By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — They look at each other without any prompting, and shake their heads. It’s their silent communication that’s so intriguing, a sort of organic telepathy that leads into their verbal choreography. Yes, neither Scott Franzke nor Larry Andersen can believe that they’ve been together for a decade now.
And again, without any eye contact or knowing nod, they shake their heads simultaneously.
“Feels more like 20 years—at least 20,” quips Franzke, attired in blue jeans, a light Phillies’ blue zip-up jacket and sneakers.
“I always say time is fun when you’re having flies; and there’s been a lot of flies in the last 10 years,” counters Andersen, dressed in a casual brown jacket and collared shirt. “It sometimes feels like 10 weeks.”
They bring out the best in each other, the tall, lean Texan with the understated delivery and the former Major League pitcher, who disguises his acumen with a zany sense of humor.
The Phillies’ radio broadcast team of Franzke and Andersen are arguably the best in the business. What is undeniable is that they’ve become a Philadelphia treasure. They can make a lopsided 8-1 game entertaining. If you didn’t hear them on 94WIP through your car radio, or sitting and listening on your back porch, you would swear they’re two guys mic’d up at a local bar talking over the game.
Franzke and LA are this generation’s “Harry and Whitey,” and their unconventional style fits the times. They’re refreshing, not contrived, never boring, and they miss nothing.
After Freddy Galvis struck out on a foul tip in the third inning of the Phillies’ 4-3 victory over Cleveland on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park, Franzke quickly noticed Galvis staring at his bat as he walked back to the dugout, as if looking for a hole in it. Andersen, while keeping up with the commercial drop-ins on an iPad, adroitly broached how Phils starter Jerad Eickhoff worked on other areas of his game when he was recovering from a fractured right thumb during spring training.
Franzke and Andersen care whether or not the Phillies win, and they know the game. Their words paint vivid pictures of plays that you take for granted after a decade of listening to them. They’re perfect for radio—and it’s where they prefer to stay.
Franzke is a closet needler and Andersen’s flaky radio persona shadows an ardent work ethic and brilliance. What makes this combo work is trust.
The merger didn’t come under the best circumstances. Andersen felt he was being demoted when he was moved from TV to radio fulltime in 2007, and Franzke was considered the quiet “outsider” from the Texas market in charge of flushing out the “inner” Andersen.
In 2006, Scott Graham worked the first three innings of radio, the legendary Harry Kalas the fourth, Franzke and Andersen did the fifth and sixth innings, and Graham would return to finish. In December of that year, the Phillies didn’t renew Graham’s contract and in stepped Franzke and Andersen.
Andersen’s first impression of Franzke was that he was a “dork,” which causes both Franzke and Andersen to erupt into laughter.
“But really, I don’t know if I had a first impression of Scott,” said Andersen, who credits the late Andy Musser and former Phillies announcer Chris Wheeler for helping his broadcasting career blossom. “When I met Scott, I thought I can get along really well with this guy. He was a little quiet then. He wasn’t withdrawn, just quiet. I was also at a different stage than where I am now. I’ll be honest, when they told me that I was going strictly to radio, I thought it was a demotion and I was disappointed. And then I met Scott—it really was a demotion (they both laugh again.)”
“They told Scott about trying to get my personality out, and for me, their agenda was to make Scott feel comfortable. They wanted us to work on each other and it was easy. There wasn’t really a time we had to connect, because I would say the connection was immediate. It was just a matter of knowing each other better and lot of it was a matter of trust. What added to that is that we were winning and playing well. We had some talent in 2007, and the World Series in 2008. If it happened two years ago, it may have taken some time. But winning helped. If the game was close, it’s going to take care of itself. If not, I’ll go into my shtick to make it entertaining to listen to without losing track of the game.
[mlbvideo id=”7076517″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]
:18 mark – Franzke, LA call Jimmy Rollins’ 2009 NLCS Game 4 walk-off Double.
“Harry’s advice to me was to be myself. He’d say, ‘If you have something to say, say it.’ When I went to radio working with Scott that did help me. It brought out my personality, because with Harry, who was a dear friend and I loved him, there wasn’t the dialogue that I have with Scott now. It was more like two monologues versus a dialogue. Harry would call the game and he didn’t stray from that. He would call the game and for me, personality-wise, that didn’t come out on the broadcast with him. I don’t know if I was nervous working with Harry, because the first couple of years, I just sat back and I wanted to listen to him. I did. He was a legend. You’re right there next to Harry and this guy sounds so good calling a game, and you hear him on the radio, you just want to sit back and listen. I caught myself doing that a lot with Harry. You wait for the home run to hear Harry’s call.
