPN for giving me this opportunity, and equally grateful that they agreed to let me reconfigure my situation in order to make this work,” Shulman said. “The older we get, I think we sometimes reprioritize, and I guess I’m doing that.”
In fact, Shulman isn’t leaving the network entirely. He will remain ESPN’s play-by-play voice for NCAA men’s basketball, and continue to be featured in ESPN’s popular Saturday night package alongside analyst Dick Vitale.
Shulman was in the booth with former Mets manager Bobby Valentine and former Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser at Citizens Bank Park calling a May 2011 home game versus the Mets the night that Osama bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, was found and killed by American forces.
“It still is and probably always will be as surreal a night as I will ever have on the air,” Shulman told Newsday last year. “The biggest part to me was just the reaction of the crowd. I got a text from [former ESPN announcer] Mike Tirico that night and he said, ‘Don’t lose sight of the fact there is no place on Earth right now where more Americans are gathered in one place than in that ballpark.’ ”
Former Pennsylvania governor and current Daily News columnist Ed Rendell was among those who found out about bin Laden’s death from watching the game that night.
“Like 45,000-plus fans at the Bank and millions more watching the game on TV, I just knew something was happening when a low ripple of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A’ chants started to emanate from the fans in the stands,” Rendell wrote in a column after the game. “As those chants grew more numerous and louder, Dan Shulman, in a Howard Cosell/John Lennon moment, told us what had happened. Seconds later, the noise had built to a crescendo and the cheering and chants were deafening.”
Shulman, along with then-broadcast partner and current Phillies analyst John Kruk, was sued for $10 million in 2013 by Andrew Rector, a fan who fell asleep during a Yankees-Red Sox Sunday Night Baseball game. Rector alleged the duo called him “fatty, unintelligent and stupid,” but a judge tossed the case after the video revealed Shulman and Kruk simply wondered how the fan managed to fall asleep in just the 4th inning.
“We gotta see how long this guy’s out for,” Shulman said.
Shulman started at ESPN back in 1995, and has been the voice of Sunday Night Baseball since 2011. Before that, he handled baseball games for the network during the week. On top of that, Shulman has called ESPN Radio’s MLB postseason games for almost 20 years.
Shulman has been joined in the booth for the past two seasons by ESPN analysts Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza, with on-field reporting by Buster Olney.
If he wasn’t busy enough, the 50-year-old will also continue to call some Blue Jays games for Sportsnet. Those are easier to squeeze in, being close to his home in Toronto.