PK: After 4,181 Games, Bees Broadcaster Steve Klauke’s Legendary Run Ends
Sep 22, 2023, 8:00 AM | Updated: Sep 25, 2023, 2:25 pm
SALT LAKE CITY – Self-deprecating, humble, the master of puns – but please, don’t get him started on those, he’s got a million of them.
But before going any further with the personal characteristics, there is another quality that stands out among all of them – an outstanding professional broadcaster, ranking with the best in bringing a game – any game, really – alive to the listener. Some 40 years in the business testifies to his greatness, on display in many forms, most notably night after night behind the microphone calling baseball.
True to reality in this life, all good things come to an end. In that realm, the end of a legendary run has dwindled down to its final few games for Steve Klauke, who is retiring this season as the broadcaster for the Salt Lake City Triple-A baseball franchise.
From the Salt Lake Buzz to the Stingers and most recently the Bees, Klauke has been there virtually every step of the way since the highest level of minor league baseball returned to the state in 1994. Players, coaches and even owners have come and gone, but through it all the one constant – forgive us for stealing a partial quote from Field of Dreams – has been one man sitting behind home plate above the diamond in the press box.
Before he became the voice of Salt Lake Baseball, Steve Klauke was an impressionable 8-year-old watching the White Sox.
Full Video premiers at Smith’s Ballpark on Steve Klauke Night this Saturday and on our YouTube Channel Sunday Morning. @slbeesradio pic.twitter.com/BZqcCKDbz0
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) September 20, 2023
Practically a professional lifetime will go with him when Klauke walks out of the press box as the broadcaster for the final time at Smith’s Ballpark. Apologies for a bit of hyperbole, in large part because this level of baseball is not the same as the big leagues, Klauke’s departure resonates locally in the manner of the retirements of other iconic broadcasters across the country.
“In my opinion,” said Bees general manager and president Marc Amicone, “Steve is as good of a play-by-play announcer as there is in any sport. We ask them to tell the game story, but I think more importantly is for the listener to know what’s happening on the field, and Steve is the absolute best at that.
“It’s been a privilege for me to listen to him, to learn from him, to work with him, but most importantly, to count him as a friend.”
Amen to the many in the baseball community and beyond able to share Amicone’s sentiments. Good luck trying to find any enemies of Klauke, who has remained one of the more popular figures among media members.
The three-time Utah broadcaster of the year has relationships that run deep in every aspect of sports in Utah, from the preps up through the pros. It’s hard not to appreciate a person who has earned great respect among his peers all the way up to the newsmakers.
Remembering Steve Klauke’s Career
Originally hired in 1991 to serve as the studio host during Utah Jazz games, Klauke also called events for local colleges, hockey along with Los Angeles Angles (the Bees parent club) and the Toronto Blue Jays. He will remain doing football and basketball games for Weber State, which hired him in 2015.
“I would be dishonest if I said he was low maintenance, because he was NO maintenance. Whether we had technical problems, weather issues or travel difficulty, he just goes about his business with the desire and effort to make it the best broadcast possible,” said longtime Bees employee Tony Parks, who served as the fill-in team broadcaster on the rare occasion Klauke missed a game.
“It never mattered if it was an Angels game, Bees game or a high school basketball game in November, he prepares the same way and treats every game, athlete, and radio producer the same. The game was never about him. It was about the players and the people at home or in the car tuning in.”
Funny thing is, Klauke never expected to last 29 years as the voice of the Bees. But as life works, the first season turned into the second and then became 15 to 20 and so forth.
In typical fashion for a person with deep broadcast roots in his hometown Chicago area, Klauke tapped into his ingenuity to land the job. To show then-owner Joe Buzas that KISN 570-AM in Salt Lake City was serious about wanting the broadcast rights when the franchise moved from Portland, Ore., to start the 1994 season, Klauke pitched the idea to his bosses – among them, Randy Rigby, then the director of Jazz broadcasting and future team president – to air the team’s final two games of the 1993 season.
“The press box there (in Portland) was at field level with no doors,” Klauke recalled. “At some point, Joe listened in without me knowing about it and apparently liked what he heard because he told both places (including another station) that whichever had me would get the rights.”
“It’s up there, it’s out there, and it’s gone!” It’s Steve Klauke’s, @slbeesradio, final week as the Salt Lake Bees Broadcaster. Listen live all homestand on @KSLSportsZone 🐝 pic.twitter.com/5NjJMNYjeq
— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) September 19, 2023
In somewhat of an act of fate, Klauke already had developed a connection in the 1980s with Jazz owner Larry Miller through doing play-by-play of a men’s fastpitch softball out of Aurora, Ill. Miller, a longtime softball player, liked what he heard of Klauke’s ability.
Among the many great memories was calling the franchise’s playoff appearances, which included getting ousted when a 20-year-old Albert Pujols smashed a walk-off home run for Memphis in 2000. Also standing out were the times Joe Garagiola and Brent Musburger, who sat in for an inning, came into the booth on separate occasions.
Klauke also enjoyed tastes of the big time, which were on two Toronto Blue Jays broadcasts in 2004 and six games with the Angels in 2016. And now, come Sunday, it all ends.
“I just think now is the right time,” he said. “My wife would like to have me home more and between the Bees and Weber State, I’m doing around 195 games per year. So, it is time to slow down, plus all of those restaurant meals over the summer aren’t really good for me as I get older as a Type 2 diabetic. We would also like to do some traveling, so why not do it while we are still healthy enough to do it.”
With that, all baseball fans around the state say goodbye and enjoy a much longer seventh-inning stretch.