“That took a while for me to realize I was part of the broadcast and I had something to add. With Scott, this was an arranged marriage that has worked out well. They picked the right people and you can’t get divorced from it, unless you want to walk away from your job. You make the best of it, and I’ve been one, to my playing days, to coaching, to this, to have fun. You have to enjoy what you do. It’s why you’ll hear us talk about it a lot with Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco taking infield, those guys are having fun out there. They’re enjoying it. I want to have fun doing what I’m doing. I certainly get cranky and I can be a little overbearing—and Scott knows it, and I know it. I said to Scott, ‘If I’m saying something, don’t be afraid to tell me.’ He does.”
“They had ‘warned me’ about LA; they said he’s a really funny guy and that I would really like him,” Franzke said. “They wanted me to bring his personality out on the air, and originally for me, it was a lot of learning about Larry and getting that personality out. My first impression of Larry was that you could see right away he is a funny guy and he has a great way with people. They’re drawn to him. He’s the life of the party, and I don’t mean that in the sort of drunken caricature way, although he’s been there a few times (they both laugh). He likes to have fun; he values life and values friendships. He values a good time.
“We have to spend a lot of time together, and that’s what it is. We realize that we have lives outside of this. We have good days and bad days. We’re friends; we’re there for each other. We don’t poke or pry. This job is an awesome job, though it has a lot of challenges. It puts strain on relationships, including this one. What made it work I think is what Larry said about trust. I was the new guy back then; I had to trust Larry a lot. I was an outsider, not only to the broadcast crew but to the market.
“What makes it work is I know that Larry and I have a similar philosophy, a similar sense of humor and similar belief in the way to do a broadcast. I think that helped the product. We’re not two competing elements doing this. At the end of the day, we both take the product pretty seriously and we don’t take ourselves very seriously. We can punch and jab and make fun of each other. We like to have a good time with the game, but we also have a certain reverence for the moment that’s happening out on the field, because that’s what it’s really about. We’re the conduit to that for a lot of people. I don’t know if what we have is special, but I’m very happy about the product that we put out there. We try and work at it and it’s not as easy as some people want to believe. It takes work and effort for all of us. I think everyone comes from the same place: This is the greatest job in the world, let’s have fun with it. If we’re going to be miserable here, we better find something else to do.”
Their humility won’t allow them to come right out and admit that they’re special. But they’ve had an effect on the avid Phillies community that follows this team. And the people that have been around the Phillies for the last decade—and beyond.
“There’s no doubt that they’re special,” Wheeler said. “They like each other and they understand what it takes to have a good broadcast. You can’t do what Scott and LA do on TV, because it’s too busy, there’s too much visual stuff going on. Scott is a very good play-by-play man and he understands the levels of the game, and Larry knows what people like. In my opinion, it works because of their chemistry. You can’t get along with someone on the air and not get along with them off the air. It doesn’t work that way.
“In baseball you can’t fake it. There’s so much time, so many games over so many months, you can’t be a phony in this business. You are what you are. If you’re a good guy on the air, you’re a good guy off the air. And you won’t come across two better guys than Scott and LA. Scott is a needler, he has a very low-key personality. He has the perfect foil in Larry. They don’t make up stuff; whatever happens, happens. But they do have a lot in common. They bring the best out of each other, and neither wants to be on TV. They’re very comfortable in the format of radio. It’s the place where you can get close to your listener. I think Scott and LA would be good at anything they do together. Well, the two of them have picked up golf. We’ll leave that alone.
“They’re very special. You do not make that stuff up, especially in this city. These guys connect and they understand how important they are to people.”
For both, their greatest compliments come from the fans “when they say we remind them of Harry and Whitey,” said Andersen, who’s been in Philadelphia since 1983 and has moved permanently to the city. “I love the fans here; I love the people. It’s why I moved here. I get in trouble as much as anyone because I get angry when the game is not being played right and guys do things wrong. I used to love umpires, but today, they don’t enjoy being out there. They don’t enjoy the game; the arrogance of seeing that gets to me. Plus I don’t think they’re as good as they used to be—but that’s just my opinion.
“When I first got this job, they said we’re replacing Harry and Whitey and my response was, ‘You can’t replace them.’”
“Harry would be the first to tell either one of us to be yourself, because you’re not someone else,” Franzke chimed in.
And would Harry be smiling at his successors?
“I would hope so,” Andersen said.