Cubs fans were presented with a bit of a shock to the system, though not really a surprise, with the non-tender of Kyle Schwarber earlier this week.
Late Thursday, we were greeted with news that truly is shocking with this report from Sahadev Sharma in The Athletic that Cubs TV play-by-play voice Len Kasper is departing Marquee Sports Network to become the White Sox’ radio play-by-play man on ESPN 1000.
Len’s reasons for switching Chicago jobs had nothing to do with any displeasure with his position with Marquee, writes Sharma:
Kasper, who turns 50 in January, has always been passionate about radio and relished his opportunities to sit in on radio broadcasts with Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer during the fifth inning of nationally televised games. Sources indicated that there was no bad blood between Kasper and management at Marquee and the decision came from Kasper’s desire to shift mediums.
It’s also well known that Kasper has always wanted to call a World Series. With games on national television come playoff time, this would be Kasper’s best chance.
I can understand that, I suppose. In addition to the fifth innings of nationally televised games noted by Sharma, Kasper also wound up calling portions of some Cubs postseason games on radio for the same reason, that he couldn’t call them on Cubs TV in October.
Next question: Who will replace him? Sharma’s article has the likely answer:
Multiple sources told The Athletic that Chris Myers is a leading candidate to replace Kasper in the Marquee Sports Network booth alongside analyst Jim Deshaies.
Myers was announced as a studio host and play-by-play announcer during Cubs Convention last January. He has more than three decades of broadcasting experience, having spent a decade at ESPN and the last 22 years with Fox Sports. Myers is most well-known for his NFL and MLB play-by-play work, but he has experience calling a wide variety of sports.
Myers was supposed to call up to 10 games during the 2020 season on Marquee when Kasper did some Fox-TV work, but that never happened. While he has significant sports broadcasting experience, his baseball play-by-play experience is limited to two seasons calling games for Fox in 2012 and 2013. Here is a Mets/Braves game Myers called for Fox in 2012 (with Eric Karros as analyst).
Myers has no particular connection to Chicago or the Cubs, but then, neither did Kasper when he took the job as Cubs play-by-play man in 2005. Over the years he’s become one of the more beloved figures in Cubs broadcasting history and has sprinkled his broadcasts with both pop culture references and advanced stats.
Gordon Wittenmyer also reports that Kasper’s replacement will be Myers.
Sharma notes that Kasper will replace Andy Masur, who had succeeded to the Sox radio booth after their longtime radio PBP man Ed Farmer passed away last April. Masur, a Chicago-area native who occasionally substituted for Pat Hughes on WGN radio Cubs broadcasts from 1999-2006, has TV experience with the Padres and I’d love to see him considered for some role at Marquee.
Personally, I had hoped Kasper would stay as Cubs TV play-by-play announcer for many years to come. As noted above, he’s just 50 years old and easily could have worked for Marquee for another decade or two. Instead, he departs after 16 seasons behind the Cubs microphone. Only Harry Caray (also 16 seasons) and Jack Brickhouse (34 seasons) were Cubs TV PBP men for as long as Kasper, and between those three, that covers 66 of the 73 seasons that Cubs games have been televised. The other seven years, 1998-2004, featured Chip Caray as lead PBP man. It’s remarkable that the Cubs have had just four lead television PBP announcers over a period that long.
Now, Kasper joins Jack and Harry (as well as Steve Stone) as men who will have broadcast games for both the Cubs and White Sox. I will miss Len calling Cubs games, but wish him nothing but the best in his new position with the White Sox. I’ve reached out to him for comment and will update this article when he responds.