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Normally getting hired for his dream job would be the highlight of someone’s winter. However, on February 12, 2005 37-year-old Jamie Campbell married the new Mrs. Alison Campbell in Jordan, Ontario. Assuming that Campbell wants to stay happily married, it seems likely he’d prioritise his marriage over his baseball-related news. However, this does not lessen the enthusiasm of Sportsnet’s new Blue Jays announcer, who recently visited with Batter’s Box.

Born on May 20, 1967 in Oakville, Ontario, Jamie Campbell was an avid sports fan in his youth, following baseball, hockey and auto racing. He was a big fan of Canucks defenceman Jocelyn Guevremont and was heartbroken when Guevremont was traded to the Buffalo Sabres; in fact, you’ll see echoes of Campbell’s fondness of Guevremont in his Batter’s Box handle – gv27.

However, the sport closest to most Box readers’ hearts, baseball, dominated Campbell’s summers. He primarily played third base and shortstop, which he enjoyed because of the actions those positions see, and though he played for a number of years, he admits he admits he didn’t possess the skills to play competitive baseball at higher levels. This didn’t diminish his love of the game and Campbell recalls fondly his trips to Exhibition Stadium, which were undertaken without parental supervision.

“I had a routine: make the 3:45 train and be at the visitor’s hotel by 5:00 to meet players as they boarded the bus (most night games started at 7:30, at the time),” recalled Campbell. “I then caught a streetcar to the Stadium and was usually the first in when the gate opened.

“That way,” he continued, “I could get a good position for batting practise. I always sat in right field directly behind the visitor’s bullpen. It served three purposes: it's a good spot for foul balls; the relievers were always friendly; and I was as close to Jesse Barfield as I could get.”

As has been reported elsewhere, Campbell often attended 30-35 games a year in his youth, a number that rivals some of the most ardent current Cheer Club members. This allowed him to witness some of the most historic incidents in Blue Jays history, from the 1978 triple play to Otto Velez’s four homers in one doubleheader against Cleveland to Devon White’s jaw-dropping catch in the 1992 World Series. He was also present for one of the stranger incidents in Blue Jays lore. “For several innings I sat directly in front of a towel-wrapped seagull that Dave Winfield had accidentally killed,” he said.

Campbell also remembers that he almost had a relatively unique souvenir in baseball history. “Being an opportunist, I thought about asking the ball boy if I could have the dead bird, but realised how mad my parents would have been if I'd hauled it back to Oakville,” he said.

As for non-historic Blue Jays memories Campbell again comes back to Barfield, “I guess my favourite moments came in bunches; that being any time [he] would gun down some opposing runner who thought he had enough speed to get home from second base!”

The love of baseball is something that has been present in Campbell since childhood. “My family can tell you I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to baseball,” he said. “It’s been a passion of mine for so long.” This is reflected in his knowledge of baseball history, to which anyone who’s spent any time talking to him can attest. His interest isn’t just superficial, either. “I have a fascination with the common player. We know so much about Ruth, Rose, and Ryan. I want to find out who Charlie Ripple, Phil Roof, and Gary Roenicke were,” Campbell said.

After graduating from Oakville-Trafalgar High School Campbell went to Ryerson from 1986 to 1989, when he graduated with a BAA in Radio and Television Arts. His first job in the media was at the age of 20, when he worked as a librarian for CBC Sports and a runner for Hockey Night in Canada. He was soon working full-time at CBC, where he experienced one of his career highlights in a sport he loves – working a Grand Prix broadcast. Later Campbell moved on to Sportsnet, where he had the opportunity to broadcast Wayne Gretzky’s final game in Canada, another career highlight of his.

Soon, Campbell was appearing on Sportsnet News, as well as taking on other duties such as reporting from the Super Bowl and the Olympics for the network. He’s also done some play-by-play work, most notably for CFL games. “I've learned the importance of cadence and flow - about how to stay relaxed. I prefer to work on assignments that are unscripted (a show like Sportsnet News, for example, is written in advance),” he explained. “As host of Sportsnet Live, a program that surrounds our NHL, NBA, and Blue Jays broadcasts, I grew accustomed to the working without script. I think it was an excellent training ground for advancement into live events.”

