With just six weeks left in the 2015 major league baseball season, longtime beloved Red Sox broadcaster Don Orsillo received some terrible news: NESN was not going to renew his contract after the season. In other words, he was fired.
Sox fans were heartbroken.
Don was such a likable presence on the air, and because of that, fans showered Orsillo with love.
“[The reaction of the fans] was really incredible,” Orsillo said during a recent interview in San Diego, where he is now the television voice of the Padres. “I thank everybody [in New England] for everything they did and said for the last couple of weeks there. You know, I found out with six weeks left to go in the season so it was a tough six weeks for me personally, but the fans were incredible to me and I am so thankful for everything. … I grew up there, so it was a place for me that was very much a home, but yeah, it was incredible, and I never really knew people felt that way. It was great.”
Orsillo and Jerry Remy were the one thing that kept fans watching the games if the Sox were not playing well. You would not turn off your television during a Red Sox game because you could potentially miss the next hysterical moment between Don and Jerry. If the game was a blowout, that is when Don and Jerry’s banter became must-watch television.
Whether it was the pizza throwing incident, Don and Jerry dancing, or Orsillo’s infectious laugh, the duo of Don and Remy made the viewer laugh every single night.
Although Don and Jerry are no longer in the booth together, Orsillo said the duo remain in constant contact.
“We text every day,” Orsillo said. “He is one of my best friends. I have a pretty small circle of friends — I mean, you have a lot of friends in the game, but Jerry and I text every day so it’s continued, which has been nice.”
Orsillo has the perfect combination of personality, baseball knowledge, passion for the game, and broadcasting ability. Because he is from New England, viewers knew that he was a Red Sox fan. As a Red Sox broadcaster, he would react with genuine excitement during big moments. From his characteristic comment, “Fenway stands as one,” to a big home run call, he always captured the emotion of the park.
For example, one of Orsillo’s most memorable calls was outfielder Daniel Nava’s go-ahead home run on April 20, 2013, a few days after the Boston Marathon Bombing.
Since Orsillo left the booth and was replaced by radio play-by-play man Dave O’Brien in 2016, the broadcasts have not been the same.
Don’t get me wrong — “O.B.” is a great play-by-play broadcaster. And it really isn’t fair to compare him to Don, because very few announcers have Orsillo’s personality and such a loyal following built up over 15 years.
I don’t remember the last time that I laughed while watching a baseball game. When Don was broadcasting the games, it seemed like it happened every night.
After Orsillo left NESN, he decided to accept a job as the new Padres play-by-play man.
“When my time in Boston ended, there were teams that were kind of interested,” Orsillo said. “This one jumped out at me and they have been great to me, and the last couple of years have been a lot of fun. … I like it a lot”
Orsillo is from New England, but he went to high school in Palos Verde, California. Therefore, he “had a little bit of an idea what Southern California was going to be like.”
Although the Padres and the Red Sox seem like completely different franchises, Orsillo said that the Padres fan base reminds him of Red Sox Nation before the Sox won the World Series in 2004.
“They are thirsty,” Orsillos said. “It kind of reminds me before the Red Sox won in ’04, because they have never won and to have that same kind of [feeling] whenever it happens here is going to be incredible.”
“And they are headed in the right direction,” Orsillo added. “They have so many guys coming up through the system right now. … It’s going to be a lot of fun here.”
Orsillo is still missed in Boston, but it is good to see that he has found a new home in San Diego. Now it is Padres fans, not Red Sox Nation, who get to enjoy his fantastic laugh, his great walk-off calls, and his on-air dance moves.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxXXdpEHkqY