45 minutes after his phone first rang with the news he was heading to New York, Kevin Brown’s thoughts weren’t about baseball. It got to the point where he was excited at the prospect of naming his first televised baseball game at the stadium he attended growing up.
But first, Brown, the lead commentator for the Orioles on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, and his wife had more pressing concerns. He didn’t expect this call, which told him he would be calling for Tuesday’s game against the Yankees in less than 24 hours. Brown and his wife had to decide whether they would take the train or their car and who would take care of their dog.
It was only after that, with those logistics sorted out, that Brown shifted his focus to the next night’s broadcast.
“Now I just have to call the baseball game,” Brown said on the Yankee Stadium field Tuesday afternoon. “What could be simpler than this?”
It hasn’t been easy in years past, with Brown canceling TV games at Camden Yards even when the team was on the road. And in 2022, the Orioles and Nationals, which air on Orioles-owned MASN, were the only commentators still doing virtual broadcasts.
But at 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Adam Martian, MASN’s coordinating producer, called Brown and told him to pack his suitcase. It was an unexpected turn of events. However, for Brown in his first year as lead broadcaster for the Orioles, the prospect of convening his first in-person road game in three years was all the more special because of the location of that road game, where the Islander would come to games from by his father.
“It’s strangely fitting that this is this city, this park,” Brown said. “Makes it more special.”
Brown is a self-proclaimed subscriber to coachspeak. He focuses on everyday processes, on what he and his wife will have for lunch in an hour. His wife, by contrast, is more concerned about where the couple’s children will spend Christmas in five years – “and we don’t have kids,” he added.
But even Brown, a strict daily observer, admits that his first opening day at Camden Yards this season is one he remembers. He arrived early, walked through the lobby and saw more fans in the stadium than there have been since he joined MASN in 2019. It was saturated with atmosphere, orange carpet, performances.
This is as big a picture as the 32-year-old football player allows himself.
“It was like a moment,” Brown said. “It was a moment with a capital “M” that I was lucky because in four years here, working part-time, I never had the opportunity to call home. … This was probably the moment when I most thought: “This is something special.”
By the time the new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009, Brown’s dreams of playing shortstop at the field were a remnant of the past, a young man who had yet to learn about the limited prospects of becoming a big player. Instead, his vision shifted to a broadcast booth, an equally challenging prospect, but one he was able to realize.
However, his first full season as the game’s main commentator began with various challenges. Over the past few years, he’s gotten used to calling games virtual, but there were still aspects that left a lot to be desired in the viewing experience.
For example, last week against the Angels, the ball hit the line and Brown thought it hit the target, judging by the initial camera angle when he called the game from the other side of the country. He was shocked when it wasn’t, and he was equally shocked that the Orioles didn’t challenge.
“I’m sure if we were in the park we would look along the line and see that it’s dirty,” Brown said. “But the camera angle was a bit off-center.”
Other technical difficulties also arose. During one of the spring training games on the court MASNsports.com the reporter called the game due to technical problems. Brown emphasized that there was a noticeable delay in the channel compared to the voices, and there was an echo present.
“I have to imagine that this played a role in the calculus [to travel again]but I don’t know,” Brown said. “No one said, ‘You’re going for reason X.’
Whatever prompted MASN to send Brown and Hall of Famer color analyst and pitcher Jim Palmer to New York is less important to Brown than the fact that they are in the Bronx at all.
There is a personal connection with the stadium he attended as a child. But there is also Brown’s professional competitiveness, which forces him to make the broadcast as “informative and entertaining” as possible every evening. When it’s virtual it’s still a goal. But when in person, this goal is only more easily achievable.
“We have the tools to make a great broadcast and that will make a huge difference,” Brown said. “I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that we are here and I think people will notice. I am really.”