THE MAN MAKING THE CALLS

3 Jan

Happy Birthday to my fellow Roswellian, former UGA j-schooler, life-long Braves fan and all-around nice guy!

Does coming home to score a childhood dream job — and one of only 30 like it in the country — sound too good to be true? Well, let’s just say the Voice of the Braves, Jim Powell, always had a sporting chance. Our native son and soundtrack to summer gives you the truth from the booth and his take on some things outside of America’s and Atlanta’s pastime.

Jim Powell literally landed his dream job in 2009 when he returned to Atlanta from Milwaukee to be the radio play-by-play announcer for the Braves, his childhood, hometown team. As BLeeveBlog found out though, the views of the 25-year broadcasting veteran, former University of Georgia student and father of three daughters aren’t limited to just what happens between the white lines inside the ballpark.

Dawgs vs. Jackets

Of course, the man who attended UGA, met his wife in journalism school there and learned the radio ropes in Athens is going to favor the Bulldogs over their hated in-state rival, but the fair-minded broadcaster with the mellifluous voice isn’t likely to bark about it. After all, the rivalry hits closer to home than you might think.

“To be politically correct, both my parents went to Tech,” said Powell, whose brother-in-law also matriculated there. “We naturally have both sides covered. We root for Tech unless they’re playing Georgia.”

Dogs or Cats?

Both. With the newest acquisition — a cat named, of all things, Georgia — the Powell household is now only two animals short of a baseball-sized pet squad. For those of you scoring at home, the family’s cats outnumber the canines 5 to 2. Georgia has joined Opie, Simon, Missy and Spooky for a favored feline fivesome.

“Our daughters [Allie, Sabrina and Julia] just love the cats. We’re all big animal lovers,” Powell said. “My college cat, which lived into its 20s, just died a [few] years ago. If one of the girls turns out to not be squeamish, we could have a veterinarian on our hands, but that’s a big if.”

Jack and Mojo are the Powell family’s dogs.

Golf vs. Tennis and Radio vs. TV

Braves fans are no strangers to golf talk coming from the broadcast booth or amongst the team’s starting pitchers. Broadcasters and Braves hurlers, especially the staff stalwarts from the 1990s, certainly know where the prime golf courses are when the team’s on the road. But much fewer know of the Powells’ competitiveness and prowess on the tennis court, where wife Emmy has won a doubles championship at the highest level of the T2Tennis league.

“[Broadcast partner] Don Sutton loves his golf. I’m sure he did play with those guys — Glavine, Maddux and Smoltz,” Powell said. “He’s played so much golf he doesn’t talk much about it. He tells me when he loses money to the TV guys and I’ve got an issue with that. You know, we’ve got a certain standard on the radio side, so when he gets on the bus to go to the stadium and he tells me they got into his pocket that day, he and I have to have a little chat. None of those TV guys dare play tennis or I’d be in their pockets.”

Caller IDs Best Broadcast Moments in Braves and MLB history

It’s forever fodder for fans debating the best teams, players and plays in the game’s history. What about the best broadcast calls though? A man with many memorable moments behind the mic himself voiced his opinion.

“I think when Sid Bream slid in [in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS] and Skip Caray screamed, ‘Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!'” There’s nothing that any Braves fan can compare with that,” Powell said. “There have been other very good calls, but that was just the [top] moment… As for best baseball calls of all-time for me, particularly of the ones that I heard live would be the Kirk Gibson homerun [for the Dodgers in the 1988 World Series]. The ‘I cannot believe what I just saw’ [line by Jack Buck] was just a fantastic call. Vince Scully’s [radio] call of that was also great.”

Which Hall of Fame Partner does Powell most like behind the Mic?

Powell not only fulfilled his childhood dream by returning to Atlanta to call Braves games, he also went from one Hall of Fame broadcast partner to another — Radio Hall of Famer and legendary funnyman Bob Uecker in Milwaukee to MLB Hall of Famer and pitching great Sutton back in his hometown. As for playing careers, there’s no comparison between the lifetime .200 hitting catcher and the 324-game winning pitcher, but how do they stack up as broadcast partners?

“Occasionally, I’ll kidnap [my daughters] throughout the season and bring them to the games,” Powell said. “They’ll hang in the booth. Ueck was great with the kids, and Don is also very family-oriented, loves kids and he’s got a school-aged daughter [as well].”

“I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with how easily Don and I were able to form chemistry and work together and really enjoy baseball. He and I are different in many ways, including generational, but we love baseball and we love families. With that, we built the fabric of our relationship. He was really good to work with. I was just anxious as I’m sure Don was. He sacrificed a lot to get back here to this job. His actions speak volumes.”

Added Powell’s wife, Emmy, “Of course when Jim worked with Bob [Uecker], it was nothing but one funny thing after the other.”

Luck vs. Design

Powell, the 1998 Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year, likes to quote legendary baseball man, Branch Rickey, when discussing the twists, turns and occasional favorable bounce in a career path… or in life in general. “Luck is the residue of design,” affirmed the baseball visionary and executive, who signed Jackie Robinson to his first professional contract in 1945. How do those two things relate to the Voice of the Braves?

“I always told Emmy I could end up selling insurance or who knows what because there are only 30 jobs [in the major leagues], there’s only 30 booths. I wasn’t a huge believer in fate and all that. I tend to believe you make your own breaks. People who want to give too much credit to fate also give themselves an excuse to not do everything to take care of their own end. If you believe too much of the ‘whatever happens happens,’ then you don’t do the design that helps get you the residue of luck. Having said all that, after all the dominos fell in [early 2009], it’s almost unthinkable to me that’d we be in this position. To get one Major League job was like we won the lottery. What are the odds that you win the lottery? One in 80 gazillion?!? Now what are the odds that you get another job but it’s the Braves job? I mean that was my childhood [dream]. I give all the credit to a higher power. We’ve been blessed.”

Powell points at his first prime-time moment at a Braves game... as a kid decades ago at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

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2 Responses to “THE MAN MAKING THE CALLS”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] guy is almost totally convinced that radio is worthless, with very few exceptions such as NPR and this fine fellow. I can almost feel America getting dumber anytime I mistakenly listen to a DJ spout some inane […]

  2. Top 5 Memories at Turner Field | bleeveblog - October 30, 2016

    […] happened 16 rows or so in front of me and three buddies, who were perfectly positioned in the Voice of the Braves’ seats: the Braves rallied from a 6-0 deficit against two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy […]

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