By Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY
This feature was published
on USAToday.com on June 21, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO In the fourth inning of an early
June game between San Francisco and the Florida
Marlins, TV play-by-play man Duane Kuiper tells
the Giants audience the broadcast will cut away
for a recap of the Oakland Athletics' game.
From Cleveland, baby brother and A's
play-by-play announcer Glen Kuiper describes how
Eric Chavez's two-run homer helped Oakland
defeat the Indians in another production shown
by Fox Sports Net Bay Area. He then tosses it
back to Duane in San Francisco.
The exchange is coordinated by middle brother
Jeff, who's producing the later game from a
truck just outside San Francisco's AT&T Park.
At the family farmhouse in Sturtevant, Wis., on
the outskirts of Racine, father Henry Kuiper
watches the Giants game and doesn't think twice
about having two of his sons talking to each
other over the air. To him this is just another
game they're calling, among the hundreds he has
Baseball has a tradition of sons following
fathers into the booth. Jack and Joe Buck.
Harry, Skip and Chip Caray. Marty and Thom
The Kuipers have set a different family path
begun with Duane's 12-season major league career
as the only such trio working Major League
Baseball telecasts, according to FSN and the
Giants. Their brotherly bonds are just as tight
as those of announcing fathers and sons, but
they grew up in an environment considerably less
conducive to broadcasting careers.
Unless countless hours spent atop a tractor
qualify as a primer for TV work.
"Those guys watched their father from a very
small age be an announcer," Glen, 43, says days
before his father arrives for this weekend's
A's-Giants series. "We watched our father from a
very young age work his butt off."
The brothers and sister Kathy, the owner of a
hair salon just outside Milwaukee, grew up on a
300-acre farm where their father, a former
fast-pitch softball player, raised dairy cows
before switching to beef cattle and grains.
Their mother, Annette, who died in 1992, cooked
three meals a day, all eaten at the family
table, and ran a tight household.
Whether farming or sports was the predominant
theme depends on who's telling the story, but
there's no doubt both were tightly intertwined
in the family fabric, as was the importance of
working hard. The brothers can't recall a day
when they didn't have some farm work to do.
"Cry and moan as we did, we were out there,"
says Duane, 56. "It developed work ethic, and it
also developed excuses on why we didn't want to
do it. We came up with some lame ones, too."
Planning for a second career
Dairy farmers generally don't like to have other
people milk their cows, a procedure that needs
to be done twice a day, so the Kuipers didn't
The first time Henry and Annette saw a mountain
was on a family drive to Reno to see Duane play
in a minor league game. He went on to a
big-league career as an infielder with the
Indians and Giants.
"Definitely, baseball was the centerpiece," says
Jeff, 49. "The first vacations I can remember
going on were baseball-related to see Duane
play. The first flight I ever took on an
airplane was to go to the College World Series,
to Omaha, because Duane was playing."
Through his baseball career and later in
broadcasting, Duane blazed a trail that led to
the brothers reuniting in the Bay Area. Those
who know them say that was inevitable.
"I don't know if I've ever seen three brothers
that are closer than these guys," says TV
director Jim Lynch, who has worked alongside
Jeff for almost 20 years. "If one of them moved
to Iceland, I think they would all move to
Duane, a career .271 hitter who famously
finished with only one home run in 3,379
at-bats, dabbled in small-time radio when he was
with the Indians from 1974-81, then paired with
Joe Morgan on a pregame show after being traded
to the Giants before the 1982 season.
Both moved to a new television venture, Giants
Vision, in 1986, the year after Kuiper retired
as a player. Except for a one-year stint with
the Colorado Rockies in 1993, Kuiper has been
calling Giants games on over-the-air TV (now
KTVU), cable and radio since.
He has partnered with former pitcher Mike Krukow
for the last 16 years, forming what Sports
Illustrated described last December as "the best
broadcasting team in baseball."
Kuiper even made his way into the Hall of Fame
with his call of Barry Bonds' 715th career home
run "Bonds hits one high. Hits it deep to
center. Out of here, 715" sent to Cooperstown.
The radio call of the moment Bonds passed Babe
Ruth for second on the all-time list was
silenced due to a technical glitch.
Jon Miller, who calls Giants games on KTVU with
Krukow and on radio with Kuiper when not doing
ESPN's Sunday night broadcast, says he
appreciates the passion both bring to the game.
"Never once in all these years have I heard
either of them say, 'Let's hope for a quick game
tonight.' " Miller says.
Finishing each other's thoughts
Jeff Kuiper's baseball career didn't advance
past college. But he remains a student of the
game and its history.
Jeff, who holds a masters degree in sports
administration from Kent State, landed a job
with This Week in Baseball in 1983 through a
contact of Duane's. Three-and-a-half years later
he joined Giants Vision as a producer.
His working relationship with Duane is so
effortless that one can literally finish the
other's sentences. From the truck, Jeff will
remind him of a promo and Duane picks it right
up, sometimes sounding like an echo because
their voices are so alike.
Before a recent game, Duane was telling a story
of their dad always promising the kids he would
take them to a nearby lake if the temperature
reached 95 degrees.
As Jeff walks by, Duane asks him what the
required temperature reading was. "Ninety-five,"
Jeff says without hesitation. "Something that
hasn't happened in Wisconsin in like the last 30
years but for three or four times."
Adds Duane: "We spent half our summers looking
at the thermometer 91, 92. And he would
eventually take us anyway."
Youngest out on his own
The brothers, whom have all won multiple
Northern California Emmys, enjoyed several
seasons working together beginning in 1992, when
Glen started doing a few Giants pregame shows.
His responsibilities expanded to sideline
reporting and postgame interviews, and he
branched out to the NFL, NBA, NHL and college
After playing two years as a middle infielder in
the low minors for the San Diego Padres and St.
Louis Cardinals in the mid-'80s, Glen completed
his degree in broadcasting at San Francisco
State. He worked a number of odd jobs, including
keeping stats on the Candlestick Park
His familiarity with the TV folks, his
background and constant presence at the ballpark
earned him an on-camera opportunity.
The trio split up in 2004 when Glen moved across
the Bay to do play-by-play for the A's. He's
their lead TV announcer, calling 88 games a
season for FSN and KICU.
The job change keeps him from seeing much of his
brothers during the season, but it has allowed
Glen to establish his identity.
"Over there with the Giants, I was Duane's
little brother," he says. "I'm not Duane's
little brother with the A's. I am one of the A's
Farming for a new line of work
Much as he did when they played, their father,
81, watches all their games. He has no regrets
that none of his kids went into farming. He
planted his last crop two years ago and enjoyed
working the land, a family occupation passed
down from his parents, who emigrated from
He had to help out from a young age and didn't
go to high school, so he didn't want his kids to
miss out on an education. He was an athlete,
too, an accomplished fast-pitch softball player
who pitched into his 40s.
"We see a lot of cases where the farmer's sons
don't really want to farm, but they kind of get
pushed into it. That really doesn't last," he
says. "If they're doing something worthwhile and
something they like, let them go."
For the Kuipers, that endeavor has been baseball
broadcasting, a rather improbable turn of events
given their background.
"When you sit on a tractor for eight hours by
yourself, you think about a lot of different
things," Glen says. "But I never thought about
working in the TV business with both my