The start to tonight’s World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants signals a simultaneous beginning to ESPN’s wall-to-wall coverage of the Fall Classic.
ESPN Radio has all the games live (starting at 7 p.m. ET) with Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser calling the action and Baseball Tonight, SportsCenter, ESPN.com, ESPN Deportes and ESPN International will each have a presence at each game site.
But it’s in Bristol, Conn., on the third floor of Building 4, in the 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter work “pod” where the true heartbeat of the World Series will be beating in the form of SC producer and Detroit-area native Tom DeCorte.
“One of my all-time favorite sports memories was being at the last game at Tiger Stadium with family and friends in 1999,” said DeCorte, 36. “So much of our youth was spent at the old ballpark. That day was so much more than a sporting event for us. It felt like the closing chapter of our youth and the beginning of the next phase of our life.”
Well into that phase now, DeCorte’s Tiger pride has not diminished in the least. But, as his colleagues attest, it doesn’t affect his job in any noticeable way.
“Tom is a pro so there’s no way his love for his team impacts the on-air product in any way,” said SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy. “However, it’s what the audience can’t hear that I can, where his allegiance comes through.
“I believe it was after I did a Tigers playoff victory highlight and after the final out I got a “Hell Yeah!” in my ear. I actually enjoy it as a solid reminder that we’re all sports fans and it’s not so serious.”
DeCorte’s impressive knowledge of all sports — and especially baseball — is a great asset for the show.
“You better bring your ‘A’ game if you want to talk Tigers baseball with Tom,” said SportsCenter senior coordinating producer Tim McHugh. “And whatever you do, don’t bring up Jose Valverde’s name to him — still a sore subject!”
“Fortunately,” DeCorte joked, “I was off when Jose Valverde blew up in the the ninth inning of Game 1 of the ALCS [against the New York Yankees] before the Tigers came back and won. That would have been interesting.”
While the next couple of weeks are sure to be taxing as DeCorte rides the emotional roller coaster of postseason baseball, it won’t affect his job.
“As a producer, I try to never let the teams I root for get in the way of producing the show,” he said. “Ultimately, if I produce a show for Detroit fans only, that doesn’t serve most of the country. Part of what makes producing SportsCenter so enjoyable is my job is to be a fan of all sports and every team, that’s something I relish.”