The news came as a shock—FOX Sports Florida decided, in the middle of the MLB offseason, to overhaul its Miami Marlins broadcast booth. Veteran play-by-play man Rich Waltz was fired, along with analysts Preston Wilson and “Mr. Marlin” himself, Jeff Conine.
In his initial report on Wednesday afternoon, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes that the broadcasters themselves didn’t see it coming, either. Understandably, it took time to process.
Waltz provided Jackson with some brief comments in the immediate aftermath, but published a more detailed statement on Thursday afternoon:
“Hi Kids. Thank you for all the kind notes from Fans, Friends, and Colleagues.
“It has been my absolute honor to call Marlin games for FS Florida for the past 13 seasons. I’ve worked with some of the most talented Production Peeps in the business (that’s Sulse, Brett, Christian, Mark B, Cassie, World’s Most Dangerous Tape Room and many, many more). My partners and analysts have been terrific; from an incredible 11 years next to Tommy Hutton to my last two with Holly, Eduardo, Al, Preston, and Niner. Craig, Jess, AW, Nelly, Cliff and Carl...all of you have been so good to work with.
“I also want to thank Marlin Players, Managers, Coaches, and Staff. You made this broadcaster’s job much easier and you’ve helped teach me so much about the game.
“I am proud of my work in the booth and I am proud of my time in the Community. Thank you for making my Fox Sports Fantasy Auction a success. Please continue to support the Marlins Foundation; their work in the community is so important.
“I have always said that Marlin Fans might not be great in number, but they are great in spirit and in heart. Thanks for being there for the big moments, Twitter Tuesday, and the 10 Run Reel. And, thank you for helping me through the hardest broadcast of my life on Sept 26, 2016.
“Good luck to the Fish! Hopefully when another door opens for me, I’ll see many of you on the other side.
“Thanks South Florida.
He has always been modest. Truth is, Waltz was just as valuable to the telecast experience as any of the individuals named above. Despite covering mediocre Marlins teams, his work was admired by local fans and regularly featured on national media outlets. Even the National Baseball Hall of Fame noticed.
Like Waltz, the Fish Stripes staff needed a few hours to reflect on this change. But on Thanksgiving morning, we took to Twitter to share some of his best calls from the past 13 seasons.
Sept. 6, 2006: “Ground ball, this might do it. Hanley to first…HE DID IT! HE DID IT! No-hitter, Anibal Sanchez!” pic.twitter.com/hFxGR0FcM2— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) November 23, 2017
August 7, 2010: “Hanley drives one into the gap, right-center field…Tracy around second, he’s headed for third. Rounding third…he’s coming home. He’s…gonna…score! Ballgame!” pic.twitter.com/POyDbzt7sw— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) November 23, 2017
Sept. 11, 2013: “The kid, in his last game, homers to left!” pic.twitter.com/Y1c28Fz04b— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) November 23, 2017
Sept. 29, 2013: “Dobbs, check swing IT GETS AWAY…here comes Stanton…it’s a no-hitter, Henderson Alvarez! pic.twitter.com/Huc1ZWONra— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) November 23, 2017
July 1, 2015: “GRIP it and RIP it!” pic.twitter.com/WR770ENnKG— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) November 23, 2017
August 7, 2016: “3,000 is in right field and Ichiro is racing for third! And he’s done it: he’s climbed the mountain.” pic.twitter.com/TRRRZ3tG5B— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) November 23, 2017
June 3, 2017: “0-2 pitch…he did it! Realmuto to first, a no-hitter for Edinson Volquez!” pic.twitter.com/KLbYiHmG94— Fish Stripes (@fishstripes) November 23, 2017
The celebration didn’t stop there. We extended the original thread to include several more great submissions from the Twitter fam:
Waltz approached the job with an enthusiasm and professionalism that will be sorely missed. He’s not a tall man, but leaves behind enormous shoes for his successor to fill in 2018 and beyond.