Improbable as it may have once seemed, Alex Rodriguez has found popularity as a broadcaster that eluded him during his controversial playing career marked by self-inflicted melodrama.
Rodriguez’s remarkable redemption continued Tuesday with ESPN’s announcement that he will join play-by-play voice Matt Vasgersian and color analyst Jessica Mendoza on the network’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team.
The hiring of Vasgersian, who will fill the role vacated by Dan Shulman, was also announced Tuesday. Mendoza and reporter Buster Olney are the holdovers. Rodriguez replaces Aaron Boone, who was hired as Yankees manager in December.
Rodriguez, 42, whose lucrative (more than $440 million in earnings) and accomplished (696 home runs) playing career was tainted by performance-enhancing drug scandals and other controversies, rebuilt his image as an enthusiastic and knowledgeable studio analyst on Fox Sports’s postseason baseball broadcasts.
In a unique talent-sharing agreement, Rodriguez will continue in his postseason role at Fox Sports along with the new high-profile role at ESPN. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my broadcasting career,’’ he said in a statement. “It’s an exciting time in baseball and now I get that front row seat to tell that story every Sunday night on ESPN as well as calling my fourth postseason on Fox where I started this journey.’’
Vasgersian, 50, who also works as a host and announcer for the MLB Network, becomes the third play-by-play voice in the 29-year history of Sunday Night Baseball, following Jon Miller (1990-2010) and Shulman (2011-16).
“Jon and Dan set the bar super-high for Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play, so it’s a real thrill for someone who still remembers his first minor league bus trip in 1991 to have a chair like this one,’’ said Vasgersian in a statement. “I know firsthand how passionate both Alex and Jessica are about baseball, and I can’t wait to get started with them.’’
The new Sunday Night Baseball team will make its official debut on Opening Day, Thursday, March 29, to call ESPN’s telecast of the Dodgers-Giants game. The trio will then call the first official Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the season on April 1, which also features the Dodgers and Giants.