A new voice was in the radio booth for the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night. It was just one game, three innings to be exact, but for Tom Nichols it was a dream come true.
After 31 years in the minor leagues and broadcasting his 4,000th game earlier in August, the radio voice of Cincinnati’s Class A affiliate, the Dayton Dragons, got the call to the big leagues.
“Once you enter the business, you’re just looking for that opportunity to work in the big leagues,” Nichols told Ryan O’Gara of the Muncie Star Press. “That ship has sailed. I’m 54 years old now, so it’s unlikely I’ll get a full-time MLB job at this point based on that they are looking for younger guys now.
“The fact that it’s happening now might mean even more, because it’s happening at a time where it’s pretty clear the minor leagues are pretty much as far as I’ll go.”
Nichols joined Marty Brennaman and analyst Jeff Brantley on the Cincinnati Reds Radio Network in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings on Tuesday. For Nichols, who grew up listening to Brennaman, the voice of the Reds since 1974, it was important to finally get the opportunity to be heard in the Majors.
“It’s important to me because I’ve put so much of my life into this career,” Nichols said. “I think it’s similar to Moonlight Graham, the character in (the movie) ‘Field of Dreams’ who played one inning but never got to bat.
“It’s only one game, but it will mean a lot to me. I’ve ridden the buses and called the games. Now I get to sit in an MLB broadcast booth.”
Unbeknownst to Nichols, after he called his 4,000th career minor league game, the Dragons and Reds were working on a plan for the broadcaster to get his big league opportunity. Nichols fittingly joined the Reds Radio Network on an off-day for the Dragons. Prior to missing 15 games with kidney stones last year, Nichols called 27 consecutive minor league seasons without missing a day of work.
Even though he’s working for his seventh team in the minors and has gone 31 years without getting a call to the big leagues, Nichols still never wavered on his career choice.
“It’s been the best career for me, honestly,” Nichols said. “People have asked me that lately, did you ever think about just quitting and getting a different job? For me, this was the right career, whether it was major league or minor league. It was the correct career path, whether I get to MLB or not, and it was worth it. It’s something I’ve enjoyed entire career, and that’s why I continue to do it after 31 years.”
Nichols first major league opportunity went in the books as a win as the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 9-7.
Dan Patrick: ‘I Want Buccaneer Tom, Not Patriot Tom On Fox’
“‘Buccaneer Tom’ is ‘Vacation Tom.’ That guy’s having a good time.”
A lot of people have compared the deal FOX signed with Tom Brady to the one NBC signed with Drew Brees before the former Saints quarterback finished his playing days. FOX is set to pay Brady $375 million for his services. That means the network better be right about their faith in the quarterback.
Drew Brees faced a lot of criticism this year. Some have speculated that the reason he is not joining Mike Tirico in the Sunday Night Football booth this season is that he is too boring to be the network’s league analyst.
Dan Patrick says he has a similar concern about Tom Brady. Landing the greatest quarterback of all time is a win for FOX, but we have seen two very different Tom Bradys in his career. If the wrong one shows up, Patrick says this investment could be a disaster for FOX.
“I worry sometimes that if we get ‘Patriot Tom’ instead of ‘Buccaneer Tom,’” Dan Patrick said on his Wednesday show. “‘Buccaneer Tom’ is ‘Vacation Tom.’ That guy’s having a good time. ‘Two-Drink Tommy;’ that I like. But if he does the Patriot Way, that’s not going to be good.”
As he has gotten older, Tom Brady has been more willing to show off his personality. Most famously, he cut loose at the boat parade celebrating the Tampa’s Super Bowl title in 2021.
Dan Patrick wondered if Tom Brady would be aware of the standard for succes in broadcasting. Would he know that entertainment matters? He pointed out that Brady’s social media accounts tend to be pretty funny, but they are likely either manned or at least aided by staff writers.
“Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you can tell us how to do it, and I think that is gonna be the interesting part,” Patrick said.
