So friends, Romans, countrymen, and baseball fans ... lend me your ears.
The Brewers lost a little bit of their soul when they let Daron fly off into free agent play by play land. Everyone is saying nice things the day after, and it doesn't pay to get into any contract tug o’ war discussions between the team and the voice.
But the bottom line? The Brewers let Sutton slip away. They had two seasons to get the TV voice of the Brewers the past five years locked and loaded for another five years, or beyond. Apparently, those are small potatoes on the Brewers’ plate. The new regime didn't bother to move with any urgency when the play by play guy himself initiated the opening round of talks in 2005.
What a shame. When Matt Vasgersian took his shtick to sunny San Diego, you wondered if a suitable replacement could fill his shoes. I remember being in the FSN North production truck on Opening Day 2002. Daron jumped right in and did his own thing. He didn't try to mimic Matt. He was comfortable and concise, knowledgeable and clever. His baseball brain was always ticking, and his charm and wit over the air were genuine.
He wasn't just a talking head from SoCal that plopped himself and his family in Wisconsin for a rest stop, until the next stop. Daron got a taste of life in the Midwest when his father, Don, pitched for the Brewers during the World Series run. A batboy back in the '80s, Don’s son felt he had come full circle, and sensed he was back "home" in Milwaukee.
You could hear the passion in his calls, but what you didn't see was his gyrations in the booth. I always admired the fact that Daron not only bellowed out a home run call, but would stand up and pump his fists in sheer delight. He would shout and clap, wave his arms and flash the biggest smile when the team, HIS team, won a game. He cared. Deeply.
Daron knew that he wasn't the show. He was keen to the fact that the game, the players, the atmosphere -- they were all the stars. He was just taking it all in and trying to add flavor to the mix. This is a Sutton strength. He shifts gears as good as anyone in the business; talking serious baseball one minute, wrestling with the Cincinnati mascot, Mr. Red, in the booth the next. We always knew that the waning hours before the first pitch, not to bother Daron, as he zeroed in on his final moments of preparation.
But he retains the perspective that this is still a game, meant to be played and relished during the summertime fun, and so he picked his spots to engage in story telling between all the runs, hits and errors.
When he and Bill Schroeder hatched Daron and Bill’s Buckethead Brigade, they never knew it would turn into the kitschy thing that it is, but probably now, was. With a simple discussion about the size of guys "melons," including their own, the men behind the mic created a monster. It was an outlet of Daron’s passion -- a representation of who he is. If he wasn't "tied up" in one of his bright colored shirt and necktie combos, Daron would have been right there with everyone else in Section 232. The Bucketheads stuffed it full of fun and it became a coveted ticket. During the game, the group poked fun at itself, got rowdy, and had a blast. But the Bucketheads also paid closer attention than any other fan that night in Miller Park. Daron helped put butts in the seats that would normally never be there on a Tuesday night.
The Brewers players and coaches respected him. They knew Daron would give them a fair shake and wasn't out to "get" them. That didn't mean he tossed softball questions at these hardball players. Daron is upfront with them, and in turn, the players responded accordingly.
I suspect Daron is at peace with this finality. He'll unplug his laptop, pack up his scorebook and move onto the next MLB stop. But his family stays behind. Sutton made it clear a long time ago that this was home, even if the home team he covers is thousands of miles away.
On a personal note, I will never have the pleasure of being with a co-worker quite as good as Daron Sutton. He was accepting of my sideline reporting antics. I remember many times where my 30-second report turned into an inning-long discussion on the air. He was complimentary to an extreme, always praising me, Bill, Craig and our producers and crew for pertinent points pointed out.
Daron Sutton GETS it!
Now, someone else gets his talented baseball services. The Brewers loss will be the Diamondbacks or some other team’s gain. Small-market thinking is alive and well at One Miller Park Way.
Bob currently does play-by-play at Time Warner Cable Sports 32, calling Wisconsin Timber Rattlers games in Appleton as well as the area high school football and basketball scene. During an earlier association with FS Wisconsin, his list of teams and duties have included the Packers, Bucks, Brewers and the WIAA State Championships.
During his life before cable, Bob spent seven seasons as a reporter and producer of "Preps Plus: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel High School Sports Show."
And the joke is, Bob has a golf shirt from all four Milwaukee television stations. Sad, but true: Bob has had sports and news anchor/reporter/producer stints at WTMJ, WISN, WDJT and WITI.
His first duty out of college (UW-Oshkosh) was radio and TV work in Eau Claire. Bob spent nearly a decade at WEAU-TV as a sports director and reporter.
You may have heard Bob's pipes around town as well. He has done play-by-play for the Milwaukee Mustangs, Milwaukee Iron, and UW-Milwaukee men's and women's basketball. Bob was the public address announcer for five seasons for both the Marquette men and women's basketball squads. This season, you can catch the starting lineups of the UW-Milwaukee Panther men's games with Bob behind the mic.
A Brookfield Central graduate, Bob's love and passion for sports began at an early age, when paper football leagues, and Wiffle Ball All Star Games were all the rage in the neighborhood.