His broadcasting career also includes one Blue Jays telecast on April 8, 2002. “Sadly, Rob Faulds' father had passed away, and I was asked at the last minute to sit in for Rob the next evening at SkyDome,” said Campbell. “A few things stand out. First, John Cerutti was incredible. He took me in like a lost child, providing encouragement and support knowing I'd never broadcast a baseball game before. I'd called Chris Cuthbert that morning for some advice, and he said, ‘Call what you see. Don't get ahead of the play. Don't try and be fancy.’”

The results of the game were less memorable, said Campbell. “The Jays were hammered by the Yankees 16-3, with Luke Prokopec leaving after about three innings,” he recalled. “I remember Joe Lawrence making his big league debut, and remember getting absolutely ripped by some website (Batter’s Box?) because I had suggested Brian Lesher had come from the A's, when in fact, he stopped in Seattle first. It made me realize that baseball fans rarely miss a thing.”

Has he reviewed the tape of that broadcast to evaluate his performance? “I've looked at it twice,” he admitted. “I watch broadcasts for only one reason - to search for improvement. I'm the type who would rather know what I'm doing wrong, so it's important to be made aware of errors.”

This year may have provided another highlight in Campbell’s broadcasting career, as well as the most exciting baseball moment he’s experienced so far. If you recall the 2004 All-Star game in detail, you’ll remember a familiar redhead happened to catch David Ortiz’s home-run in the game, demonstrating Campbell wasn’t a complete loss as a player. Was he surprised to see Ortiz’s ball bounce into his hands? “When I saw the arc and direction of the ball, I immediately thought ‘if it bounces, I'm got a chance.’ And it did bounce once and fell so easily into my hands,” he recalled. “The first reaction was shock, since I had never caught a home run in my life. And then I hoped like heck FOX didn't cut to a close-up, because I had a 16-ounce Miller Lite sitting in front of me,” he said with a laugh.

“Interestingly,” he said, “The seats we were sitting in belonged to the Washington Post. Warren Sawkiw insisted we sit there for some reason, instead of going to Sportsnet's assigned seats, which were several rows back. I kept waiting for writers from the Washington Post go come and kick us out, but they never showed. I assume they'll be there this year.”

After the game Campbell went to the clubhouse to generously return the ball to the man who hit it. “I had a pass into the clubhouse, and Ortiz recognized me immediately - before I could even offer him the ball. He either got a good look at the red-head while rounding second, or saw the replay in the clubhouse,” he said. He didn’t entertain any thoughts of selling the ball, either. “Although I figured some crazy Red Sox fan might give me $1,000 on E-Bay, I dismissed the thought immediately.”

“I told David I'd see him around, and if there was any way he could score me one of his jerseys, then I'd be grateful. Later that summer, the PR guy for the Red Sox told me the guy who caught Manny Ramirez' home run was asking Ramirez to pay him several thousand for the ball,” he said. “I realized I didn't need the ball, because I had the memory. That moment is irreplaceable.” There’s no word on if Campbell got the jersey he desired, but there’ll be plenty of opportunity for him to remind Ortiz this year.

On the Fan 590 Campbell mentioned that his role models in the broadcasting world have been Vin Scully and Dan Shulman. “My familiarity with Scully has accelerated in recent years,” Campbell said. “I work late most nights, so I'll often sit down for a 10:00 (EST) Dodger game.” He added, “Shulman is a star in my eyes, with a wonderful command of the game. He's also become a good friend who I lean on for advice.”

Of course, Campbell said, “Tom and Jerry have long been my voices of summer, and that goes back to the days when Cheek was working with Early Wynn.”

Did they inspire him to enter the field? “There isn't a single broadcaster that inspired me to enter this field. I pursued this line of work because I absolutely had to find a way of combining my undying passion with the ability to make a living,” he said. “I spent so much time at sporting events, I figured it would only be natural to want to try and become a broadcaster some day. I'm glad I took the chance.”

