Giants broadcast duo covers plenty of topics
BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – The biggest news in baseball these days is the Mitchell Report and the hearings on Capitol Hill.
Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, who are part of the San Francisco Giants broadcast team, took time to weigh in on that subject and former teammate Barry Bonds before speaking to the Nevada baseball team prior to the 24th annual Bobby Dolan Dinner at the Silver Legacy Tuesday night.
“It’s a process,” said Krukow, whose son, Baker, played for Nevada coach Gary Powers the last four years. “I’m looking forward to getting it over so we don’t have to refer back to this era.”
Krukow said he first knew about drugs in baseball back in the mid-80s.
“Three or four of my teammates hired nutritionists,” he said. “All of a sudden they got bigger. I didn’t put two and two together (immediately). It was not an option (for me).”
Krukow gets a little steamed when he reads or hears that ex-teammate Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two of the big names in the Mitchell Report, wouldn’t be eligible or on somebody’s Hall of Fame ballot.
“That’s absolutely absurd,” Krukow said. “They are doing it just to hurt these guys, and that really ticks me off.”
Krukow pointed out that 250 innings pitched and averaging 150 games a year isn’t easy. He also pointed out that both had Hall of Fame numbers before the alleged drug allegations started. Bonds had won at least four or five MVP awards.
Krukow said both Clemens and Bonds, and Mark McGwire should be in the Hall of Fame.
Kuiper had a chance to call Bonds’ historic 756th homer, and he admitted that he wrote six lines down and taped it to the back of the Washington Nationals’ media guide so it wouldn’t become obvious to anybody. Kuiper said by the time he went through his written-down tribute that Bonds was near third base.
“I just didn’t want to screw it up,” Kuiper said. “The 756th needed to be hit as a San Francisco Giant.”
Krukow said that Bonds is the greatest player he’s ever seen, and that it was great to see him everyday.
“I don’t know another guy with a swing quite so consistent that combined power with average,” Krukow said. “He was unbelievable to watch.”
Krukow liked to tell the story about watching Bonds take batting practice, and he admitted he watched the slugger take BP everyday of the season.
Krukow said that you could hear the constant crack of the bat, but when Bonds connected it was a completely different sound. It’s something he said he will miss.
Kuiper would love to see Bonds come back for another year, but understands why it won’t happen.
“The team is trying to re-tool,” he said. “It’s a chance to give some younger players (time). It probably wouldn’t be a good marriage.”
Will Bonds come back at all this year?
“If he comes back, it will be sometime in June,” Krukow said. “A team will identify a weakness.”
Krukow said that it would probably be an American League team because Bonds could be a DH and not have to subject himself to the rigors of playing everyday.
Krukow and Kuiper played together for the Giants from 1983 to 1985, a period which saw the franchise go 207-279, racking up the most losses over a three-year stretch in club history.
Both said in a San Jose Mercury article in 2003 that the three-year stretch helped make them better broadcasters. It forced them to search for ways to keep the game fresh and fun.
They have been together full-time in the broadcast booth since 1991. It’s a match made in heaven.
Kuiper, after a rough first year, is smooth as silk as a play-by-play man. Krukow has an outgoing, John Madden-like personality, and he’s learned to make it easier for lay people to understand some of his rantings.
Kuiper started in 1983 doing the Giants’ post-game show on KNBR. In 1986, he was paired with Joe Morgan on GiantsVision broadcasts when Phil Stone was let go. Kuiper didn’t want to make the move, because he felt more comfortable doing color. Corey Busch, then the team’s executive VP, was insistent.
Krukow started filling in that year, and by 1991 was up to 40 games a season.
“I wasn’t very good,” Kuiper said. “The more you do it, the better you get.”
Kuiper estimates that it took maybe two seasons for him and Krukow to totally jell into one in the broadcast booth.
The duo is so popular that in 2003 the team sold replica jerseys. Sales went over the 1,000 mark, and more jerseys had to be ordered. The Kruk & Kuip bobblehead doll, according to a San Jose Mercury News story, helped raise $2,000 at a charity event.
They love to poke fun at fans in the stands that are wearing Dodger garb or talking on cell phones during games. They joke at the older gentlemen who serve as ball dudes at the home games.
It’s evident they like to have fun and will even poke fun at each other.
Krukow hit four homers in his career with the Giants, Phillies and Cubs. Kuiper hit just one homer in more than 3,300 plate appearances.
Kuiper was asked if Krukow ever rubs that in his face.
“Twenty or 25 times a year,” Kuiper said, a wry smile on his face. “Forty maybe.”
On the road they are always together, whether it’s eating breakfast, riding the bus, taking walks or going to a movie.
In Chicago, the duo decided to try rollerblading.
“We got up at 9, got to the Sports Authority at 9:30 to buy the blades and by 10, I had three broken ribs,” Krukow said. “I got no sympathy from him (Kuiper). He told me I had to skate back to the hotel because he didn’t have any money for a cab.”
Kuiper remembers that Krukow did the game later that day, but was hunched over much of the time.
“He wasn’t very good at it,” Kuiper said, a smile on his face. “He tried to do a Whirlybird. As soon as the doctor said it was OK, he was back up rollerblading.”