Long-lasting friendship between Krukow, Kuiper
comes across the airwaves
By Daniel Brown, San Jose Mercury News, Monday, June
It happens all the time. Whenever Duane Kuiper has
the temerity to walk around San Francisco without
his Giants broadcasting partner, fans stop him cold.
"The first thing they say is, 'Where's Kruk?' '' he
said. "People think we're attached, that we're
Siamese twins, that we cannot go one place without
Kuiper sometimes explains to astonished onlookers
that Mike Krukow prefers to spend time with his wife
and five children.
Then comes an awkward pause.
"Then they'll say, 'Oh really? We thought you guys
were married,' '' Kuiper said.
The confusion is understandable. After 20 years of
comic bliss, on the field and in the booth, Krukow
and Kuiper have the kind of sweet chemistry that
ought to be the envy of actual married couples.
In baseball, as in love, diamonds are forever.
"How many people get to work with their best
friend?'' is how Krukow put it. "We know that every
day we come to work, we're going to laugh -- hard.''
Kruk and Kuip -- nobody calls them Mike and Duane --
might be the most popular Giants this side of Barry
Bonds. Two decades after they first cracked each
other up in a spring training game, Krukow and
Kuiper have yet to tire of the other's company.
The duo reached a ridiculous level of popularity
this season when the team's official souvenir store
began selling their replica jerseys, 18 years after
Kuiper's last hit and 14 years after Krukow's last
pitch. Sales quickly topped 1,000, prompting
officials to order more.
The Kruk-Kuip bobblehead doll, which spouts the
broadcasters' catch phrases at the press of a
button, helped raise $2,000 at a charity auction.
Electronic Arts picked the duo to serve as the
voices of its hot-selling MVP Baseball 2003 video
Female fans show up at Pacific Bell Park toting
signs that read "Duane's Dames.'' Others wear
T-shirts bearing Krukow's catch phrases, such as the
strikeout salute, "Grab some pine, Meat.''
"The great thing is the interaction between them,''
said retired broadcaster Hank Greenwald, who helped
tutor the duo in their early days. "Here are two
guys who were friends and teammates long before they
stepped into the booth, and that comes across on the
air. From the start, there has been a natural
Unlike at home, there is virtually no chance of
bumping into Kuiper without Krukow while the Giants
are in another city. "He's my road wife,'' Kuiper
joked. On a typical trip, they eat breakfast
together, take walks, work out, do lunch and sit
side by side on the team bus.
As if that isn't enough, Duane and his wife,
Michelle, occasionally spend a weekend in Carmel
with Mike and Jennifer Krukow during the off-season.
Life, it seems, is one long broadcast and their
world one big booth. Just spend a few days with them
on the road. They are off and rolling by breakfast,
with the wisecracks sizzling like bacon in grease.
Reporter: "Duane, what's the dumbest thing Krukow
has said on the air?''
Kuiper: "That's right, Kuip.''
This day, last month in Phoenix, starts like the
others on the road: with a couple of rounds of java
at Starbucks and a large stack of newspapers. They
read the sports pages aloud at times, with Krukow
unearthing things that Kuiper might get a kick out
of and vice versa. Each box score represents
something of an archaeological dig. "Rough debut for
that Padres rookie,'' Krukow said, pointing out an
unsightly pitching line. "Dmitri Young struck out
three times again.''
"We like to point out things we wouldn't want our
names associated with,'' Kuiper explains.
It is 8:30 a.m. when Krukow begins plowing through
the crossword puzzle. He's wearing a Giants hat and
a purple T-shirt that says, "Friends don't let
friends drink white zinfandel.'' Kuiper and Krukow
are across from the team hotel, the Ritz-Carlton, so
they chat with the Giants players and coaches who
straggle in for their morning buzz.
"People say, 'When do you start preparing for a
broadcast?' '' Kuiper said. "Well, we're doing it
right now. We've already read everything in the
paper. And whatever I might have missed, he sees.''
Like any classic couple, they have a cute story
about how they came together. On a rainy spring
training day, March 24, 1983, just as Krukow was
getting ready to throw his first pitch to a fearsome
Milwaukee Brewers lineup, Kuiper called timeout from
second base and came to the mound for a visit.
The pitcher was mystified. Nobody ever halted play
before the first pitch of the game. Krukow, who had
come over in an unpopular trade that sent Joe Morgan
to the Philadelphia Phillies, figured Kuiper wanted
to go over signs. "Instead, he walks up and says,
'Whatever you do, don't let them hit it to me,' ''
Krukow recalled. "Then he patted me on the back,
turned around and walked back to his position.''
