The Veteran Tribe Sportscaster Talks Players, Fans & Chief Wahoo
Indians fans fall into two categories: Those who love watching baseball, and those who love listening to it.
If you’re in the second group, then Tom Hamilton needs no introduction. The veteran radio play-by-play announcer for the Indians has been thrilling, educating and entertaining Indians fans since 1990. Each home game starts with Hamilton’s signature “And we’re underway at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.” Suddenly, everything is right with the world.
The Voice of the Indians is joined in the booth by Jim Rosenhaus for all 162 regular season games and each spring training game. Fans can listen on Newsradio WTAM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7 and the Indians Radio Network.
I had a chance to talk to the affable Hamilton and ask him a few questions to get fans ready for the season.
- Will the Indians get to the World Series this year?
I think each team is unique. We’re a club that’s been in the playoffs two years in a row. Who knows if that sustained run of success like we saw in the ’90s will continue, but we have a chance.
- Speaking of the 1990s, how does this team stack up compared to the Jim Thome-era Indians?
Frankie Lindor, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer — these guys are among the very best in all of baseball, and it’s the common denominator with the ’90s, we have that here again. How good will these guys be? That’s why we play the game.
- We had a slow off-season. How does that bode for us this year?
It was one of the slowest off-seasons in recent memory. The Indians don’t need a lot of changes or additions. If you get (Michael) Brantley and (Lonnie) Chisenhall and (Bradley) Zimmer healthy, (Jason) Kipnis, then you’ve got what you need offensively. I think the biggest loss is Bryan Shaw because of how important he was to the Indians bullpen. Brandon Guyer was hurt all year. That’s always the big question in sports, health.
- How many wins will we need to take the Central Division?
The one thing they have in their favor is three teams — Kansas City, Detroit and Chicago — are rebuilding. Minnesota is really good and young. Right now you’re either a contender or in a long-term rebuild. To win the division, they’ll need to win at least 93 games.
- Any series you’re looking forward to?
It will be fun for me to go back to Wrigley Field and play the Cubs. I’m from Wisconsin, so it’s fun to go back to Milwaukee. And any time you get to play the Yankees, it’s fun.
- Jim Thome got into the Hall of Fame this year. Thoughts?
I’m absolutely thrilled. He is one of my all-time favorite players and he’s one of the finest human beings I’ve ever met. It’s so appropriate (because) he’s a true Cleveland Indians player developed through the system.
- Shortstop Omar Vizquel didn’t get in on his first time. Should there be any changes so defensive players have a better shot at the HOF?
Omar should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Omar had 2,800 career hits; he was a tremendous hitter and hit second. Sometimes we turn it into the Hall of Offensive Numbers.
- You’re known as a straight-shooter when it comes to calling a game. If a player on another team is doing a terrific job, you say so.
The Indians have never told me — and plenty of broadcasters have been told — to be a hometown cheerleader. To me, if that’s what you’re doing, you have no credibility. The most important thing for my job is to point out facts.
- Who do you like to listen to?
With satellite radio I listen to everyone. Everyone has their own style. I especially like Marty Brennaman with the Reds. He’s a Hall of Famer and is a great sounding board. He’s really helpful to all of us. There’s always things that pop up and (you wonder) how to handle a call.
- Chief Wahoo. Yes or no?
There are three things I never talk about: religion, politics and Chief Wahoo.