Pirates hire Block as new play-by-play man

Rob Biertempfel
| Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, 12:24 p.m.

The Pirates on Saturday hired veteran announcer Joe Block to work alongside lead play-by-play man Greg Brown.

Block, 37, called Milwaukee Brewers games for the past four seasons, sharing a booth with Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker.

“My style is a little more reserved, but I'll get up for the big moments,” Block said. “I'm always finding something interesting in the game, so I don't think (listeners) will fall asleep on me.”

Block will divvy up innings with Brown on the radio and television broadcasts. Steve Blass, Bob Walk and John Wehner remain in place as color analysts.

“There will be a little bit of a transition, going from the Brewers to the Pirates,” Block said. “But I've seen about 70 Pirates games over the past four years. I've followed the storylines. That's going to help.”

Block's wife Bethany is a South Park native. They were married in Pittsburgh.

“We've been coming here for several years, so it's become home for me, too,” Block said. “My wife and I have always talked about if the Pirates' job ever opened, I'd make a run for it.”

There were around 225 applicants for the job, which opened in late December when Tim Neverett left to work for the Boston Red Sox.

The field was whittled to five finalists — a group that included former Red Sox announcer Jerry Trupiano, former Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres play-by-play man Andy Masur, former Atlanta Braves pre- and post-game show host Tom Hart, and former Houston Astros voice Brett Dolan.

“Joe's play-by-play ability, diverse experience, strong work ethic and genuine desire to become a permanent part of the Pirates family and Pittsburgh community made him our top choice,” president Frank Coonelly said in a prepared statement.

A 1999 Michigan State grad, Block grew up a Detroit Tigers fan. His first baseball play-by-play work came in the minor leagues with the Charleston RiverDogs in 2000. He also did play-by-play for the St. Paul Saints (2001-02), Jacksonville Suns (2003-06), Great Falls White Sox (2007) and Billings Mustangs (2010).

In 2003-04, Block was a guest announcer for a few Montreal Expos road games. He also did some Los Angeles Dodgers spring training games in 2011 for Fox Sports West and PrimeTicket.

In 2012, the Brewers hired Block to pair with Uecker. Over the past two seasons, Block was the lead announcer for more than 40 road games.

“It was a real honor and privilege to work with Bob Uecker,” Block said. “He's never been one to tell me how to do things. I was able to just watch him work. It was a lot of fun, a lot of laughs. He was a big help for me learning to just be myself on the air.”

Block will have a more prominent role in the Pirates' booth than he's had before.

“Working with Uecker was great, but you're not getting nine innings (of work) with him,” Block said with a laugh. “He's such a great storyteller, most games I got like three innings.”

Block has hosted pre- and post-game radio shows for the Dodgers and New Orleans Hornets. He also has announced college football and basketball games for regional networks.

Block's voice was featured in national online ads for Microsoft OneNote. He also has been in more than 50 regional commercial spots and also has narrated announcements and videos for several MLB and NBA teams.

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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