The pitcher laughed. He recognized a good wisecrack
when he heard one. Or so he thought. Kuiper, near
the end of a career that included plenty of knee
trouble, was struggling to get loose.
"It turns out he was serious,'' Krukow said, howling
at the memory of groundballs zipping past his second
baseman. "He would take one step, dive and miss it
by 50 feet. I had a rough outing. But I had a place
in my heart for this guy already.''
The elements of that day in Arizona -- a laugh and a
9-0 loss -- set the tone for their three seasons
together. From 1983 to '85, the years Krukow and
Kuiper were on the roster together, the Giants went
207-279 and racked up the most defeats over a
three-year stretch in franchise history. Still, each
credits those years for ultimately making them
better broadcasters. If nothing else, they had to
search through the muck for ways of keeping the game
fresh and fun. They began unleashing the kind of
offbeat humor that would become their hallmark in
Bad baseball, good humor
"Ah, jeez, it was like managing a funny farm,''
Frank Robinson said with a playful cringe in
explaining how he handled Kruk and Kuip. The
Montreal Expos manager guided the Giants in 1981-84.
"They were kooky, goofy people. It was like, 'What
are they going to do next?' ''
When asked for his recollections of Krukow and
Kuiper, former teammate Bob Brenly put it this way:
"Have you talked to their parole officers?'' Brenly,
now the Arizona Diamondbacks' manager, said both
were quick with a zinger from the bench -- at least
on four out of five days. "On days Krukow pitched,
you couldn't even talk to him. Nothing was funny
about anything on those days.''
Besides providing comedy material, playing on lousy
teams had a more practical effect. Kuiper and Krukow
learned to stay riveted to every pitch, reasoning
that the only chance they had of beating a more
talented team was to be smarter. They soaked in the
nuances -- the positioning of cutoff men, the proper
way to back up a base -- that now make for
"If you did what they did, you were going to play
the game right. They were a positive influence on
all the young players,'' said former teammate Mark
Davis, who won the Cy Young Award for the San Diego
Padres in 1989. "I really looked up to them. I'll
put it this way: I've collected two uniforms in my
career. One is from Nolan Ryan and the other from
Kuiper began easing into broadcasting in 1983, when
he took over Morgan's postgame show on KNBR radio.
He realized he was nearing a full-time career change
when a heckler let him have it during his final
"I was standing in the on-deck circle in 1985 when
some leather-lunged guy in the stands screams, 'Kuiper!
Go to the booth -- NOW!' '' he said. "I remember
thinking, 'I'm going to accept this as a
compliment.' A year later, I was in the booth.''
Corey Busch, then the team's executive vice
president, helped orchestrate Kuiper's second career
by pairing him with Morgan when GiantsVision made
its debut in 1986. When Morgan bolted for ESPN after
the 1990 season, and with cable interest in the
Giants on the rise, Busch persuaded Krukow, who had
been Morgan's occasional fill-in, to take
broadcasting more seriously. By '91, Krukow was
doing about 40 games a year, and his chemistry with
Kuiper carried over on the air.
"First and foremost, those guys knew the game, which
is what we were trying to build our broadcasts
around in those days,'' Busch recalled. "We wanted
them to be entertaining, too, but it was more
important to be enlightening. We wanted things
explained not just at the macro level but with all
Kuiper's transition from player to play-by-play man
came effortlessly. Krukow, however, struggled early.
His enthusiasm for making a point ran roughshod over
the action, and he often yapped right through a
pitch. "It was like trying to break a horse,''
Greenwald recalled with a laugh. "He was always
ready to charge ahead with what he was going to say
and not always putting a lot of thought into it.''
Krukow also tended to baffle listeners. He used the
lexicon of the locker room without much
consideration for whether the layman would
understand what he meant by a "hanging banger'' or a
"one-hop seed.'' Krukow's partners urged him to tone
it down, but -- hundreds of broadcasts later -- fans
seem to have met Krukow halfway. The pitcher's
wildly inventive descriptions are now part of his
At his best, Krukow can sound like a cross between
Mr. Baseball and Dr. Seuss. Consider how he
described it when Jesse Foppert made a mistake and
threw an 0-2 pitch down the middle to the
Diamondbacks' Dave Dellucci: "Foppert got pretty
froggy with that fastball. He put one right in
Dellucci's sweet hole.''
