Dodgers decide on Eric Collins as its new play-by-play fill-in

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A local voice? Naw.

Someone from Chicago.

Eric Collins, who called baseball during NBC’s Olympics and has worked at ESPN doing college football and basketball, was picked by the Dodgers to do play-by-play on the 40-some TV games this season in place of Vin Scully when the team is playing East of the Rockies.

The 39-year-old Collins has also called College World Series telecasts and USA women’s softball games. Last season, he filled in on Chicago White Sox games.

Collins came to ESPN from ABC where he also worked as a college football play-by-play commentator (2002-03). Prior to ABC, Collins worked for Fox Sports, calling NFL Europe games (2002) and DePaul and Horizon League basketball games (2000-04), while also serving as an anchor and reporter (1996-02). Collins was also the radio voice of the Schaumburg Flyers (Ill.) of the Northern League Baseball (1999-2001).

Collins will work with Steve Lyons and replaces Charley Steiner, who’ll work exclusively on the KABC-AM (790) broadcasts with Rick Monday.

Candidates for the job who were invited to spring training to team up with Lyons on games to see how they fared included both Josh Suchon and Ken Levine, who do the DodgerTalk show for KABC, as well as Ben Wagner, Tom Hart and Joe Block.

Collins’ resume is enough to make him a fine candidate for the position. But, if you’re the Dodgers, would you not have tried to make it someone more familiar to the L.A. audience? Suchon or Levine would have made perfect sense, aside from what we already campaigned for — trying Jeanne Zelasko out for the spot. It’s only 40 games. There are plenty of talented people working in L.A. who know the team, its nuances, don’t have to flip through a media guide to cram for the games, and could add some context to situations that will come up that, frankly, someone consumed in another city with other teams just won’t have.

It’ll come up during the season again. We’re sure Collins again is a fine hire. If you’re ESPN looking for a West Coast guy to call some MLB games. Not so much if you’re the Dodgers trying to connect with a fan base.

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  • Talking Paul

    The Dodgers have chosen the best candidate for their vacant 40-game road TV package. Eric Collins is an impressive broadcasting talent with a resume that shows he has more than enough experience to work along side Steve Lyons on the telecasts. I first met Eric many years ago when I was doing play by play for Tampa Bay. When the Rays played the White Sox, Eric was there to cover the game as a reporter/host for the Sox. We talked a lot about the proper way to broadcast a baseball game. At that time, he hadn’t much experience doing baseball. He’s more than made up for it since. Don’t forget some of the most notable southern California broadcasters – me included – have either hailed from or cut their broadcasting teeth in Illinois. Chick Hearn, Tom Kelley and Raplh Lawler to name a few. So Eric’s “outsider” status shouldn’t be a concern. And I commend the Dodgers for hiring a minority broadcaster for such a coveted position. Aside from Seattle’s Dave Sims, Eric Collins will be only the second play by play announcer of African-American descent to be working on a local level in the Major Leagues.

    Paul Olden KNX 1070 News Radio

  • para’s

    Count me as someone who’s happy Jeanne Zelasko did not get the job. She’s a PADRE fan and we do not need PADRE fan as our announcer.

    I predict Eric Collins will be a huge success.

  • laprguy2

    Great note from Paul Olden. Sounds like a winner.

    However …

    - One wonders whether the hiring of a Chicago-based announcer is another way to save travel $$.

    - One wonders whether Collins is overqualified to be working alongside Steve Lyons.

    - One wonders aloud – in all seriousness – whether the job is underpaying the candidates (remember Eric Karros’ comments from a few years back?).

  • gregb

    For those who watched Northridge’s victory in the Big West Tournament, heard Eric. I was working next to him as his stats guy. A good person without a tremendous ego. Once he learns a bit about SoCal, he should fit in perfectly.

    Good luck, Eric.