As a seven-time Emmy award-winning broadcaster, Duane Kuiper has called some epic moments in San Francisco Giants history, including Matt Cain’s perfect game, the final out of the 2010 World Series win for the Giants’ first title since 1954 and Barry Bonds’ iconic home runs, number 715 to pass Babe Ruth and record-breaker number 756 to pass Hank Aaron.
Kuiper, the player, had a solid career in his own right. At the age of 24, he made his major league debut for the Cleveland Indians on September 9, 1974, as a late-inning replacement for starting second baseman Jack Brohamer. His major league career lasted until the end of the 1985 season. He had a respectable .277 batting average, played stellar defense with a career fielding percentage of .983.
Now let’s set the scene on that August 29, 1977 night when “Kuip” became an icon. In front of a “rowdy” Cleveland Municipal Stadium crowd of 6,236 people and a nationally televised game, Kuiper strolled to the plate in the first inning. In only his 1,382nd at-bat of his career, he muscled up on a 1-0 slider that he crushed over Sox’ right fielder Wayne Nordhagen and cleared the wall by about a foot.
The game itself was supposed to start originally at 7:30 p.m. However, due to it being nationally televised, the network pushed the start time back to 8:40 p.m. The umpires then came out at 8:33 p.m and told the White Sox’ starting pitcher Steve Stone, they were starting the game right now. Stone, who himself was born in Cleveland, quipped that he “pleaded with the umpires for extra time to warm up. They gave me one minute and started the game. I wasn’t ready to pitch in that first inning and had nothing”.
After retiring as a player after the 1985 season, Kuiper moved into the broadcast booth where he has been calling games for the Giants for the last 33 years, with the exception of 1993, when he called games for the Colorado Rockies. Even before his playing career was over, Kuiper was destined to be a broadcaster after his playing was over as he had a radio show in San Francisco from 1982-1985. He even has a developed an iconic home run call where Kuiper excitedly calls out: “He hits it high, he hits far, he hits it deeeeep…that ball is out of here!!!”
On that August 29th night in 1977, Kuip did not hit it that high, that far or that deep but it was out of here. It was his first and only career home run in 3379 at-bats. He is the only player in major league history with at least 2,500 ABs to only have one round-tripper. And Mr Kuiper an icon for sure.