Travis Rodgers: ‘Celebrities At SoFi Stadium Make Rams A Better Primetime Fit For NFL’
“You go to a game and it’s, ‘Wow, there’s LeBron; there’s DiCaprio; there’s this.’ Damn, what more can you ask for from this franchise?”
Tuesday on 710 ESPN Radio Los Angeles, Travis and Sliwa discussed how the NFL is consistently able to fabricate non-game events into must-follow action, generating ratings and revenue during the nearly seven-month long offseason. The special promoting the release of the full 2022 season schedule is on Thusday night is a good example..
“I’m sure we’re going to be 10 weeks into the NFL season [and say], ‘Man, that team didn’t turn out the way we thought it would,’ [or] ‘Oh, that team is better than we thought it’s going to be,’” said show co-host Allen Sliwa. “That’s what kind of makes this part of the year sort of exciting – that you start finding out what the matchups are.”
Nonetheless, the NFL has been able to captivate fans through making a spectacle of offseason events. This includes the impending primetime television schedule release special by the league, rather than simply divulging the week-by-week matchups with minimal grandeur and melodrama.
“They’re so good at turning things that aren’t games into things,” said show co-host Travis Rodgers. “The draft is a huge thing; the combine is a thing; the schedule release is a thing; free agency is a thing; training camps are a thing.”
While the NFL schedule may not yet be fully released, some primetime matchups have been announced in advance, potentially to pique the interest of fans, media partners and the players themselves. It is safe to say that the defending Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams will receive much of the primetime action across the NFL’s remodeled slate of broadcasts during the 2022 season. In fact, it was recently announced that the Rams will be playing on Christmas Day against Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos on a game simulcast on CBS and Paramount+, along with the inclusion of a special viewing presentation on Nickelodeon sure to include the network’s signature slime.
Aside from the team’s success on the field though, there exist other reasons why the current moment is an opportune time to schedule the Rams to play games in primetime.
“I’m telling you – the Rams are really good,” said Rodgers. “They play in a place that’s got great visuals. There’s going to be celebrities in the stands. A brand new stadium. Everybody likes coming to L.A. This is the place you’re going to have people come over and over.”
It was not always guaranteed that the NFL would be willing to return to the City of Angels, and if the league would be welcomed back. Yet since the construction of the $5.5 billion-SoFi Stadium complete with NFL Network studios within new league headquarters combined with the early success of both the Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, the reincarnation of football in southern California has been largely prosperous thus far.
“It’s almost like icing on the cake,” said Sliwa. “The NFL is the NFL either way. But the brand the Rams have created over a short period of time, and… the visuals. You go to a game and it’s, ‘Wow, there’s LeBron; there’s DiCaprio; there’s this.’ Damn, what more can you ask for from this franchise?”
Tom Millikan Upped To APD of 97.1 The Ticket
“Listeners might not agree with my opinions or show content all of the time, but I genuinely try to produce shows that Detroit sports fans want every single day.”
Congratulations are in order for Tom Millikan. The executive producer of The Morning Show with Stoney and Jansen has been promoted to assistant program director of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit.
“Tom has done an outstanding job as an executive producer and has played a vital role in the success of the station,” said Debbie Kenyon, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, Audacy Detroit. “He is very deserving of this promotion and we look forward to even greater success with Tom in his new role.”
Millikan has been a steady presence in Detroit sports talk since 1998. He has been with The Ticket since 2012. In that time, he has served as an affiliate relations manager for coverage of the Detroit Tigers, Lions, Red Wings and Pistons. He has also been involved with Michigan Wolverines broadcasts on sister station WWJ AM.
“Throughout my twenty plus years in radio, I’ve been blessed with countless memories of championships and pure joy,” said Millikan. “I’m living out a dream. I wanted to work in sports radio since the format exploded in the early 90s and I’ve been blessed by the tutelage of all of my co-workers and peers. I was born and raised in Detroit and Detroit sports are part of my DNA. Listeners might not agree with my opinions or show content all of the time, but I genuinely try to produce shows that Detroit sports fans want every single day.”