Mike Sweeney on his hard-hitting role in the radio booth

Mike Sweeney was leaving a youth baseball field in Huntington Beach, Calif., after coaching his son’s game on May 2 when his phone rang.

That’s not unusual for Sweeney, the Royals’ special assistant for baseball operations and leadership development. But the reason for the call was.

The entire Royals radio team was struggling with illness and the plan was to have Triple-A broadcaster Jake Eisenberg as the play-by-play voice. The Royals wanted to know if Sweeney could step away from his wife and six children for a few days to serve as an analyst.

Sweeney called his wife, Shara, and she and the couple’s children told him to go.

“I had about 12 hours to pack up and go from San Diego to Kansas City and continue to Baltimore after a short streak with the Cardinals,” said Sweeney, who played for the Royals from 1995 to 2007. “Overall, I had a great time. But it was only a temporary joy to replace the pit lads who I admire and respect a lot.

Denny Matthews Hall of FameSteve Physioc and Steve Stewart were all at home and couldn’t work the two-game streak against the Cardinals and a four-game set at Baltimore.

Sweeney, member of Royal Hall of Famesaid he felt like he had big shoes to fill.

“I felt honored and thrilled to replace legends like Phys and Stu and Denny,” Sweeney said. “I was delighted to work alongside Jake Eisenbergour Triple-A broadcaster, and then, of course, the Vin Scully of today’s baseball in my eyes, Ryan Lefebvre.

Eisenberg and Sweeney called the two-game series against the Cardinals. Lefebvre worked in the series’ radio booth in Baltimore and offered advice to Sweeney.

“Ryan Lefebvre said, ‘Mike, imagine it’s just you and me sitting together on a couch watching a ball game,'” Sweeney said. “‘Let’s pretend we’re telling some people back home what it’s like for guys like you and me to watch the game together.’ And taking that perspective was special.

Not content to simply serve as a temporary replacement, Sweeney would ask everyone associated with the broadcast for advice on how he could improve after each game. By the time of the final match on May 9, Sweeney felt more comfortable than that first match.

Sweeney was no complete novice. He had worked for the MLB Network as an analyst for a year after retiring in 2010. But he did not pursue broadcast work because his wife and children were more important at that time in his life. .

They always are. This commitment to family is why Sweeney has no desire to return to the broadcast booth, even though fans seemed to like hearing it. But he was happy to help the Royals when they were in a bind.

“It’s like asking Travis Kelce to pinch him. He’s a football player and you’re asking him to do something he’s never done before,” Sweeney said. “And not only that, but you’re going to hit hard for Salvador Perez. I was walking into a broadcast booth for a caption and it was something I had never done before.

“So I appreciate that the fans and the organization showed me some grace because all I wanted to do was make Denny, Phys and Stu proud at the house I tried to replace for them. and do a decent job of honoring them.”

This story was originally published May 27, 2022 10:59 a.m.

From World Series coverage to the World Cup, Pete has done a bit of everything since joining The Star in 1997.

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