Sean McDonough
Born May 13, 1962 (age 54)

Boston, Massachusetts

Sports commentary career
Sports Major League Baseball
National Hockey League
NCAA Basketball
NCAA Football
PGA Tour
National Football League

Sean McDonough (born May 13, 1962) is an American sportscaster, currently employed by ESPN.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life and career[edit | edit source]

The son of Boston Globe sportswriter Will McDonough, Sean graduated from Syracuse University in 1984. It was in Syracuse where McDonough began his broadcasting career in 1982 as the play-by-play announcer for the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League. Four years after graduating from Syracuse, he began broadcasting Boston Red Sox games on WSBK-TV (Channel 38) in Boston with former Red Sox catcher Bob Montgomery. McDonough was an Ivy League football announcer for PBS. He was a sideline reporter from 1984 to 1985, and a play-by-play announcer from 1986 to 1987.

CBS Sports[edit | edit source]

He began work for CBS Sports in 1990, where he broadcast college basketball (including 10 NCAA tournaments), college football (including the prestigious Orange Bowl game), the College World Series, the NFL, US Open tennis, three Winter Olympics (bobsled and luge in 1992 and 1994 and ice hockey in 1998), and golf (including four Masters and PGA Championships).

In December 1999, CBS Sports President Sean McManus informed McDonough that his contract wouldn't be renewed. Once Dick Enberg, late of NBC became available, McDonough basically became the odd man out.

Major League Baseball on CBS[edit | edit source]

Outside of New England, he is probably best remembered for his time as CBS's lead baseball announcer, a role in which he was teamed with Tim McCarver. In 1992, at the age of 30, he became the youngest man to announce the national broadcast (and all nine innings of all of the games played) of the World Series. Coincidentally, that particular record would be broken four years later by Fox's 27-year-old Joe Buck, the son of the man McDonough replaced on CBS, Jack Buck.

Technically, Vin Scully, who was 25 when he called his first World Series in 1953, is the youngest man to ever do play-by-play for a World Series. However, unlike Sean McDonough and later, Joe Buck, Scully was there as a representative of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The policy of World Series broadcasters at the time allowed representatives of the participating teams to do alternating play-by-play on the national television broadcasts instead of an actual network employee (as was the case for Scully when he was NBC's lead baseball play-by-play man from 1983 to 1989).

Perhaps Sean McDonough's most famous call is his emotional description of the Atlanta Braves' Francisco Cabrera (who had only 10 at-bats at the major league level that season) getting a dramatic, game-winning base hit in Game 7 of the 1992 National League Championship Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Line-drive and a base-hit! Justice has scored the tying run, Bream to the plate...and he is SAFE! Safe at the plate! The Braves go to the World Series![4] The unlikeliest of heroes wins the National League Championship Series for the Atlanta Braves. Francisco Cabrera, who had only ten at-bats in the major leagues during the regular season, singled through the left side, scoring Sid Bream from second base with the winning run. Bream, who's had five knee operations in his lifetime, just beat the tag from his ex-mate Mike LaValliere, and Atlanta pulls out Game 7 with three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning. This place is bedlam. There will be no second nightmare for Bobby Cox. The final score in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series: the Braves 3 and the Pirates 2.

He also called the final play of the subsequent 1992 World Series, in which the Toronto Blue Jays became the first non-American based team to win the Major League Baseball's world championship:

Nixon bunts! Timlin on it! Throws to first . . . For the first time in history, the world championship banner will fly north of the border! The Toronto Blue Jays are baseball's best in 1992!

A year later, McDonough called Joe Carter's dramatic 1993 World Series ending home run off Mitch Williams of the Philadelphia Phillies:

Well-hit down the left-field line! Way back and GONE! Joe Carter with a three-run homer! The winners and still world champions, the Toronto Blue Jays!

Three years later, while calling the College World Series for CBS alongside Steve Garvey, McDonough called another series clinching home run. This time, it was Warren Morris, who hit a two out, 9th inning walk-off home run that won the 1996 College World Series[5] for the Louisiana State University Fighting Tigers against Miami.

NCAA Basketball on CBS[edit | edit source]

McDonough's other major endeavor at CBS was his coverage of the NCAA Tournament with then-partner (and fellow Irish-American) Bill Raftery. McDonough and Raftery covered a number of regional finals in the 1990s before McDonough's run at CBS came to an end. The pair developed a terrific on-air rapport, thereby enabling McDonough and Raftery to spice up their broadcasts. Before the 1999 South Regional Final between Ohio State and St. John's from Knoxville, Tenn., McDonough and Raftery donned fishing gear as they previewed the game from a boat on the Tennessee River, which was just outside the arena.

