Yankees TV voice Michael Kay diving into Cubs-Cardinals for ESPN broadcast Sunday

What can Cubs fans unfamiliar with Kay expect? Considering the first pitch is scheduled for 9:10 a.m., a wake-up call is coming. “I get into the game,” he said.

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Michael Kay (right) will be joined by Alex Rodriguez (left) and Tim Kurkjian at London Stadium, home of West Ham United FC.

ESPN

Michael Kay knows what Cubs fans are thinking.

As the Yankees’ longtime TV voice, he has watched the team’s appearances on national broadcasts and noticed when the announcers miss something.

“It bothers me a little bit,” Kay said. “So I can imagine how a fan feels, and I don’t want to be that guy. I hope that when they listen to the game, they don’t feel like it’s an interloper that doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Kay, 62, will take a break from the Yankees to call the Cubs-Cardinals game Sunday morning in London for ESPN. He’ll be joined by Alex Rodriguez and Tim Kurkjian at London Stadium, home of West Ham United FC.

“I understand the appreciation and the history of the Cubs and the Cardinals and what a great rivalry it is,” Kay said. “So I hope that we can provide that for the fans in Chicago and St. Louis.”

Kay’s history with ESPN began in 2001, when the network launched ESPN New York radio. He has hosted the afternoon show since 2002, the same year he moved from Yankees radio to TV with the launch of YES Network.

Last year, Kay was in the running for the play-by-play job on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball,” which ultimately went to Karl Ravech. But the network approached him about doing an alternate broadcast with Rodriguez called “KayRod Cast,” a studio show that airs on ESPN2 for select “SNB” games.

As part of the deal, Kay and Rodriguez call one or two regular-season games and a wild-card series. They worked the Phillies-Cardinals series last postseason, but their regular-season appearance was cancelled because Kay contracted COVID.

What can Cubs fans unfamiliar with Kay expect? Considering the first pitch is scheduled for 9:10 a.m., a wake-up call is coming.

“I get into the game,” he said. “I love baseball, so I get excited with good plays. I’m high energy; I tell stories. They should know that a lot of home runs are punctuated by ‘See ya!’ I’ve been doing that for the 32 years I’ve been broadcasting baseball.”

The story behind his signature call is amusing.

“Right before I got the [Yankees] radio job [in 1992], I was dating a young lady, and whenever she would get out of the car at the end of a date, she’d say, ‘See ya. Wouldn’t wanna be ya,’ ” Kay said. “So then you get a baseball gig and you think, Well, I’ve gotta have a home-run call, right? I kinda like ‘See ya!’

“I took out ‘Wouldn’t wanna be ya,’ which is actually a line from [the 1991 film] ‘New Jack City’ when they throw somebody off of a bridge. So that young lady, I’m sure she thinks she’s owed some money, but I did whittle it down to just ‘See ya!’ ”

During baseball season, Kay puts in a full day hosting a talk show and calling a ballgame. His preparation involves a lot of reading and fast-forwarding through recorded games so he can see as much as possible. He hosts the show at the ballpark, apart from partners Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg, and leaves about 40 minutes early to record the open for the game.

Kay’s contract with ESPN Radio was set to expire in September, and after considering stepping down, he reupped and continues the grind. It can be taxing. Four years ago, he had vocal cord surgery and was out of commission for about six weeks. Kay hasn’t had any problems with his voice since, and he said he feels great.

Kay called the Yankees’ game Thursday night in New York and was set to fly to London on Friday morning. His plan for the six-hour trip: study everything about the Cubs and Cardinals. He already has been following the teams, and he said he’d reach out to Cubs TV voice and close friend Jon Sciambi to learn more. But Kay said he’ll keep the national audience in mind.

“It’s not just Cardinals and Cubs fans that are going to be watching,” he said. “So I feel that I’ve got to explain maybe basic storylines that a Cubs or Cardinals fan would know, and I hope that they can stick with me with that. On a national broadcast, I try to do more of a broad stroke so that people aren’t alienated.”

Kay wasn’t on the trip when the Yankees played the Red Sox in London in 2019. The Yankees won 17-13 and 12-8. Kay hopes not to see a repeat of what he called “baseball pinball.”

“I felt bad because I didn’t think that the people that went to those games from London or from around Europe got a true sense of what baseball was about,” Kay said. “I hope it’s more like a traditional baseball game rather than like 19-18 because I don’t think that’s representative of what the game is.”

Remote patrol

  • The Score will have Pat Hughes, Ron Coomer, Zach Zaidman and engineer Rich Wyatt at London Stadium for the radio broadcast of the Cubs-Cardinals series. Pregame coverage begins at 11:35 a.m. Saturday and 8:35 a.m. Sunday. The station hired a British voice for promotion and production elements and partnered with sister station WXRT for London-themed music to air during the broadcasts.
  • The game Saturday will air at 12:10 p.m. on FOX 32. Joe Davis and John Smoltz will call the action, and Ken Rosenthal will report from the field. Derek Jeter will debut as a studio analyst on the pregame show, which begins at 11 a.m. He joins host Kevin Burkhardt, Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz.
  • MLB Network also is in London. Robert Flores, former Cub Mark DeRosa and Lauren Shehadi will co-host “MLB Central,” the network’s morning show, on Friday. They also appeared Thursday.

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