After 5,000 games, Cremin reflects on work
Mariners producer/engineer has fine-tuned broadcasts since hire in 1983
SEATTLE -- The running joke with Kevin Cremin is that Kevin is his middle name. For those who listen to Mariners radio broadcasts, his first name has melded into "Producer/Engineer," which is what happens when you're introduced for every game over 32 years as "Producer/Engineer Kevin Cremin."
Most Mariners fans might not know Cremin's face or even his voice, but they are certainly familiar with his work, which is to direct traffic and keep things running behind the scenes for radio announcers Rick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith and for many years, Dave Niehaus, the man who helped get Cremin hired in 1983.
Cremin worked his 5,000th Mariners game on Friday night, a number that doesn't include another 600-plus Spring Training broadcasts.
What does it mean?
"It means you're getting old," said Rizzs, who started with the Mariners the same season as Cremin, but spent three years in Detroit from 1992-94.
Rizzs knows better than anyone what Cremin means to the Mariners' broadcast crew as he works seamlessly with his longtime cohort in radio booths across the country on a daily basis.
"If there was a Hall of Fame for producer/engineers, Kevin would be the first inductee," Rizzs said. "He not only sets up the equipment -- that's the least of what he does -- he's the producer and understands the game of baseball. He loves the game of baseball. He listened to it and watched it for many years while growing up in Tulsa, Okla. He knows what a good broadcast should sound like, all the elements that go into a broadcast. He's just great at what he does.
"On top of that, I love him like a brother. We all love him. You're attached at the hip every day for seven months, and he's a great guy who cares a great deal about the product and what the fans want to listen to in a broadcast. He gets it. He gets all of that and more. He's the best."
Cremin, 61, remembers his first broadcast with the Mariners, a Spring Training game in 1983. He'd never been a radio producer before, having previously worked in the circulation department of the Tulsa World & Tribune newspaper for eight years after graduating from the University of Oklahoma.
But a friend who worked as a producer with the Royals had Cremin help out on a couple Mariners road broadcasts in Kansas City in 1982. His job was to keep track of out-of-town scores during games, then take a microphone and headphones down to the clubhouse and hand them to a postgame guest to be interviewed by the announcers up in the booth.
And Cremin found a friend in Niehaus.
"I did both series when they were in town, then Dave called and asked if I'd want the job in Seattle," said Cremin. "I said, 'Yeah, that'd be great, Dave. But I don't know anything about it.' And he said, 'Ah, they'll teach you.' And they did."
Cremin barely knew what he was getting into, but he knew he needed to get up to speed in a hurry.
"That first year, Margaret and I got married and loaded the U-haul and drove out here from Tulsa," he said. "We had time to find a place to live, and five days later I'm in Arizona. And a couple days after that, we're doing our first game.
"I was very nervous. I'm sure my hands were shaking on those dials, because I'd never done anything like that before. I was not trained to be a radio engineer at all, I just happened on the job by helping them the previous season, and I got along with Dave. I kind of ram-rodded it through, and here we are."
Cremin said he never dreamed he'd wind up turning the gig into a full-time career.
"All I knew was I really enjoyed doing it," he said.
And that hasn't changed, even after 32 years and 5,000 games.
"You meet a lot of really great people," Cremin said. "And you're at a ballpark going to a ballgame every day. That's pretty hard to beat."