Interview with Dave Sims

by Ken Fang on July 29, 2009

Dave Sims is one of the busiest play-by-play announcers in the business. He’s shares play calling duties for the Seattle Mariners with Hall of Famer Dave Niehaus on FSN Northwest. During NFL season, he calls Sunday Night Football for Westwood One Radio. And Dave also calls college basketball games and the NCAA Tournament for Westwood One as well.

Dave has called Big East football and basketball games for ESPN Regional Television as well as ESPN. He also worked for CBS during the NCAA Tournament in the 1990′s. Dave has also been a local TV sports anchor and play-by-play man in New York and Boston winning Emmy Awards in both markets.

He’s covered the 1988 Summer Olympics for NBC and started his broadcasting career at the old WNBC where he was the host of SportsNight with a young Mike Breen, now ESPN/ABC’s main NBA play caller, as his producer. Dave has also worked at WFAN as the co-host of the popular midday show, “Cole Man and the Soul Man” with Ed Coleman.

During the offseason, when he has an offseason, Dave and his wife, Abby run a media consulting firm, Athletisense, which helps athletes in media training as well as giving important life skills when their careers are over. I’ll let Dave explain more in the interview.

Over the last two days, I’ve conducted an e-mail interview with one of the best play-by-play announcers today and this is what transpired.

Fang’s Bites: You’re one of the busiest play-by-play men in the business with the Mariners, NFL and college basketball, plus you’re bi-coastal. How do you manage to balance it all?

Dave Sims: It’s what I do. The Mariners gig is a great one. I’m totally into it. The biggest part of the story is that my wife, Abby, is a superstar. She runs a Manhattan based physical therapy practice and maintains our household. She flies to Seattle or wherever we are on most weekends. We’ve been married 27-years this October.

During the NFL season, I work out of our NYC home.

As for college hoops, I am not doing as much on TV as I did in the past. One has to get some rest. I will be involved in some regular season Westwood One Radio games, and then the tournament. I step away from Mariners spring training to do the tourney.

FB: This season, you’ve had the chance to see Ken Griffey, Jr. every day and you got to see the seed planted for his return (in 2007) during Ken Griffey, Jr. Day at Safeco. Describe seeing that come to fruition from then until Junior’s return.

DS: He came back to Seattle with the Reds in 2007. What an outpouring of love for him from the fans. That love returned during the home opener. I wasn’t here during his younger days. His record speaks for itself. His value as a future Hall of Famer, as a great teammate cannot be calculated. Never mind his current batting average. After all, he is 39-years old. Great guy!

FB: The M’s have had an up and down season, but are still over .500.Do you feel they’ll be buyers or sellers before the trade deadline?

DS: After losing 11-4 to Toronto Monday night, the fourth consecutive loss,getting outscored 42-10, I think anything can and will happen.

FB: You’re quite versatile in calling three different sports. What is your philosophy in calling each sport as each has its own different pace?

DS: Baseball is obviously not as explosive as football, so I really had to learn to gear it down and be even more conversational. I enjoy the challenge. Football is so dramatic for so much of the game, especially on radio. I put a huge premium on describing what’s happening on the field. Same for college hoops. And obviously on TV, the tone is more interactive with the analyst. I like the changing of speeds.

FB: You do play-by-play on TV and radio. Which medium do you prefer and why?

DS: I really love both, but I’d give radio the nod by the thinnest of a hair margin. Radio is so much more visceral for me because you get to project the action and emotions to the audience through your words and voice.

FB: Who are some of your favorite on-air partners?

DS: Bob Trumpy, Doc Walker, Jeff Bostic, Bill Raftery, John Congemi, Jay Bilas, Jim Spanarkel, Kevin Grevey.

FB: Is true to say that you really don’t have an offseason unlike many announcers who focus on one or two sports?

DS: I have a bit of an off-season, usually coming after the NFL playoffs. Again, I’m not doing much Big East hoops, other than a few in the NYC area. During November and December I am doing just the Sunday Night Football games. That gives me a chance to take it down several notches compared to doing baseball every night.

FB: You hosted a talk show at the late, great WNBC-AM in New York with a young Mike Breen as your producer. Any stories you can tell us about him and could you tell he wanted to do play-by-play?

DS: It was obvious that he was going to get into play-by-play. Great guy. Terrific, loyal and hardworking producer. We used to break each other chops about what was better, college hoops or pro. Then, I was doing the Knicks wraparound shows on radio. He was the college hoops guy. Crazy how the roles became reversed over the years. He and (co-producer) Dominic Tringali did a super job of producing “WNBC SportsNight”.

FB: With you having been a sports talk show host both before and after the birth of sports radio, what do you think of sports radio today?

DS: Too much of sports talk radio is too reactionary and incendiary and not enough listening. Not every issue is a hardcore right or wrong. Gray area is huge. Not every issue can be solved nicey-nice like in a sit-com. How about getting to know people.

FB: From the Olympics to the NCAA Tournament to the NFL and MLB, can you choose your Top 3 moments that you’ve had the opportunity to cover?

DS: Top 3 moments:

  • 1988 Olympic Men’s 100 meter final where Ben Johnson (juiced to the gills) beat Carl Lewis.
  • George Mason upsetting UConn to reach the Final Four
  • Any of the NFL conference title games that I’ve done the last four yrs.

Pittsburgh beating Baltimore this past January was good. An NFL divisional game where the Eagles beat Green Bay in Philly when McNabb completed a 4th and 36 to Freddie Mitchell was darn good.

FB: As you’re one of the few African American play-by-play men in the business, do you see any young minority play-by-play men in your travels around the country?

DS: No, I haven’t. I do know that Mike Claiborne is doing St. Louis Cardinals baseball on the radio. Eric Collins, does Dodgers road TV games. I hope there are a bunch of young guys coming up through the college ranks that I haven’t seen.

FB: Can you talk about your what you do off-camera with AthletiSense?

DS: Before the Mariners gig, Abby and I spent about seven summers working Division I football and basketball programs around the country teaching young athletes communications skills that can best serve them in dealing with the media and in college life. Most recently, we worked with the University of Washington’s football team in September 2008. During the summer of 2007, Abby worked individually with Boston College QB Matt Ryan and Rutgers RB Ray Rice. As you can see from our website, we worked some of the elite programs in the country with great success. We did seminars and individual work when we went on campus.

Included was interviews with the elite players who figured to be subject of the media attention. We’d interview the players and play it back offering critiques on their performance. It is rewarding work. Pitt’s Carl Krauser and West Virginia’s Mike Gansy were named the best interviewees in the Big East after we worked with them.

I thank Dave for taking the time to do the interview. Please visit his website as well as the AthletiSense site for more information.

We have a couple of more interviews in the well and I’ll let you know about those as the time comes.

  • Bruce

    Nice Interview, Ken.

  • Fang's Bites

    Thanks, boss. Much appreciated.

  • Fang's Bites

    Thanks, boss. Much appreciated.

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