As trade rumors swirl in South Florida regarding Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, the club quietly announced that Tommy Hutton, the television analyst of the club since 1997, would not return for the 2016 season.
One of the more outspoken analysts in baseball, Hutton teamed with four different play-by-play men in the broadcast booth during his 19 seasons with the Marlins, including Rich Waltz since 2005. Waltz and radio announcers Dave Van Horne and Glenn Geffner will retain their current roles.
According to Hutton, the Marlins and Fox Sports Florida, which owns the television rights to the team’s broadcasts, declined to give an explanation for the sudden changes and simply chose to not his renew contract.
“All I got was, ‘We’ve made a decision to go in another direction,’” Hutton said. “They insisted it wasn’t about budget. I was surprised and shocked the way it was handled given the fact it was two months into the offseason and a couple days before Thanksgiving.”
Prior to joining the Marlins broadcast team in 1997, Hutton served as a game analyst for ESPN and worked for the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees in a similar role after spending 15 seasons as a first baseman and outfielder for four big league teams. Hutton, along with the late Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, were the only two analysts in the Marlins television booth during their 23 seasons in existence.
PJ Loyello, the team’s senior vice president of communications and broadcasting for the Marlins, said in response to Hutton’s departure, “It was a mutual decision between Fox and the ballclub and we decided to go in a different direction” (Miami Herald).
Fox wouldn’t comment beyond this statement: “This was a joint decision with the Marlins to move forward with a new color analyst beginning next season. We thank Tommy for his calls and contributions over the years at FOX Sports Florida.”
In an era of PR consciousness and public image, Hutton’s broadcasting style was representative of analysts from earlier time such as Tony Kubek and Tim McCarver, who believed their role required them to avoid bias when observing the situation on the field and express their honest opinions.
With more teams owning their own broadcast rights and producing games themselves, they expect their on-air personalities to serve as an extension of their PR departments and avoid any controversy of the home team.
Though the Marlins declined to offer any specific reason for Hutton’s termination, one could infer that the team plans to hire a voice with a different broadcasting style and perspective after 19 seasons.