Twins Talk, September 16 16 Sep 16

TWINS TALK

Stories and Photos by Gordy Jones

Attaboy, Atteberry!

One of the most pleasant sounds of summer, to my ears, is the radio broadcast of a baseball game, especially while picnicking, doing outdoor work, or just enjoying an evening beverage. It dates back to my childhood, when my dad and I would play catch on a freshly mown lawn, while listening to the cackles of Halsey Hall and the smooth delivery of Herb Carneal as they would describe the mighty swing of Harmon Killebrew and the acrobatic defensive moves of Zoilo Versalles.

I’ve been getting that flashback on these beautiful late-summer evenings, as I listen to the play-by-play of Cory Provus, and Dan Gladden giving his no-holds-barred explanations of why things happen as they do. Danny is a former hard-nosed player who’s been there and done that. Gladden and Provus paint a vivid picture of the game, even as they go off script at times and have some laughs.   

But there is a third familiar voice on the radio, in addition to Gladden and Provus. It is a voice that, whenever I hear it, makes me think about baseball. Even when I hear it in person in the media dining room at Target Field. It is the voice of broadcaster Kris Atteberry. Kris probably gets more airtime than anybody. You’ll hear him doing the pregame show, reporting major league scores between innings, giving minor league updates, hosting a baseball book review and interview show during a rain delay, and, finally, hosting the Twins’ Postgame Download show. Besides all that, he is the backup broadcaster for Dan and Cory and calls about 40 games each season. His play-by-play includes a complete and colorful description of the game. He’ll let you know the colors of the uniforms, where the shadows are lying, wind speed and direction, and also give you the full picture of every play. He has an average voice, but uses it well, speaking clearly and distinctly.

I sat in the Twins’ dugout with Kris the other night before the game and learned a few things about his background. I had been thinking about how I know most of the broadcasters’ history, but I knew nothing about Kris, whom I probably listen to and talk to more than other broadcasters. I found out that he went to a one-room school house in Bozeman, Montana until eighth grade. He loved baseball, but his school didn’t have enough players to form a team. They did play ball at gym and recess, but there was no right field. Where right field would’ve been was a cow pasture. Kris was the only left-handed batter, and it was difficult not to hit into the pasture. If he did, he had to retrieve his own ball. He said that many times he’d return to class with green muck on his feet. 

Kris attended Stanford, where he earned a degree in English Literature, as well as a National Association of Athletic Directors post-graduate scholarship for his broadcast work with Cardinal athletics. He has broadcast basketball for Cal State Fullerton, basketball, volleyball, and baseball for Pepperdine University, and football and basketball for Montana State, where he twice won the Montana Sportscaster of the Year Award. He broadcast the St. Paul Saints’ games for five years and the Sioux Falls Canaries for three years before joining the Twins’ broadcast team, where he’s in his ninth year.

Kris, who has a calming voice, is calm and cool in person, as well. He’s a great guy, and he has a great rapport with the players, staff, and media. He and his wife Jennifer, and daughter, Jessica, live in south Minneapolis. He loves to hunt and fish, and he recently bought a kayak in which he and his daughter spend time together as they paddle it around Lake Harriet. He enjoys being on the road, especially for the dining, museums, and historical tours. Recently, Kris has taken up the guitar. He told me, “I find myself going to a lot of music and guitar stores lately. Life on the road is great, except for missing my family. My daughter is just starting third grade, and she hates when I leave. But I told her that when the season’s over, you’ll get double time with me.”       

 A New Viking Fan Who Likes to Fish!

I always enjoy talking to Twins relief pitcher Ryan O’Rourke. He always has something interesting to say. The Massachusetts native is always telling me how he loves Target Field, Twins fans, and the Twin Cities. I recently asked him if he’s going directly home after the season. He smiled as he said, “I might stick around here for a few extra days. There are some things I’ve been wanting to do and see here. I want to go fishing on Lake Minnetonka. But I really want to go to a Vikings game. I think I’ll go October 3rd. I want to see U.S. Bank Stadium!”