In 1994, he became the inaugural voice of the Salt Lake Buzz (renamed the Bees during the 2005-2006 season). This past season, on June 24, he called his 3,000th game for Salt Lake. Today, Ballpark Digest honors Steve Klauke as the 2014 Broadcaster of the Year to kick off the annual BPD Awards.
“Over the years, fans identify with a team through its broadcaster, and since 1994 Bees fans have been lucky to have a broadcaster like Steve Klauke behind the booth,” said Kevin Reichard, Ballpark Digest publisher. “This award is recognition for Steve’s daily accomplishments, as well as his career with the Salt Lake Bees.”
“Miller Sports Properties and the Salt Lake Bees are truly fortunate to have such a great voice, a consummate professional and an outstanding individual in Steve representing our organization,” said Jim Olson, Chief Operating Officer for Miller Sports Properties. “Summer nights in Utah are more enjoyable listening to Steve describe the action of a Bees game on the radio or television.”
“Steve is not just one of the best broadcasters in Minor League Baseball; he is one of the best in any sport, at any level,” said Bees General Manager Marc Amicone. “This is a well-deserved award for the hardest-working and most-dedicated broadcaster I’ve ever met.”
“I would like to thank Kevin and the voting panel at Ballpark Digest for this wonderful honor,” Klauke said. “With all of the talented broadcasters in Minor League Baseball, especially my cohorts in the Pacific Coast League, it is greatly appreciated and very humbling.”
Klauke’s time in Salt Lake City began in 1991, when he joined the Utah Jazz broadcast team for pregame, halftime and postgame shows. In 1994, when the Portland Beavers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) became the Salt Lake Buzz, he was selected to handle play-by-play duties on radio and television for the team. After 3,064 games, two MLB affiliates and over 500 different players later, he’s still going strong with some of the best game broadcasts in all of baseball.
“I have always received a lot of enjoyment from following those players that have gone to success in the major leagues, which in my case means guys like LaTroy Hawkins, who is the only member of our original 1994 Salt Lake Buzz team still in the majors, Torii Hunter, A.J. Pierzynski, John Lackey, Chone Figgins, Jered Weaver and Mike Trout, among many others in our first seven years of affiliation with the Twins and the last 14 seasons with the Angels.
“There is also a big piece of my heart that goes to the guys that gave it their all and for whatever reason, did not make it,” Klauke said. “Fortunately through Facebook and other means, I have been able to stay in contact with some of those players and many of them have gone on to successful post-baseball careers.
“One of the main things I have learned in this business is that there are no shortcuts. As I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, I do more homework now than I did when I was a student in high school (which may explain my grades back then). Another came from a piece of advice I received from the late Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Brickhouse, who told me that no matter how bad your day has gone, don’t take it on the air with you. The people who are listening are doing so, in part, to escape their own problems for a couple of hours. So whether it may be a travel problem, something going wrong with your equipment or some other difficulty, unless you can turn it into a funny, laugh it off story, don’t bother the listener with it.”
It is a classic take on broadcasting: let the game be the center of the action.
“There is so much to enjoy about what I do, I am not sure where to start,” he said. “I still enjoy going to the ballpark every day, talking with the managers, players and coaches before, during or after batting practice to get those nuggets for the broadcast, as well as walking the concourse just after the gates open to find out what the fans are thinking and what they want to know.
“As I put it to one newspaper reporter this summer, yes, there are days that I come to the ballpark tired, especially after a 3:30 wake up call following a night game for a 6:30 a.m. flight, but I am never tired of what I do.”
And neither are Bees fans.
This is the first of many 2014 Ballpark Digest awards to be announced in the next week. Previous winners. Past broadcasting winners include Mike Capps (Round Rock Express), Paul Edmonds (Winnipeg Goldeyes), Donny Baarns (Visalia Rawhide) and John Sadak (Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders). A complete listing of Ballpark Digest Awards can be found at www.ballparkdigest.com/awards.