The former Phillies and PiratesThe former Phillies and Piratesreliever discusses baseball,The former Phillies and Piratesreliever discusses baseball,education, and his secondThe former Phillies and Piratesreliever discusses baseball,education, and his secondcareer as a broadcaster During the Phillies' Golden Era of the late 1970s and early 1980s it always seemed as if Kent Tekulve had their number. The then-Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher regularly stifled the likes of Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose, Gary Maddox and Greg Luzinski. "Teke", who combined a menacing sidearm delivery with an intimidating gaze, meant certain doom for opposing batters when he arrived late in the game. Perhaps it was no coincidence when the Phillies traded fellow reliever Al Holland for Teke at the beginning of the 1985 season. Division-rival Pittsburgh's biggest pest to the Phillies was now a Phil himself. Tekulve was quite valuable during his four-year, 291 game stint with the Phils, winning 24 games and saving 25, primarily in the setup role. By the end of his career in 1989, Teke had pitched the second highest total of games in major-league history (1,013). Just as valuable to the club though, has been his presence in the broadcast booth. Upon joining the Phillies broadcast team in 1991, Teke became the color analyst in SportsChannel Philadelphia's first year of Phillies coverage. He remained at that helm until this year, when he was added to Prism broadcasts as well. A 1974 graduate of Marietta (Ohio) College, Teke is articulate and well-spoken. Whereas the stereotypical professional athlete today finds it difficult to formulate a sentence in proper English, Teke has a very intelligent disposition on the air. His mastery of pitching and the game of baseball, combined with his intellect, make Teke's color analysis of Phillies games a treasure to intelligent baseball fans. SP: How did you get your start in the broadcast world? KT: It was actually almost by mistake. At the beginning of the 1991 season, [now Phillies manager] Jim [Fregosi] was doing color analysis. When [then manager] Nick Leyva was fired and Jim was hired, that left a position in the broadcast booth open. I was one of the former players who they called immediately to fill-in as a replacement. SP: Was the transition from the pitcher's mound to the broadcast booth a tough one? KT: Aside from getting the mechanics of the actual broadcast down, the transition was not too tough for me. As a pitcher, you're basically doing the same thing as a broadcaster ---analyzing the situation at hand and acting upon it. You go through the same thought processes. The toughest thing though, is knowing when to shut up! (laughs) SP: How did you come into using your trademark sidearm pitching delivery? KT: I really never knew anything else. From the day my father put a baseball into my hand, I always threw that way. I figured, if it ain't broke, then don't fix it. SP: What major league pitchers did you look up to as a youngster? KT: The Dodgers' Don Drysdale was the biggest one I looked up to. Although I was from the Cincinnati area, I still loved Drysdale. As a kid, I thought I was just like him, aggressive and a side-armer. SP: What broadcasters did you look up to as a youngster? KT: The guy who did the Reds' broadcasts was my favorite, Waite Hoyt. He was so entertaining, especially during rain delays, when it's so tough to fill the empty time. My favorite today though, is [Phillies Hall of Fame centerfielder and current broadcasting colleague] Rich Ashburn. I have tapes of him at home from my playing days when he was commenting on how poor my hitting skills were. SP: Explain the camaraderie which exists among the Phillies broadcasters. KT: We all get along great, but my case is special. I came in stone-cold, without any prior broadcasting experience. [Longtime Phillies broadcaster] Andy Musser would constantly help me out and tell me what I was doing wrong, and never get frustrated. Andy's tolerance has made me into a better broadcaster. And from day one, I've been accepted by [Phillies broadcaster] Harry [Kalas] and Richie. SP: Is it difficult to be on the road, away from the family during the season? KT: Without the playoffs, the season is six months long, and if your family doesn't come to spring training, that's seven months. Half, of that time, you're on the road, at away games. Yes, it's very tough--it's the toughest part about the game. SP: Compare playing in Philadelphia versus playing in Pittsburgh. KT: The Phillies and the Pirates are totally different organizations. Whereas the Pirates were frugal and conservative, the Phillies are willing to spend money, and it's as if everyone from the bottom up is part of the organization -- like a big family. The atmosphere in Philly is much more friendly. People from the ground crew to ticket takers are treated like part of the family -- there are only a handful of teams in the big leagues that have this. SP: Although the '96 Phillies have been dubbed as a team without substantial chemistry, the relief pitchers are reportedly quite close. In your playing days, were you a member of close-knit bullpens? KT: Bullpens are always pretty tight. We were always really close, especially in Pittsburgh during our successful years. The guys in the Pirates bullpen whom I was particularly close with were Grant Jackson and Enrique Romo. SP: What has been your most memorable experience during your baseball life? KT: Throwing the last pitch to win the '79 World Series without a doubt. Every kid dreams of throwing a strikeout to clinch the World Series. Well, mine was a fly ball to the centerfielder, but it's something that I'll never forget! SP: Today, very few major leaguers attend college, let alone graduate. As a college graduate, explain the importance of higher education. KT: Bottom line, without graduating college, I wouldn't be a broadcaster today, I'd just be a retired major leaguer. I learned how to speak intelligently while at college, and that has helped me today. If you're 100% sure that you'll be a major leaguer, then there's no real reason to go to college, but almost no one has that luxury. In fact, I didn't even know if I'd make it to the pros. College is one thing, but that (Doug, SEAS '91, and current outfielder for the Chicago Cubs) Glanville from your school is too smart! (laughs) SP: Do you have any words to live by, which you would care to share with the students of The University of Pennsylvania? KT: Set your goals high. Don't ever let anyone convince you that you "can't." Have fun, or else you won't enjoy your success! Kent Tekulve is a truly remarkable individual. Although he got a late start on his career by remaining in college to graduate, there is to date only one pitcher who has appeared in more games than Teke. A 2.77 career earned-run average indicates that longevity, perseverance, and wisdom were not Teke's only assets as a player. Today, Teke is a favorite among Philadelphia sports journalists. Via his wit and friendly demeanor, Teke has gained the respect of all with whom he has come in contact with during this, his second career.Comments powered by Disqus
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