Neil Walker draws rave reviews after Pirates broadcasting debut

By all accounts, Neil Walker’s debut as a Pirates broadcaster was a success.

Walker drew rave reviews on social media for his work behind the microphone Saturday when the Pirates split a day-night doubleheader with the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park. The team also was pleased with his performance.

“It was a long day, emotionally and mentally, with everything from pitch to pitch, to at-bat to at-bat to inning to inning,” the former Pirates second baseman said Sunday before the Pirates and Brewers completed their three-game series.

“I thought the second game was a lot cleaner than the first game. I felt a lot more comfortable and confident after doing the first game.”

One aspect of broadcasting that always affects rookie announcers to some degree is having directors and producers talking into their earpiece during the game. Walker was no different in that regard.

Walker also said he had to make sure to be economical with his words so he did not talk over play-by-play man Greg Brown.

“Having someone in your ear takes some getting used to, and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t necessarily react to everything I saw on the field,” Walker said. “If I’m sitting watching a game at home, especially by myself, I’m mumbling ‘why did you swing at that?’ or ‘why did you throw that pitch?’ Gathering my thoughts and verbalizing them (concisely) is something I tried to do.”

The Pine-Richland graduate also will work the six games on the Pirates’ final homestand from Sept. 28-Oct. 3 against the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds.

The groundwork for Walker eventually joining the broadcast team was laid nearly two years ago when he was playing for the Miami Marlins and they played the Pirates in September at PNC Park. Walker and Pirates senior vice president of public relations and broadcasting Brian Warecki had a conversation about the possibility of joining the organization.

Walker played one more season before retiring in February.

“I enjoy talking about baseball, and I feel I can kind of put things happening on the field into context to some degree,” Walker said. “Hopefully, I can continue to do well.”

John Perrotto is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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