Sportsnet recently announced its broadcast schedule, with TSN picked up more games this offseason due to the NHL strike, leaving Sportsnet with 103 broadcasts. Sportsnet decided to split those broadcasts among a four-man broadcast team. Pat Tabler will work 43 games on Sportsnet, in addition to the 42 he does with Rod Black on TSN, which also leaves 17 Jays games not on TV.

The remaining 60 games will be split up amongst three other former Jays with fan favourite Rance Mulliniks taking 28 games, Tom Candiotti 23 and Darrin Fletcher will handle 9 broadcasts. Many Bauxites reacted unfavourably to this announcement, not necessarily due to dislike of any of those particular broadcasters, but rather because a revolving door of colour commentators is unheard of and will likely makes things more difficult on the play-by-play man, who is new himself.

Batter’s Box General Manager Jordan Furlong summed up many people’s sentiments well. “I have never heard of any broadcast team, anywhere, that uses four colour commentators, least of all with a brand-new play-by-play man who could use some stability and veteran presence beside him,” wrote Furlong. “Campbell deserves better than to spend his first year on the job holding open tryouts for his broadcast partner….[It’s] no way to establish a rapport and chemistry in your announcing team, and it's no way to run a professional broadcast booth.”

However, perhaps not unexpectedly, Campbell disagrees with those sentiments and thinks it will add a unique dimension to the broadcasts. “There is an advantage in that they comprise two infielders, one catcher, and one pitcher, so I will be able to draw on their individual skills.”

There will be some adjustment to each colour partner, Campbell admitted, but he believes things will work out well. “All four have broadcast experience. Getting to know each of them won't be a challenge. I will have to quickly adjust to their respective styles, and learn not to step on things they wish to say,” he noted. “My biggest challenge is to make the viewer feel comfortable with the rotation, because baseball fans enjoy consistency. I worked All-Star weekend in Chicago two years ago with Candiotti, so he and I have an established relationship,” he added.

Perhaps the question he’s been asked the most so far concerns his home run call. “In fact, I've been asked it so often; I've almost started to believe I ‘must’ have a home run call,” Campbell said. “Truthfully, I prefer broadcasters who simply react to what they see. I use the example of Jack Buck calling Kirby Puckett's home run in the '91 World Series, forcing a seventh game: "and we will see you tomorrow night!" If you've heard it, you know it was a sensational call, and perfect for the moment and impact of the hit.

To answer the question,” he continued, “I am not going to develop any kind of a home run call. That said, I would love to hear the opinions of those contributing to Batter’s Box.” This approach is likely supported by the most memorable home run call of most Blue Jays fans’ lives: “Touch ‘em all Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run.” That spontaneous call by Tom Cheek has gone down in baseball lore, at least north of the border, and will never be forgotten.

One of the most difficult things for many broadcasters to deal with is how to criticise the team they cover. As they spend six months around the team, more if you make the playoffs or count spring training, if broadcasters are deemed to be unfairly critical by some players it can make for a very frosty relationship. However, at the same time an announcer who never finds anything at fault with the team he covers will lose legitimacy, in the eyes of his peers, the viewers and likely some of the players themselves.

So how does the Blue Jays newest announcer plan to handle this situation? Campbell admitted, “By nature, I am not a critical person, but I am honest. If someone isn't running the bases aggressively (like Delgado in Tampa Bay last year), it will be critically - yet fairly - announced.”

Another example from an early spring training game this year: when Hillenbrand made a heads-up play to freeze Tony Womack partway down the third baseline on a chopper hit straight to him. However, when chasing Womack back to the bag Hillenbrand both held the ball too low, and held onto it for too long, allowing Womack to dive back to third safely. Campbell recalled, “I watched [that play] and practically jumped out of my seat. I will do the same in the broadcast booth.”

Like many things, striking a balance is important, and Campbell believes he can do just that. “Still, if a guy is in a slump, it will be obvious. It's important to point out when people aren't playing well, just as it's important to laud them when they succeed.” He also has a plan to deal with any potentially awkward situations that occur. “If I say something that comes back to me - either from a player, coach, or JP [Ricciardi] - I will either stand by my comment, or assess whether I may have been too harsh,” he said.

