Five Questions for Dave O’Brien;
Red Sox Broadcaster

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How many kids who grow up in New England loving the Boston Red Sox ever make it to the big leagues?

Not many, but Dave O’Brien is one of them.

The 59-year-old, who spent the first 12 years of his life before moving to New Hampshire, is a familiar voice for Boston Red Sox fans. 

O’Brien began calling Red Sox games on WEEI alongside Joe Castiglione in 2007. And in 2016, he replaced Don Orsillo as the play-by-play man during the Red Sox television broadcasts.

O’Brien has been a college and professional sports broadcaster for more than 30 years. He has called football, basketball, baseball, and even FIFA World Cup soccer games on ABC in 2006.

NewBostonPost conducted an email interview with O’Brien about his career working in professional sports. 


1.  Red Sox nation suffered a huge loss following the 2021 season when longtime color commentator Jerry Remy died. You worked alongside Remy for several years.  What was your funniest moment with him?

… Rem was funny. He would have Eck and I in tears before we went on air, and that will be one memory.

I’ll cherish those hours before the first pitch, when Jerry got on a roll. And a couple years ago, we were out in Seattle playing the Mariners. The big concession item there is toasted grasshoppers. They can’t keep them stocked. Guerin Austin was on the trip and she decided to bring some up to the booth. Jerry tried one — pretty damn brave, I thought, because they are very spicy. Over and above the fact it’s an insect. 

Middle of the game. He pops one in, and in 10 seconds he starts to turn about 4 shades of green. Stopped him cold. As we all know, he’s a very tough guy. Toughest man I ever met. But he couldn’t function, and immediately regretted doing it. The look in his eye was, “I may never speak again.” Rem would try anything once, which always impressed me. I’ll miss him so much.


2.  You were on the call for two of the biggest home runs in Major League Baseball history in the span of a few days in 2007:  Barry Bonds tying Hank Aaron for the all-time home run record, as well as Bonds surpassing Aaron for sole possession of number one on the list. Going into games like that, do you have a call prepared for those moments or do you just sort of go with the flow?

You always have an idea of what you want to say, but not a script — that would sound inauthentic. Most of the time, it just comes out anyway. 

When Big Papi hit his grand slam in the 2013 ALCS, someone asked me why I repeated “David Ortiz” three times during the call, and it was just out of disbelief at what he did — which he did over and over again in his career.

The Bonds watch was different, because those moments were inevitable. Barry Bonds was going to break Hank Aaron’s home run record. I thought the call had to document the numbers, the feat, but also tonally needed to reflect how people felt about it at the time. 

Outside of San Francisco, the country didn’t believe Bonds was the true home run king, that he was a steroid creation. I feel that way too. The Giants announcers came out of their chairs with excitement I’m sure, and that reflected their audience. But I couldn’t. Posterity will judge that moment, and I thought the national call on ESPN had to reflect the national mood.


3.  You’re on the road for half of a 162-game schedule that spans six months. What’s your worst experience in a hotel on the road?

I wouldn’t say this was a bad experience, but it was unique:  when I broadcast for the Florida Marlins, there was a beat writer at the Sun-Sentinel newspaper down there who happened also to be “Dave O’Brien.” Fine reporter and a good pal. But Dave usually stayed at the same hotel the Marlins did, and that led to some problems. 

I’m married, and Dave was a young, single guy.  More than once I had calls mistakenly put through to my room, late at night, from a Tina or Lisa looking for my namesake. I decided to put an end to that by registering under an assumed name. I chose “Placido Domingo” … Loved the sound of it. 

It worked for a while. Until one evening I ordered room service. When it came, I opened the door to find the entire kitchen and front office staff at my door — with champagne, flowers, gifts — and a lot of very disappointed faces. “I’m Placido’s manager. He’s in the shower, but wants you to know he loves you all,” I said. Felt terrible. And from then on, I registered under “Mel Smith.”


4.  Bob Costas once told a story about calling a game involving a team he didn’t know and without a program giving the players’ names. What’s the hardest game you ever had to call?

Might have been [2021], on the same day I got my second Moderna shot. Figured I could do the shot at like 2 p.m. and call the game at 7, because I’d sailed through the first shot. No side effects at all, no issues. But I wasn’t that lucky with #2. About the 2nd inning, I started feeling really warm — and began getting a fever. Had a thermometer with me, and in between innings would check my temperature. 99 … 99.8 … 100.4 … 101.3 … And naturally, the Sox played like 12 innings that night. Great win, walk off game-winner …

Peaked at like 102. I have absolutely no idea what I said. Almost positive I had Fred Lynn making a dazzling catch in center and Bernie Carbo walking it off. Delirious. 


5.  Who was your favorite player growing up in all four major sports, and why?

Larry Bird was my all-time favorite in anything, all time. As a high school kid growing up in New Hampshire, Larry was a god to all of us. Really, that entire starting five was. Adored Dennis Johnson too.  Bird was in his prime and the Celtics were unbelievable. 

Derek Sanderson was my favorite Bruin. Those short-handed goals. That mustache. Brash, outspoken. 

The Patriots were the least successful and least popular of the 4 majors when I grew up, hard to believe today. So I picked an out-of-town team for my football team, and Joe Montana and the ’49ers were on TV every Sunday in the second game of the day. And he was the coolest guy on the field. He was Larry Bird on the gridiron. Clutch, confident, invincible. 

And Yaz was, and still is, larger than life for me. Even after meeting him for the first time — and I again thank Jerry Remy for that — I can’t get over it. Every little leaguer on the South Shore held the bat a mile over their heads, like Carl did, even the right-handed hitters. Yaz WAS the Boston Red Sox. I think he got a hit in every game my dad ever took me to at Fenway.


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