Some sad news to report – longtime Indians broadcaster Mike Hegan passed away at the age of 71 this morning. Hegan, who had worked as an Indians broadcaster since 1989, stepped down from his full-time roll as the radio partner to Tom Hamilton after the 2011 season.
As a fan, one of my favorite broadcast teams of all time was Hegan and Hamilton. I think you tend to gravitate toward the broadcasters that you either listen to growing up, or perhaps the ones you pay attention to once you really start to appreciate the game. I know folks that still fondly remember Jack Graney, one of the first players to move to the broadcasting end of the game. Others talk about Herb Score, who retired after the 1997 season. For me, I never fully appreciated listening to broadcasters (particularly on the radio) until I was a little older. I really took to the combination of Hegan and Hamilton on the radio; I loved Hamilton’s exuberance and Hegan’s more straight-laced knowledge and insight. I felt like I always learning something new when I listened to them, and I think that’s one of the marks of a great broadcaster. That, and someone that can really bring what’s happening on the field to life. You don’t even need to see what’s going on, because it’s described so colorfully and so succinctly.
Hegan wasn’t a stranger to the playing side of the game – he started his career with the New York Yankees in 1964 and also played for the Seattle Pilots, Milwaukee Brewers, and Oakland Athletics. Hegan won a World Series ring with the Athletics in 1972; his dad Jim Hegan had also won a World Series with the Indians in 1948.
One of my fond memories of Hegan (and Hamilton) was during the 2007 postseason. I couldn’t stand listening to the Tim McCarver-Joe Buck team on television, so I would mute my TV and listen to the Indians radio broadcast instead. There was a slight delay on the television, so I would hear what was happening before I could see it. I didn’t care, because it was still worth it to listen to Hegan and Hamilton. We later went and watched away games at Progressive Field, since they would properly sync the television broadcast on the scoreboard with the audio.
Even though I like Jim Rosenhaus, I was very disappointed when Hegan retired. He came back as a substitute (with Rosenhaus) in 2012, but otherwise he broadcasting days were over. It made me very sad to read that he passed away this morning. Even though we won’t get to hear him broadcast another game, his memory will live on with some of our favorite Indians games of the past.
Please feel free to share some of your favorite memories of Hegan (or any broadcaster, really) in the comments.