A diving stop by the Giants first baseman is
rendered as, "J.T. Snow goes down to his belly to
snuggle up to a line drive.''
An inside pitch that breaks a bat is a "shark
A long practice home run by Bonds is a "a big
The victim of a dugout prank is "a raving yahoolio.''
And, of course, there is "Meat.'' It is the moniker
Krukow slaps on any Giants opponent who does
something weak or stupid. Krukow heard that term
within his first minute in a major league clubhouse,
in 1976. The lanky rookie walked in the door, and
George Mitterwald, the Chicago Cubs' veteran
catcher, alerted his teammates to the arrival of
"When I first started doing broadcasting, I was
talking in a vernacular where nobody knew what the
hell I was talking about,'' Krukow said. "But it
made sense to me. That's the way we talked about
baseball on the bench and in the clubhouse.''
'He hits it high . . .'
Kuiper, meanwhile, has carved his niche with a
rousing home run call. He started doing it on
television broadcasts in the early 1990s, when Matt
Williams was bashing majestic shots around
Candlestick Park. The call comes as a dramatic
trilogy -- "He hits it high! He hits it deep! He
hits it out of here!'' -- and viewers embraced it
from the start. Kuiper fell in love with the call,
too, and began using it on the radio. At least until
Bob Agnew, his boss at KNBR, phoned him after a
broadcast in Denver.
"In his typical warm-and-fuzzy style, Bob says, 'By
the way, I understand that Bonds hit it high and hit
it deep and hit it out of there. But would you mind
telling me where the home run went? Did it go to
right or left or center?' '' Kuiper recalled. "I was
ticked, but he was right. You have to be more
No broadcast featuring Kruk and Kuip is complete
without a tongue-in-cheek riff on the fans in the
crowd. A crooked hat or a dropped foul ball might
keep the duo occupied for several innings,
especially if the score is lopsided. On other days,
they might fixate on a kid eating cotton candy or a
senior ball dude misplaying a shot in foul
"They're unbelievable,'' said Jim Lynch, who directs
Giants television broadcasts and keeps an eye out
for shots that might provide comedic fodder. "There
are some shows that I think are driven by production
people, but our show is announcer-driven. We really
listen to them and try to complement what they're
Before the Giants' game at Arizona on May 21,
something hilarious takes place where, mercifully,
there are no cameras. Shortly before the broadcast,
Kuiper parades into the press-box restroom and
proudly displays several dents on the door. It turns
out that Kuiper bolted in there a few years ago just
a minute before he was supposed to be back on the
air. In his haste to get back to the booth, he
ripped off the door handle and got stuck inside. He
pounded on the door in hopes of a rescue, but it
came too late.
"He didn't make it back until there were two outs in
the inning,'' Krukow said, "and even after he did,
he wasn't worth a damn the rest of the night.''
The two laughed hard, again, as they had since their
first sip of coffee. Then they slipped inside the
broadcast booth for another night of work.
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KEEPING IT REAL IN THE BOOTH
By Michelle Smith, March 29, 1998
Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper. Broadcast partners.
Ex-teammates. Best friends. Mallrats.
"We call it the Great American Gap tour," Kuiper
"We like to go into the Gap in San Diego and tell
them that the store in Atlanta had much better
There are, after all, hours to kill when you spend
six months of the year on the road together during
baseball season. And it's sometimes tough to come up
with creative ways to spend the time. There's only
so much golf to play, stationary bikes to ride and
movies to see.
"We rollerbladed for a year," Kuiper said. "I made
the suggestion about three years ago that we start
rollerblading and take them on the road. Mike was
pretty excited about it."
Krukow called his partner at 9 o'clock one morning
in Chicago, ready to buy his own pair of skates. By
9:30 Krukow and Kuiper were at the sporting goods
store, by 9:45 the purchase had been made.
"And by 10 a.m., Mike had two broken ribs," Kuiper
"We were on Lakeshore, where the water comes right
up and the beach is a bunch of rocks. Mike did a
whirly-bird and landed right on his chest. I wasn't
going to carry him back to the hotel. He had a tough
game that night, he did most of it hunched over."
But it's Kuiper that gave up his skates. As Krukow
shows every day in the Giants broadcast booth, it's
much more difficult to dampen his enthusiasm.
The Giants have perhaps the best top-to-bottom
lineup of broadcasters in baseball. There's the
highly respected Jon Miller, Bay Area legend Lon
Simmons, the talented and affable Ted Robinson, and
then there's Kruk and Kuip, who have established
themselves as an irreverent, entertaining team with
a level of relatability that no one else in the Bay
Area - in any sport - can match.
