After 13 years together, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that FOX Sports Florida will not bring back Marlins play-by-play announcer Rich Waltz. Studio analysts Jeff Conine and Preston Wilson—both former players for the franchise—are also gone:
“After a thorough review of our Marlins telecasts, we have decided to make changes with the broadcast talent for the coming season,” Fox said in a statement. “We feel that this is the right time to make a change, and we’ve shared our decision with the team. We thank Rich, Jeff and Preston for the hard work and dedication they brought to the broadcast and wish them the very best.”
Jackson adds that the search for Waltz’s replacement is “in the early stages” without a clear successor.
Meanwhile, reporter Jessica Blaylock and studio host Craig Minervini will remain on Marlins telecasts in 2018. Todd Hollandsworth is sticking around as the lead analyst.
It’s the third straight offseason with significant personnel changes (miss ya, Tommy!), and from the look of it, many of you are taking this news negatively:
Getting this feeling that some of you are unhappy with the Rich Waltz news... pic.twitter.com/USlbjAPmFv— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) November 22, 2017
WTF did he do?! Why him?! He was the best part of a Marlins game. https://t.co/xEMLoCq94K— Lourdes Martinez (@lulyyM28) November 22, 2017
Conine’s departure was expected after new ownership removed him from his special assistant role within the organization. However, it should be emphasized: CEO Derek Jeter is not necessarily to blame for these other dismissals. FOX Sports Florida has the ultimate say on who they employ as on-air talent.
Waltz’s tenure in the TV booth didn’t overlap with any playoff teams, but it lasted for more than half of the franchise’s existence! So naturally, he voiced many of the biggest moments in Marlins history. Those calls include the Edinson Volquez no-hitter in June, as well as several others that are immortalized in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which we visited earlier this month.
Waltz provided a statement to Jackson reacting to the news:
“I am disappointed but wish the Marlins and their fans and Fox Sports Florida the best,” Waltz said. “I enjoyed every one of my 13 seasons, every inning of every game. I was blessed to work with great production people and terrific analysts. I am very proud of the charity event I [started] and helped run and hope it continues.”
What were some of your favorite Waltz moments? Please share them in the comments so we can celebrate his great contributions together.