Giants extend broadcaster Miller's deal

Giants extend broadcaster Miller's deal

SAN FRANCISCO -- There was a time last July when heat, humidity and time-zone weariness -- along with numerous pat-downs from airport security folks -- had Giants announcer Jon Miller asking himself a serious question.

"What am I doing ... do I really need this?"

The answer, fortunately for San Francisco baseball fans and Miller aficionados across America, was yes.

And now, the man known for his accurate and colorful action descriptions has been given a six-year contract extension through 2012 as the Giants' play-by-play voice on flagship radio station KNBR 680 and on television.

Executive vice president and chief operating officer Larry Baer made the announcement Friday, and Miller was typically ebullient about the deal.

"It's the ultimate job as far as I'm concerned," said the Bay Area native. "I'm very happy to see it get done so I can keep going to the ballpark and get paid for it. I'm thrilled."

According to the 55-year-old Miller, who first broadcast in 1974 for the Oakland A's and has been the voice of the Giants since 1997, the daily grind is sheer heaven, despite 5 a.m. wakeup calls, hundreds of cab rides and cross-country flights.

"Working with Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow and Dave Flemming, the thing we all share is passion for the game," said Miller. "Being at the ballpark is an energizing atmosphere. Not anytime in the past 10 years has anyone mentioned, 'We hope to get a fast game in tonight.' We're truly thrilled to be there."

Baer called the new deal a significant one for the organization, noting, "We feel an important part of a baseball franchise is presentation to the fans, and there's nobody better in the game than Jon Miller."

It's been a long ride for Miller, who talked into his tape recorder at local games as a kid and hopes to eventually sign off with the San Francisco club.

Miller said all the best broadcasters will forever be associated with one team, and although he worked 14 years with the Baltimore Orioles, the new pact means he'll be forever linked to San Francisco.

"I always thought that's almost its own reward, to be affiliated with one team," said Miller, "and it's always been one of my goals."

He joins a select group of announcers who will share that honor. Fellow boothmates Kuiper and Krukow are signed through 2010, while Hall of Fame broadcaster Lon Simmons was a 24-year veteran with the Giants and popular Hank Greenwald was at the microphone for 15 years.

Longevity indicates someone doing a job well, and for Miller, that also entails being truthful despite a club's difficult times, telling fans what's happening on the field and off without being the ultimate "homer."

"You have to build credibility -- that's first and foremost," said Miller. "You have to be positive and entertaining, but the fans have to believe what you're telling them."

Miller enters his 11th season with the Giants, handles play-by-play on ESPN's Sunday telecasts, won the coveted "ACE" award for cable TV excellence in 1991, was nominated twice for a national Emmy Award in 1995 and has broadcast the World Series on ESPN Radio for eight years.

Although he has cherished witnessing wonderful baseball moments, from Reggie Jackson's heroic feats, Cal Ripken's consecutive-game streak and Barry Bonds' chase of the all-time homer mark, the proudest times -- oddly enough -- are being at Spring Training contests in the Arizona desert.

That's when obscure players, spring invites and numberless jerseys can make broadcasting demanding.

"If I can get through the whole game and get everybody's name right, that's what I'm most proud of," laughed Miller. "You don't want to screw it up."

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.