In 1998, McDonough—with Raftery at his side—called one of the great buzzer-beaters in NCAA Tournament history, as Connecticut defeated Washington in the East Regional Semifinals on a last-second shot by Richard Hamilton.

ABC/ESPN[edit | edit source]

Since 2000, McDonough has announced baseball, college basketball, college football, and NHL and NCAA hockey for ABC and ESPN. Specifically, McDonough announces many Big East college football and basketball events. He has also contributed to ESPN's coverage of the U.S. Open and British Open golf tournaments, and called the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championships Final Four alongside Quint Kessenich.

It was McDonough calling the play-by-play on March 12, 2009 on ESPN between UConn and Syracuse which went into 6 overtimes, becoming the longest game in Big East history clocking 3 hours and 46 minutes. The final score was 127–117 in favor of Syracuse. Also on the broadcast was color commentary from Bill Raftery and Jay Bilas.

On September 28, 2011, McDonough called the nationally televised game in which the Baltimore Orioles came back to defeat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 after Boston closer Jonathon Papelbon came within one strike of closing the game. McDonough called Baltimore's Robert Andino's walk-off single, which occurred only three minutes before Evan Longoria's walk-off home run against the New York Yankees in St. Petersburg gave the Tampa Bay Rays, who trailed the Red Sox by nine games on September 3, the American League Wild Card, as follows:

Lined to left, Crawford playing shallow dives...cannot make the catch! Reimold comes to the plate! He scores! And the Baltimore Orioles stun the Boston Red Sox!

College football and the NFL[edit | edit source]

McDonough was also behind the mic for the fumbled punt in the final seconds of the Michigan State-Michigan football game on October 17, 2015, that resulted in the game-winning touchdown for the Spartans.

Whoa, (the Michigan punter) has trouble with the snap…and the ball is free! It's picked up by Michigan State's Jalen Watts-Jackson…and he scores! On the last play of the game! Unbelievable! (pauses while the team celebrates) Michigan State is still the big boy on the block in the state of Michigan. A shocking ending to this rivalry game.

Starting in 2013, McDonough started play-by-play work for the NFL on ESPN Radio. Others included Ryan Ruocco, Marc Kestecher, and Bill Rosinski, who previously did NFL games for NFL on Westwood One as the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers.

McDonough was named #2 play-by-play announcer for Monday Night Football to call 2 late games beginning in the 2016 season.

Leaving the Red Sox[edit | edit source]

McDonough continued to announce local Red Sox broadcasts during this time, moving over the years to different local stations including WFXT (Channel 25), WABU (Channel 68) and WLVI (Channel 56). In 1996, he was teamed with former Red Sox second baseman Jerry Remy, with whom he worked for nine seasons before McDonough was replaced completely in 2005 by NESN announcer Don Orsillo. McDonough attributed his firing to his salary and disputed talk that his "candor" was to blame.

He later turned down an offer to become the New York Mets play-by-play man on television.

Health[edit | edit source]

In 2012, McDonough had surgery to repair Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome (SCDS), which kept him from working for several months.

Career timeline[edit | edit source]

  • 1982–84: Syracuse Chiefs Radio Play-by-Play
  • 1990–99: College Basketball on CBS Play-by-Play
  • 1991–93: NFL on CBS Play-by-Play
  • 1992–93: MLB on CBS Lead Play-by-Play
  • 1996–99: College Football on CBS Lead Play-by-Play
  • 1996–99: Masters Tournament Hole Announcer
  • 1995–99: College World Series Play-by-Play
  • 1992–94: Bobsled and Luge in Winter Olympics Play-by-Play
  • 1988–2004: Boston Red Sox TV Play-by-Play
  • 1998: Ice Hockey 1998 Winter Olympics Play-by-Play
  • 2000–present: College Basketball on ESPN Play-by-Play
  • 2000–2003, 2009–2015: College Football on ABC and ESPN Play-by-Play
  • 2004–2015: College Football on ESPN Play-by-Play
  • 2010–2014: U.S. Open Hole Announcer
  • 2010–2015: British Open Hole Announcer
  • 2010–11: NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship Play-by-Play
  • 2011–2012: ESPN Monday Night Baseball Play-by-Play
  • 2013–present: NFL on ESPN Radio Play-by-Play
  • 2016–present: ESPN Monday Night Football play-by-play
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