Dan Baker, the ‘Voice of CBP,' back where he belongs


Phillies games at Citizens Bank Park in 2020 were unlike any other. They were played in front of 45,000 empty seats. There was no roar from the crowd, except for a dozen-or-so diehards that peered through the iron center field gates on step-stools to watch a fraction of the field.

There were no peanuts or Cracker Jack.

You could argue the fact that there was no relief pitching.

There was also no Dan Baker, the ubiquitous public address announcer, synonymous with Phillies home games for a half-century.

Baker stayed away from the game for the 2020 season because of health problems. He underwent a 24-hour surgery to remove a tumor in his sinus in mid-August. There was an infection, a six-week hospital stay, and subsequent radiation treatments. 

As the world inches toward normalcy in 2021, Phillies games are being played in front of fans again. Baker’s latest scan, he’s happy to share, was cancer-free.

And the Voice of Citizens Bank Park is back for his 49th season on the mic. He is the longest-tenured PA announcer in baseball, and as far as I can tell, any of the four major North American sports.

During his time away from the game, the team frequently let him know that his booth would be waiting for him upon his return.

“The Phillies have been so encouraging and supportive through this process," Baker said. "They let me know, whenever I’m ready, and for however many games I think I’m capable of announcing, they’d be glad to have me. They asked me, ‘How many games do you think you can do?’ I said ’81!’ That’s what I’m shooting for.”

And after his long journey back to his familiar spot at the home of the Phillies, Baker was more than ready to reclaim his seat behind the mic.

“I was so energized being back at the ballpark," he said. "I have much in common with Phillies fans. I’m a Phillies fan myself… I relate to Phillies fans, because I’m rooting for the team with all my heart.

"There was an electricity in that ballpark (during the opening homestand). It was just exciting to hear the fans. Someone from the Mets was talking with (Phillies’ director of broadcasting and video services) Mark DiNardo and they said, ‘Boy, that really sounds good! How are you pumping that crowd noise in?’ We weren’t pumping any crowd noise in. There were 8,800 fans there, and they sounded like 30,000!”

Baker never publicized his health issues because he didn’t want to be a source of sorrow for Phillies fans. He’s always felt that his role, as part of the experience of going to a game, is to be part of the happiness, the ease of mind you feel, casting thoughts and worries aside for a few hours. 

That’s certainly not to say he didn’t miss being at the ballpark.

“Just being at the games. I love being at the games," he said. "It’s baseball, you know? To be out there, in the beautiful weather of the spring and summer. We’re so lucky, those of us who have the privilege to play a part, even in a small way, to play a part in the game.”

When Baker announces next season, his 50th, he will become just the third MLB public address announcer to reach that level of longevity. Bob Sheppard announced for the Yankees for 57 years, and Pat Pieper announced Cubs games for 59 years.

When asked how much longer he plans on announcing, he was ready with an answer.

“It might be wishful thinking, but goshdarnit it’s a goal, and I’m going to try to achieve it, if the Phillies will have me," he said. "I’d like to go for the record [60 seasons]! Bob Sheppard was 97 years old when he retired… I’m a kid! I’m 74, compared to Bob!”

Listening to Baker say it, in that unmistakable voice, I wouldn’t root against him.

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