With only limited play-by-play experience, FSN studio host John Rhadigan was a surprise choice to replace longtime TV voice Josh Lewin on the Texas Rangers telecasts.
Lewin's entertainment approach wasn't popular with some fans and Rangers management, as he worked in a variety of topics in his broadcasts with analyst Tom Grieve. Lewin's duties as San Diego Chargers' radio announcer also didn't win him any points with the Rangers.
After initially interviewing a few veteran announcers for the job, the Rangers turned to Rhadigan, whom they had grown to like from his experience with �Rangers Live� pregame and postgame shows and emceeing team events. Rhadigan said the team at first wasn't sure he wanted the job because he had told them in past seasons he didn't want to cover all the road games.
�I only don't like the travel if I don't have an offseason,� said Rhadigan, who is married and has a 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son. �But I don't want to do 162 games in 180 days, not see my family at all for the entire summer, and then jump back into my all other duties (for FSN).�
It wasn't the first time he was a candidate for the Rangers' TV job. In 1997, the Rangers auditioned him and Bill Jones after announcer Mark Holtz was forced off the air because of leukemia that later claimed his life. Jones got the job that time.
Rhadigan said he will approach the Rangers' job like he has other sports assignments for Dallas NBC affiliate KXAS-TV, which he joined in 1990, and then FSN, as a �modern-day storyteller.�
�I love telling stories,� Rhadigan said. �I feel like I'm going to be in the booth, talking to Tom (Grieve) and telling the stories of the Texas Rangers. I think it will be a fairly colloquial and easy to listen to story time approach. I will try to make it as inside as I can. I know people do like to get to know the players on a personal level.�
Rhadigan, 49, will be learning on the job. A native of Brighton, Mich., Rhadigan has broadcast only a limited number of events. He called basketball games of his alma mater, Oakland (Mich.) University, after he graduated in 1983. Since joining Fox Sports Southwest in 2001, he's done a few events such as Texas Collegiate League baseball all-star games and Texas spring football games.
�I had told the people at Fox, �Any time you can work me in on play-by-play, I'd like to do that,� he said.
But most of his work for Fox Sports Southwest has been as a sideline reporter and studio host, including handling �Thunder Live� and college football studio shows. Rhadigan wraps up his FSN duties this weekend, although he said he may freelance for the network in the offseason. He jokes he has been a good-luck charm for the Thunder, with the team going 20-5 in games this season in which he has hosted �Thunder Live.�
�They are such a fun team to cover,� he said.
Rhadigan said he is eager to get to spring training in Surprise, Ariz., and calling games. He said he has done about 15 practice games by using video from past Rangers games and plans to work three webcasts with Grieve from March 9-11. He will make his debut on the Rangers TV network on March 12 against the Chicago White Sox and then on FSN on March 13 against the San Francisco Giants.
�I can't imagine that there could be a better time to join an organization between what happened on the field � going to their first ever World Series � then also with the ownership group that took over late last season,� he said. �It's an unbelievable atmosphere around the ballpark right now. It's really, really a family. I'm really excited about a long-term relationship with the club.