Red Sox play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo out at NESN


The Boston Red Sox TV broadcast on NESN will be moving on from longtime play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo after this season, according to the “Dennis and Callahan Morning Show” on WEEI.

Orsillo has been calling Red Sox games on NESN since 2001. He has developed great chemistry in the booth alongside color commentator Jerry Remy and the duo seem to have a knack for keeping their audience entertained even when viewers may have lost interest in the game itself. It’s not easy to hold an audience during a blowout when the game is out of hand early, but these two do it well together. Despite their popularity, NESN appears intent on breaking them up.

"“I don’t know if I’m breaking it,” said Gerry Callahan during Tuesday morning’s show. “[Glenn] Ordway said this a month ago on the air, said there were big changes coming to NESN, and now we’re hearing, the rumblings are loud and clear now that — and I don’t get it — and I was going to ask you guys if you felt that there was a need for a change. They are moving on from Don Orsillo.”"

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The report comes as a surprise considering the popularity of Orsillo, who has done a fine job in his role for well over a decade. The discussion on D&C seemed to suggest that NESN was looking to clean the slate after two straight disappointing seasons from the Red Sox, as if a decline in ratings is Orsillo’s fault rather than the result of the poor product that the team has put out on the field.

The report also indicates that NESN will cut back on Remy’s role, reducing his time in the booth to 40 games next season. The remaining games will be split among a number of former players that will rotate through the color commentator role. Remy has missed time over the last few seasons due to health and family issues, so we can expect to see some of the same people that have filled in for him during those times step into the booth again.

D&C mentioned Dennis Eckersley, Jim Rice, Lou Merloni and Steve Lyons as potential options to fill the rotation. While each of them has the ability to handle the role, it will be difficult for Orsillo’s replacement to develop any chemistry in the booth if his partner keeps changing so frequently.

Orsillo has done a fantastic job in his role with NESN. It’s not just what he provides as a play-by-play guy, but also everything he contributes to other NESN programming, conducting live in-game interviews with guests in the booth and his rapport with the audience. A lot of people can sit there and describe the action on the field, but it takes a special talent to keep an audience engaged during stretches where there isn’t much action going on. Baseball can be a long, drawn out game played at a slow pace, but Orsillo has become a master of filling in the dull moments.

The Red Sox and NESN have yet to confirm the move, but WCVB sports anchor Mike Lynch reports that Dave O’Brien will take over Orsillo’s role next season. O’Brien currently serves as the play-by-play announcer on the Red Sox Radio Network, alongside Red Sox Hall of Famer Joe Castiglione.

Orsillo is expected to remain in the booth for the rest of this season. Just like the Red Sox, he’s merely playing out the string the rest of the way. The difference is that the Red Sox will have a chance to regroup and bounce back in 2016. Orsillo will have to find somewhere else to do so.

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