10:35 PM EST, January 31, 2013
The guy on the stage last week conducting the question-and-answer session with front-office personnel, players and manager Charlie Manuel at the Phillies Winter Banquet may not have been instantly recognizable to the 1,100 people gathered at the Sands Event Center.
But once he began talking, most area baseball fans recognized the voice of Scott Franzke, who is about to begin his eighth season as the radio play-by-play man of the Phillies.
While no one will ever replace the duo of Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn in the hearts, minds and ears of Phillies fans, Franzke and Larry Andersen have become a popular pairing in the radio booth as the two have established the same type of easy-going rapport so evident in the Kalas/Ashburn era.
Franzke often plays straight-man to the sometimes off-the-wall Andersen, but the contrast works as the two provide the summer soundtrack for Phillies fans.
"We have a different approach to the game, and the broadcast, but that's good," Franzke said. "We come at it from different perspectives because he was a player and probably knows the game better than I ever will.
"Meanwhile, I've learned as much as I can and bring what I can in terms of background on the players. Hopefully, it adds up to a well-rounded product. I am sure it's not always that way, but it works."
Franzke, who will turn 41 in March, admits that he and Andersen, who will turn 60 in May, are very different people.
"We're at different points in our lives and we have very different lives away from the ballpark, but we are friends," Franzke said. "Personally and professionally, Tom McCarthy [the TV play-by-play man] and I are much more alike. We're always talking about kids and family stuff, while Larry's kids are all grown up.
"But Larry and I do have a good time on the air and like spending time together."
And, as he looks ahead to the coming season, Franzke is hopeful that he and Andersen will be spending time together in October again as they did for five consecutive playoff years.
With the Phils out, Franzke and his wife took trips to Cancun and Paris in October.
"We took advantage of the time off, although I don't want that time off every year," he said.
The Phillies, you'll remember, spent a large chunk of last summer out of playoff contention before getting back in the race briefly. The lack of an intense pennant race changed the tone of the broadcasts.
"It was a different type of year, no doubt," Franzke said. "It was tough on everybody in the organization. We're along for the ride and we're fans and we want the team to win. When they don't, it could be frustrating."
And yet, whether the team is in first place or 10 games out, the desire to make it a good broadcast remains the same.
"Larry and I always joked that when the team struggled we'd get our true test as broadcasters," Franzke said. "One of the reasons Harry and Whitey were so revered in this town was that they made the games worth watching and entertaining even when the team wasn't worth watching or following on radio.
"From a broadcasting standpoint it became a different challenge because we couldn't sit back and let the game be the story all the time. We had to get creative and maybe dig a little deeper. It's a good test for any broadcaster to still make it entertaining and fun and keep people hanging with you. But I don't want to do it every year. I'd much rather be talking about a team that's contending for a world championship."
As far as the 2013 Phillies are concerned, Franzke has taken note of the recent flurry of moves, and said that it's still all going to depend on the health of the team's stars — namely Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay.
"They all need to be healthy and performing at a level we're accustomed to seeing them perform at," Franzke said. "If this team is really going to contend for the division, and it's a very difficult division, then those three are going to have to return to form and you can throw Cliff Lee into that mix as well after the strange year he had."
Win or lose, you can expect Franzke and L.A. to get in their share of laughs, even if it's just about the weather.
While no one may ever approach the popularity that Kalas engendered in his nearly 40 years in the Phillies booth, Franzke is appreciative that many fans have come to admire his work.
"People do send us some letters and cards and we do appreciate the positive feedback," he said. "In return, all I can say is that I love being here, and I hope to be here for a long time. It's a great town to work in and a great city to live in and the Phillies are great people to work for and work with.
"I don't know about being able to carve out a niche. If you're around a while, sometimes you grow on people and they get used to you a little bit. I hope people like it. Sometimes it sounds like we're just keeping ourselves entertained in that booth, but we understand that there are people on the other end of the line and we're trying to do the best we can for them."
DID YOU KNOW?
•With actress Ashley Judd and IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti announcing that they're ending their marriage, ABC execs are probably frowning. ABC loved showing Judd during the Indianapolis 500 every May, especially when she rushed to join Franchitti for the celebration in Victory Lane.
•Former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, but the current CBS analyst won the most attention among media at this year's Super Bowl by acknowledging that he had an affair with a CBS production assistant that resulted in him having an out-of-wedlock child in 2005. Marino has six children with his wife of 28 years.
•Jamie Lynn-Sigler, who played mob boss Tony Soprano's daughter, Meadow, on the popular HBO series, has announced her engagement to Cutter Dykstra, a minor-league infielder in the Nationals organization and son of the former Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra.
KEITH'S CAN'T MISS … What else but Super Bowl XLVII from New Orleans on CBS? There's been so much hype about the Harbaughs, Ray Lewis and Beyonce, but one of the best moments will be Jennifer Hudson singing "America the Beautiful" with 26 members of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Chorus before the game.