They've been together in TV and radio booths for eight seasons, but Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, the Giants' broadcast team on Fox Sports Net Bay Area, called their first games 16 years ago in the San Francisco dugout. Because Kuiper, a utility infielder, was mainly a pinch hitter by then and Krukow only worked every few days as a starting pitcher, they would huddle on the bench and provide an inning or two of impromptu, comedy-filled commentary. "We would make sure to include anybody who was around us in our play-by-play, too," says Krukow. "Especially this one guy, Rick?' Adams, who was the 25th man on the team. By the end of every broadcast we had somehow made him into the next Babe Ruth. He loved it."
Now Kipe and Kruke are making their audience laugh as one of the top local baseball broadcast teams in the country. (Dish owners can sample their telecasts on DirecTV and DISH Network.) "People respond to them because they're totally natural on the air," says Jon Miller, who also does Giants radio and TV in addition to ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. "A lot of former players can't do that."
The two have divergent broadcasting personalities. Play-by-play man Kuiper, 51, has a fluid, deadpan delivery and what Miller calls "that booming John Wayne voice." In addition to being a sharp analyst, Krukow, 49, who had a 124-117 record in 13 major league seasons, is the clown, a bit of a homer who isn't afraid to rib his partner. "When you have one home run in 12 seasons," says Krukow, alluding to Kuiper's power number, "the door is wide, wide open."
Early in a recent broadcast from Pac Bell Park of a Giants' game against the Diamondbacks, Krukow focused on a key factor to watch: San Francisco starter Livan Hernandez's fastball. "If the velocity is between 86 and 88 [mph], it sets up all his other pitches," Krukow said. "If the velocity is down at 84, it can be a tough night for him."
Hernandez's first two fastballs clocked in at 88, and he went on to pitch seven innings of two-hit ball in a 1-0 Giants win. The tight game didn't curtail the pair's comedy shtick, which featured a running commentary on a child in the stands wearing his glove on his head. "His parents will have to have that removed when he's six," said Krukow.
Although both could easily work national games, they're content to stay by the Bay. "I'm having too much fun," says Krukow. "I know I'm going to go to work every day and laugh my ass off 10 times. What could be better than that?"