While it’s important for broadcasters to remain optimistic, both to appeal to the casual fans and to keep themselves sane, it’s also important not to delude the viewer into believing the team is something that it’s not.

However, Campbell believes his broadcast experience will help him avoid the pitfall of “homerism”, and he compares himself to just over ten years ago. “When the Jays first won a World Series, I was so happy, I helped flip a cab in downtown Halifax. But I was a fan then” he said. “I found as I worked my way through this business, you become less of a fan, and more of a passionate, interested observer. I've covered teams like the Edmonton Oilers, Eskimos, and Trappers or the Ottawa Senators and Lynx,” he recounted. “Though I was always thrilled to see them succeed, my enthusiasm was always tempered by my profession. It's simply ingrained.”

One reader asked about the influence Campbell will have on the production elements of the broadcast, and the new announcer defers to the experts, for now. “Though my creative control is not limited in any way, my first priority is to become comfortable with my responsibility. And since people like our producer Jeff Mather and statistician/columnist Scott Carson have decades of experience, I will lean on their expertise,” said Campbell. “In time, I will offer up suggestions. Until then, my responsibility is to the viewer, ensuring accurate information and an enjoyable broadcast experience.” So, don’t expect tables of statistics about Phil Roof and Gary Roenicke – yet, anyway.

What would Campbell like to see changed about the current state of baseball? “Truthfully, not much,” he said. “I'm old-fashioned, so I've grown comfortable with the current playoff format, and would want to see it expanded.” Outspoken concerning baseball’s most current controversy he continued, “I would love to see steroids eliminated from the game so crooks like Jose Canseco can't upstage hard-working, gifted athletes. Good for Canseco to come clean in his book, but admitting that he wouldn't have been much of a player without steroids ticked me off.” He also added, “I also believe that, if Ty Cobb is in the Hall, Pete Rose should be too. Beyond all this, I wouldn't change much.”

And finally, as for the 2005 Jays? Obviously, the story of this offseason was the departure of Carlos Delgado and Campbell is sad to see him go, but he also sees this as an opportunity for the team’s youngsters. “Carlos was not like some superstars, in that he was well-liked and respected in the locker-room (at least, as far as I know). You hear about some teams improving (Texas?) after their star leaves. Delgado's departure means someone has to step into that role of leader - whether verbally or silently - and I figure that job now belongs to Vernon Wells,” he said.

Can the Jays replace Delgado’s offensive talent with the moves they made in the winter? “My hope is that Corey Koskie can stay healthy enough to at least off-set the loss of Delgado's bat,” Campbell replied. “It would help if someone like Eric Hinske put up some excellent numbers.”

Campbell believes that evaluations of the club’s moves this offseason have to be placed in the right context. “I think did what they could, without getting stupid,” he said. “I was at the Winter Meetings, when talk of acquiring Matt Clement was at it's peak. But then these monster contracts were being signed (Benson, Russ Ortiz, Sexson, Glaus) and the market went way beyond what most expected. We have to remember the Blue Jays are not a club awash in money.

“I liked the acquisition of Corey Koskie, a hard-nosed player with a solid bat. I like what I see of Hillenbrand,” he continued. “We'll have to wait on whether Schoeneweis is effective against lefties, and at the time of this writing, I'm not convinced Koch is going to make the team. Regardless of what I think, if the team can avoid the injuries that crippled them last year, I expect vast improvement.”

Finally, some Jamie Campbell Preseason Predictions:

AL East Order of Finish: Boston, New York, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay
ALCS Loser: Los Angeles Angels
NLCS Loser: Chicago Cubs
World Series Match-up and Champion: Boston over Atlanta
Darkhorse team to watch: Detroit
Worst team in baseball: Colorado
AL MVP: Vladimir Guerrero
AL Cy Young: Rich Harden
AL ROY: Nick Swisher
NL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL Cy Young: Tim Hudson
NL ROY: Jeff Francis
Most Surprising Player: Zack Greinke
Most Disappointing Player: Pedro Martinez
A prediction for an individual player he guarantees will come true: Vernon Wells will steal 25 bases

The author wishes to thank Mick Doherty for his extensive editing assistance. Batter’s Box wishes to extend a big thank you to Jamie Campbell for his willingness to accommodate our interview request and his time and candidness while answering questions. We wish him the best of luck in his rookie year.

