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03/07/11 5:14 PM ET
Brewers analyst marks quarter century in Majors
Schroeder begins 17th year as television analyst for Crew
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Dale Sveum and Bill Schroeder were Brewers teammates, Sveum never fathomed that his friend would wind up in the television booth. "I didn't know he could string two sentences together," Sveum cracked. Yet there they were at Goodyear Ballpark on Monday, Sveum in the dugout as the Brewers hitting coach and Schroeder, affectionately known as "Rock" by his friends and fans, up in the press box for the team's first telecast of 2011. It marked an unofficial start to Schroeder's 17th season as the Brewers' TV analyst and his 25th season in the Major Leagues.Four different play-by-play men have worked alongside Schroeder, 52, a catcher during an eight-year big-league playing career with the Brewers and Angels. Schroeder began in 1995 with Jim Paschke, calling games that featured replacement players. He's since worked with Matt Vasgersian, Daron Sutton and now Brian Anderson, who will mark his fifth season alongside Schroeder in 2011. Paschke, who's now the TV play-by-play man for the Milwaukee Bucks, taught Schroeder the ropes. Vasgersian, who moved on to San Diego and then MLB Network, taught him how to have fun in the booth. Sutton, who moved to Arizona, and Anderson, hired in January 2007, helped Schroeder hone his skills. One piece of advice from Paschke stands out. "He told me, 'You want to be known as a broadcaster who used to play, and not the other way around,'" Schroeder said. "There's a lot of both in the business." Schroeder grew up in New Jersey, attended Clemson University and was drafted by the Brewers in the eighth round in 1979. He shot quickly through the Minor League system and debuted in the big leagues in 1983, playing behind Ted Simmons and Ned Yost. He belted 14 home runs in only 61 games in '84, and matched that total in 1987 while batting .332, but never played more than 75 games in a single year. The Brewers traded Schroeder to the Angels in 1988 and his playing career was over after the 1990. Five years later, he got a surprise phone call wondering if he would like to try broadcasting. "I was hoping when I was playing that I'd make enough money where I wouldn't have to be a broadcaster," he joked. But he gave it a try. "I look back at tapes I have from '95 and '96 and I wonder how they even let me back on the air," he said. "I wear Brewers baseball on my sleeve. I try not to do it too much up in the booth, but throughout the game I think people know who I'm rooting for. "The toughest thing for me when I first started were the live opens, standing there and trying to talk intelligently. I had a phobia about it. It took me four, five takes. Once you get over the red light on and the camera being in your face, it's just like watching baseball with a buddy." That was another tip from Paschke -- pretend you're having a conversation about the game with your buddy and the audience is just eavesdropping. "You have to be prepared," he said. "It looks easy because I work with partners who are very good about helping me, but then again, I do my preparation." His partner since 2007 has been Anderson, who called more than 1,000 Minor League games over nine seasons but was an anchor and reporter for the Golf Channel before the Brewers hired him. "We know each other so well now," Anderson said. "I know Bill's speaking style, when he wants to come in and make a point. For me, I'm like leading the ship, and when he has something to say, I clear out of the way. Then, when he says it, I come back in and try to support it with a stat or an anecdote or a joke." Only occasionally do they disagree. "We can have a debate about things," Anderson said. "He's always the analyst, though. He's the expert. I don't have any legs to stand on, unless I'm quoting other people. I get to hide behind quotes, and he actually has to give his opinion." Anderson developed a national presence in recent years by calling 10-15 Sunday games on TBS, and Anderson will again miss about 20 Brewers weekend games in 2011 to fulfill that obligation. FOX Sports Wisconsin's Craig Coshun will once again fill in when Anderson is away. Anderson will also be part of TBS' postseason broadcast team. He's under contract at least through 2013. Schroeder, who also coordinates the Brewers' fantasy camp, is under contract through the next two seasons, with two club options after that. The Brewers' duo was actually separated on Monday. The broadcast aired in both Wisconsin and Ohio, so the teams split up and took turns behind the mic. Schroeder and Reds play-by-play man Thom Brennaman called the first three innings. "He's a great communicator," Anderson said of Schroeder. "He gets his point across quickly and in an everyman manner, which I think the fans appreciate and I do, too. He doesn't beat around the bush with his opinions." Schroeder also tries to get the facts right. He says he reads the rulebook from cover to cover three times a year so he's never stumped by a ruling on the air. But it's not rocket science. "It's a lot easier than playing the game, believe me," he said. "I will say this -- it's a lot easier to play a baseball game after a night of too many drinks than it is to do a broadcast after a night of too many drinks." But that was years ago, Schroeder says with a smile. "Maybe in years 1-10," he said. "You have to concentrate. One little brief thing in the game can make you look like a fool."
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