"People enjoy listening to broadcasters who appear
to like each other," said Hank Greenwald, the Giants
former play-by-play man. "They each have very
different styles. Kruk is enthusiastic, Kuip is more
low key. They give people a high and a low in terms
of balance. It's just a very comfortable
They are two regular guys who have a genuine
affection for one another, who spend three hours a
day in the booth together and much more than that
away from the ballpark.
They are a cross between Abbott and Costello and an
old married couple. During games, Kuiper is the
straight man and Krukow is the class clown, who
refers to his daily duets with Kuiper as "just a
couple of hemorrhoids who love to talk about
Both are fathers with young, active families. Krukow
spent much of the winter taking his five children -
who range in age from 8 to 18 - snowboarding. Kuiper
is strictly a two-planker, "a purist," says Krukow.
"I start talking about snowboarding at breakfast and
he just puts his paper up in front of his face,"
Krukow is up with the sun, ready to unleash his
enthusiasm on the day. Kuiper often tries to take a
nap in the afternoon before a night game.
Both have embraced the information superhighway.
"Kuip wanted nothing to do with the Internet for a
long time, now he's become a total computer nerd,"
Krukow said. "I'm getting ready to buy him patches
for his elbows."
Their relationship has resonated with fans.
"People come up to us all the time and want to talk
baseball, they approach us like we aren't anything
special, we just love the game like they do," Krukow
said. "With Jon or Hank, people come up and say "Mr.
Greenwald' or "Mr. Miller', we get none of that.
It's an aura we just don't have. Who needs it? Auras
Krukow and Kuiper have a friendship that began in
the dugout when the two of them wore Giants uniforms
and passed the time by doing mock broadcasts from
the bench. Each also had postgame shows on their
teams' radio broadcasts at different points in their
As players-turned-broadcasters, they have each
proven a work in progress. And the progress is truly
starting to show.
Kuiper was always a likable, if not dynamic
presence. He now exudes a smoothness and confidence
that have elevated his skills and his charisma as a
broadcaster. The improvement has been particularly
noticeable since Kuiper returned to the Giants after
a year with the Colorado Rockies in 1993.
"His biggest asset is that he's totally relaxed
now," Krukow said. "He has much more confidence and
I think it's been about being able to achieve a good
level of radio play-by-play. Not many guys can leave
the game and do that, that's hard. Now the door is
starting to open for him."
Kuiper also senses a level of comfort that he
credits largely to his partner.
"I've definitely reached a comfort level working
with Mike," Kuiper said. "As far as the radio stuff,
it's just something that the more you do, if you've
got any talent, the better you are going to be."
Krukow, meanwhile, spent the first couple of years
sitting in the booth struggling to let go of his
"I think Mike is reaching the point where he thinks
of himself as a broadcaster first," Greenwald said.
"I think, as a former player, you have to go through
that. Once you stop playing and go into the booth,
your emotions aren't ready. You need a cooling off
period, like detox. Not that you are supposed to
lose your knowledge and insight from a player's
perspective, but you have to learn to curb the
impulse to start cheering."
Robinson remembers sharing the booth with Krukow
during the last game of the epic 1993 season in
which the Giants lost to the Dodgers and lost a
playoff spot to Atlanta.
"I did the last four innings practically on my own.
Mike was so emotionally devastated by the way things
ended and the way it happened. At the end of the
game, he just left," Robinson said. "From that day
to today, that's the biggest advancement he's made.
The ability to speak the truth, not just through
Krukow believes that his sincerity is part of his
"I'm a lot more confident now than I was then. I
have had a very patient audience which has allowed
me to make mistakes and doesn't crucify me when I
do," Krukow said.
"They know I am sincere when I broadcast a ballgame.
That's a strength."
Krukow is as much a network prospect as Bob Brenly
was several years ago before he landed with Fox. He
could do studio work as well as anybody working at
the network level now, but for now, Krukow is quite
happy with the way things are.
"I like who I am working for and who I am working
with," Krukow said. "I think I am good enough to do
anything, but my aspirations are to be with the
Kuiper is also satisfied with his current career
"I'm pretty realistic about those things. I learned
about being realistic as a player," Kuiper said. "I
don't think I'll ever replace Vin Scully. If someone
said, "How high do you want to go,' I'd say I just
really want to do a good job here."