An Interview with Jamie Campbell | 22 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Gardiner West - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 10:35 AM EST (#106288) #
Thank you for an excellent introduction. We've patiently waited a long time for a play-by-play man with a passion for the game to return to the Blue Jays TV booth. Ever since Dan Shulman moved on to greener pastures, we've been forced to sit and listen to broadcasters with plenty of sizzle, but very little steak. I wish Jamie Campbell nothing but success with his new posting. Sportsnetnews' loss is Blue Jays' fans gain.
Mike Green - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 10:36 AM EST (#106289) #
Fine, fine piece, Thomas.

I'm pleased to hear that Jamie Campbell not only has a love and respect for the game, but is a big Jesse Barfield fan. The '80s were fine, but it is really too bad that Jesse didn't leave Toronto with a ring.
Flex - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 10:39 AM EST (#106290) #
Nice interview. Campbell sounds intelligent and very aware of the broadcaster's role. I like what he has to say about home run calls. He sounds like he'll fit in the Shulman/Cheek mode of calling a relaxed, spontaneous game as opposed to tying himself into Howarthian knots in order to get to the signature call. Very encouraging.

I did want to correct what appears to be a common mistake regarding Cheek's famous Carter home run call. On this site it is consistently truncated, and it loses some of its glory, in my opinion. The actual call was: "Touch 'em all, Joe. You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life."
In its entirety, it's grand.
Marc Hulet - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 10:48 AM EST (#106293) #
Excellent job on the article, Thomas.

I for one am looking forward to seeing/hearing Campbell on Sportsnet... He was a good choice for the new TV voice of the Jays.
Chuck - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 11:39 AM EST (#106302) #
Idiot of the year? No, not Brian Sabean. It's me.

I wrote up a long-winded note on the Jamie Campbell interview but plopped it into the BBRef thread.


Perhaps someone with keys to the kindom could move it for me. Just add the cost to my tab.
Jdog - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 11:52 AM EST (#106303) #
So your telling me the man is turning 38 this year.
He looks like he's 32.
Anyways I like the choice, I grew up watching sports at 11:30 with Mike Toth and all those crazy guys ....and mike wrote a nice column about Jamie on , and it appears they get along great I'm sure he'll be a fun guy for the bluejays fans to listen to. I'm out
Jdog - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 11:55 AM EST (#106305) #
Oh and about home run calls...I second what Chuch had to say in his misdirected post....very spontaneous....and really it doesn't matter what you say if its a big homerun the fans are so happy that anything you say will be gold.....If instead of "touch em all Joe" he would have blunted out "Holy Shitaki that ball is gone" we would have loved it just the same.
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 11:57 AM EST (#106306) #
Your wish is my command-alt-delete, Chuck:

Chuck - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 11:37 AM EST (#106301)

A few random comments...

I'm looking forward to Mr. Campbell's work. With Rob Faulds and Rod Black and Brian Williams we have long endured announcers who were neither fans of baseball nor especially knowledgeable. A departure from the unfortunate status quo will be nice.

My take on homerun calls can be summarized in one word: cheesy. They may have been appropriate in radio days when broadcasters had to work a little harder to differentiate themselves from their peers, but when I hear one now (especially one as lame as "what do you think about that?") I am listening to someone trying to make the event about him and not about the man who hit the homerun. Jamie, just say what comes to you at the moment. You're thoughtful and articulate. You'll know the right thing to say.

With respect to The Catch at the all-star game, I remember my reaction: "What the...? That's Jamie Campbell". My next thought was that he had awfully crummy seats for being in the media. I had better seats at the all-star game in Montreal (a hundred years ago) and I just bought my tickets through normal channels. I'm guessing that there is more media in attendance at these events nowadays.

