Q&A with Rays announcer Dewayne Staats on calling a no-hitter
On July 23, Rays television announcer Dewayne Staats called Mark Buehrle's perfect game against the Rays. On Sunday, he called the game in which the Rays' James Shields carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning before it was broken up. Being the Rays announcer, he followed the baseball tradition of not saying the actual word "no-hitter'' during Shields' bid. He did, however, use the words "perfect game'' during Buehrle's attempt. On Monday, Staats talked about the proper protocol for calling a no-hitter.
How many no-hitters have you called?
Five. I called Ken Forsch's no-hitter (in 1979) and Nolan Ryan's record-breaking fifth (in 1981). Both of those were at the Astrodome when I called games for Houston. Then I called Jim Abbott's (in 1993) when I was with the Yankees. Then Derek Lowe's against the Rays (in 2002) and then Buehrle's. And I've called a lot of close calls.
What's it like?
It's fun to paint the picture in every way you can short of saying, "He has a no-hitter.''
So your policy is not to say "no-hitter'' if it's a pitcher for the team you broadcast?
Yes. I won't mention it when it's the team I call. Baseball is full of superstitions. I don't necessarily take them seriously, but it is fun to play with and it's part of the culture of the game. So I'll play with that.
Have you ever accidently jinxed it by saying someone had a "no-hitter?''
I haven't. But Gene Elston (Staats' former partner in Houston) was not a real superstitious guy that way. And he would reference it. But it's a long-standing tradition that you don't. Then it becomes a fun game when you say, "There have been five hits in the game and the Rays have them all.'' Or you say, "The Royals have had three baserunners and they all came on walks'' and things like that. I try to periodically say things like that. I try to recount it just to try to give people notice. When (former Rays pitcher) Tony Saunders had a no-hitter in the seventh, I remember I said, "Hey, you might want to call your friends because there's something special going on.'' But I never said, "no-hitter.''
In the Buehrle game, you did say he had a "perfect game.''
I did mention a couple of times and that's the license that a local guy has. I like Buehrle. He's one of the good guys. But, hey, there's no secret that most people who tune into our games would prefer to see the Rays win. And me included. I think I have to have credibility so I'll try to maintain that. But I still want to see the Rays win. So if I can bring whatever "power'' there are to break it up, I'll do it (laughs).
How did you feel as that game went along and Buehrle was getting closer?
I will admit that I was rooting for him, especially in the ninth. The White Sox were way ahead. You don't want to see your team lose, but it's pretty special, especially when you're talking about a perfect game.
Do you start thinking ahead on what you're going to say if a guy gets a no-hitter?
That thought will occur to you. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to think of anything, but I just let it come. The moment kind of dictates it. With Buehrle, I just wanted to get out of the way and let the moment soak in visually. At some point I made the reference that "Buehrle is one of the good guys and today he's the best.'' That just came to me. And he is a good guy and he really was the best that day. I'm always concerned that if you think about something you're going to say, you're probably going to mess it up.