What was it like to experience the most bizarre baseball season ever? Aside from players and staff on the field, no one may know better than the broadcasters who gave viewers and listeners the play-by-play commentary of the shortened 2020 baseball season, played amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were in quarantine and we didn’t know what was gonna happen with the baseball season. Whether we would have one. Whether we would have 60 or 100 games. I thought it would be good to journal everything just in case,” said Tim Nevrett ’88, Los Angeles Dodgers TV and radio broadcaster.
It was a prescient idea. The day-by-day account he kept of the baseball season turned into a recently released book, COVID Curveball: An Inside View of the 2020 Los Angeles Dodgers World Championship Season.
Neverett got the idea to write the book while hiking in New Hampshire with his wife, Jess, and their dog, Reggie. The book is a chronicle of the truncated 60-game season that resulted in a World Series title for the Dodgers. It shows readers what it was like to broadcast during an unprecedented season amid strict COVID rules, when Neverett couldn’t travel with the team during away games (he still doesn’t), crowd noise was pumped in, and cardboard cutout fans filled stadium seats.
“It was a challenging adjustment we had to make, calling stuff off of monitors during away games because you can’t see everything you normally would look for,” said Neverett. “That, and adjusting to the new health and safety protocols every single day.”
Neverett’s book is filled with stories about the unique circumstances of the season, such as what happened when the Houston Astros came to town and the wildlife that he encountered after games at night. A forward is written by Dodgers legend Orel Hershiser, bridging the last World Series title the team won in 1988 to its championship in 2020.
A veteran sports broadcaster, Neverett has also announced basketball and football games, as well as the Olympics. He was a play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2009-2015, and broadcast Boston Red Sox games on the Red Sox Radio Network from 2016-2018. He started broadcasting for the Dodgers in 2019.
“The Red Sox fan base can be a little more high-strung [compared to the Dodgers]. I don’t mean that in a bad way. They’re just very much into every single pitch. While the Dodgers fan base is also into it, they are a little bit more laid back,” said Neverett.
Related: ‘Never Say Never’ Says Red Sox Announcer Neverett
In addition to his broadcasting duties, Nevrett also serves as a faculty member, teaching Sports Broadcasting. When asked about what advice he’d give to students hoping to follow his career path, Neverett said never say no.
“Do as much as you can. Try to create opportunities where there are none, if you can. Internships are vitally important,” said Neverett, who has three sons. “Aim high. Think big and go after it. Never let anybody tell you that you can’t do something.”
That’s advice that Nevrett has followed throughout his own life. While he was a student at Emerson, Neverett says he wanted to do the first play-by-play commentary for men’s basketball on WECB, Emerson’s student-run radio station. He came up with a plan and bought the necessary equipment to do it.
As he tells it, Neverett and a fellow classmate ran a 100-foot telephone cable from the athletic director’s office at Don Bosco Technical High School, where the Lions once played, under the gym stands to a table mid-court. He took a phone’s handset, unscrewed the mouthpiece end, removed the microphone, connected alligator clips to exposed prongs, and plugged into a mixing board—allowing him to transmit his voice live from the gym to the radio station. It was a trick he’d learnt at 19, broadcasting as a fill-in play-by-play announcer for the Nashua (New Hampshire) Pirates, a Minor League baseball team.
He’s come a long way from those days.
“The better the Internet has gotten, the better we’ve been able to provide really detailed information almost instantly to the listener or viewer,” said Neverett. “It’s different because you can communicate with people in multiple ways over multiple platforms now. We didn’t have instant feedback from social media before. Now, I use it to find people who are bona fide sources during a game.”
When asked about what he’d like readers to take away from his book, Neverett says he wants people to understand how strange the 2020 season was and what people had to go through to put on a baseball game.
“Baseball has always helped the country heal during difficult times in the past. We were able to provide a distraction to people during one of the toughest years in the country’s history,” said Nevrett.