MLB Network today announced that former Major League pitcher and veteran broadcaster Jim Kaat and former Major League second baseman and radio host Billy Ripken have joined its roster of on-air talent. Ripken will join the cast of MLB Tonight, the live, nightly studio show is the signature program of the network, joining Sean Casey, Barry Larkin, Al Leiter, Joe Magrane, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds and Mitch Williams as a studio analyst. Kaat will provide color commentary for a select number of live game broadcasts as part of MLB Network’s Thursday Night Baseball in addition to occasional studio work.
“We’re pleased to welcome Jim Kaat back to the broadcast booth, and equally excited to have Billy Ripken join our talented studio team,” said Tony Petitti, President and Chief Executive Officer of MLB Network. “With Opening Day around the corner, our on-air roster is game ready and we can’t wait for the regular season to get started.”
(See The Biz of Baseball interview with Tony Petitti)
Kaat won 283 games in a 25-year career with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins (1959-73), Chicago White Sox (1973-75), Philadelphia Phillies (1976-79), New York Yankees (1979-80) and St. Louis Cardinals (1980-83). A three-time All-Star, Kaat won a record 16 consecutive Gold Glove awards, and also captured a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 1982. Kaat’s broadcasting career stretches over 20 years and includes national baseball work with CBS, ABC and TBS as well as 14 years with the Yankees on the YES Network as well as WPIX and MSG Network (1986 and 1994-2006). Kaat also worked in the Twins broadcast booth from 1988-2003. He has won a total of 7 Emmy Awards for his work as a baseball broadcaster.
In a 12-year career, Ripken played for the Baltimore Orioles (1987-92, 1996), Texas Rangers (1993-94, 1997), Cleveland Indians (1995) and Detroit Tigers (1998). Ripken’s debut with the Orioles in 1987 – playing alongside his brother Cal and with his father Cal Sr. managing – made Major League history as the only time a father simultaneously managed two of his sons. In 1990, Ripken led the Orioles with a .291 batting average and he and Cal tied for the team lead with 28 doubles. In 1992, his .993 fielding percentage was tops among second basemen. More recently he served as co-host with Cal on XM Satellite Radio’s “Ripken Baseball” show on MLB Home Plate. Ripken was inducted into the Maryland Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. Ripken is currently serving as first base coach for Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Source: MLB Network
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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