Finally, and this is not meant disrespectfully to Jamie, upon seeing him on TV my son commented: "hey, it's Archie". As in Archie Andrews. So Jamie, did you end up marrying Veronica or Betty? (Veronica had the loot but seemed much higher maintenance.)

Good luck Jamie. We're in your corner.

Jdog - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:01 PM EST (#106307) #
It appears that Mick has a little more power than Mr. German...

Oh and Jamie if you read this , you use my made up homerun call(posted above) just once and i guarentee you that people will think its funny and love you for it.
Chuck - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:02 PM EST (#106308) #
Thanks for the movectomy. In the future I'll keep my eyes on the road and my hands in the 10-and-2 position.
The_Beav - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:02 PM EST (#106309) #
Great interview. Campbell sounds like a perfect fit.
Now if there was only a way for us Canadians in the US (Buffalo, NY) to enjoy his work. The Blue Jays don't make very many appearances on the MLB Extra Innings cable package. And when they do, it's usually the opposition's feed.
Andrew K - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:09 PM EST (#106311) #
I second The_Beav's comment. I wish Jamie the best of luck, but very rarely carries the Jays broadcast so I'll have to squirm through another year of heavily biased White Sox and Yankees broadcasters, the grating voice of the Devil Rays guy, the utter nondescript boredom of the whole Orioles experience, while enjoying the relative comfort of the Boston team.
Mike D - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:37 PM EST (#106312) #
Jamie, thanks as always for your support. Good luckwith your dream gig!

Is there any chance of perhaps introducing your 1961 Cubs-like "College of Colour Commentators" to Batter's Box? Candiotti, Tabler, Fletch and Razor Rance would all be intriguing interview subjects (if not forum participants).

Great job in putting this together, Mr. Ayers.
Named For Hank - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:41 PM EST (#106313) #
For you guys in the States, if you have a Canadian mailing address (or someone in Canada who's willing to receive mail for you), you can buy a Canadian satellite system and hook it up in the US. It's grey-ish, in terms of legality, but it's possible -- you just don't get the free installation and would have to be able to point the dish in the right direction yourself.
The_Beav - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:59 PM EST (#106317) #
NFH ... don't tease me like that! It would save me making the drive to Kelsey's in Fort Erie that's for sure.
I'd like to hear from anyone in the US currently using a Canadian satellite dish. The thought of watching TSN and Sportsnet instead of ESPN makes me giddy.

BlueJaysLee - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 01:12 PM EST (#106325) #
Great interview! It's always good to know that someone as passionate about baseball will be calling the games. Best of luck Jamie...I'm thinking of a HR call for you ;) lol
Willy - Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 03:36 PM EST (#106415) #
I'm impressed! Both by the fine interview (good work, Thomas) and by Jamie Campbell. First and foremost, he sounds intelligent. (Well, I don't know about the Halifax cab-flipping.) He's so right about the nonsense of the so-called "signature call". It's utterly phoney. And to have Shulman as friend and role-model bodes well. Pity he didn't get Winfield's seagull home, though. Talk about one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

The proportion of self-involved dimbulbs among Toronto sportscasters is lamentably high--The Fan has a dumpster full of them. I'm delighted to learn that Campbell seems to be one of the exceptions. Best of Luck, jamie.
Grand Funk RR - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 09:05 AM EST (#106452) #
Despite his obvious interest in the game of baseball, I still think this hire was a HUGE mistake.
Named For Hank - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 02:07 PM EST (#106483) #
What makes you say that, GFR?
Gardiner West - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 03:21 PM EST (#106497) #
Anyone else you have in mind?
Craig B - Thursday, March 17 2005 @ 06:44 PM EST (#106537) #
Sources tell me that GFR means he should have been hired as the play-by-play man instead, so that he could deliver his patented home run call... "Grand Funk Out!"
best400 - Wednesday, April 06 2005 @ 11:18 PM EDT (#109772) #
Whats best about Campbell is that he will appeal to many of the younger fans that lack knowledge of the game. For that reason he'll probably do a great job
An Interview with Jamie Campbell | 22 comments | Create New Account
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