Dan Shulman says he is stepping away from ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball next season to get a better work-life balance.
In an interview with SI on Monday afternoon, Shulman said he is getting remarried next year and wanted a schedule to better fit being at home more in Toronto. He repeated several times during the interview that this was entirely his decision and not prompted by ESPN management.
“I certainly have mixed emotions about it but at the end of the day I chose to strike a better balance between my personal life and professional life,” Shulman said. “I’m grateful to ESPN for giving me this opportunity, and equally grateful that they agreed to let me reconfigure my situation in order to make this work. It was not an easy choice. I have been thinking about it for months. I still want to accomplish certain things professionally but getting the balance in my personal life was the important thing. The older we get I think we sometimes reprioritize and I guess I’m doing that.”
Shulman will still have a full college basketball schedule for ESPN. He will also call the entire MLB postseason on ESPN Radio (which is good news for baseball fans) and do a limited number of weeknight MLB television games for ESPN. He said he will also continue calling a small package of Blue Jays games for Sportsnet (Canada). Based on that schedule, he’ll probably be down to about 60 dates per year for ESPN. He and his agent, Steve Herz, had to restructure his contract to make it work.
Asked whether he had been asked to take any kind of different contract in light of the ESPN talent layoffs in April, Shulman insisted that this was his decision.
“I can’t control what people think but I know what the truth is and I am telling you in all sincerity this originated 100 percent from me,” Shulman said. “I called [senior vice president, production and remote events,] Mark Gross about a month ago and said can I come to Connecticut and sit with you. I told him I had some things that were going on in my life that I wanted to talk to him about.”
Said Gross, in a statement passed along by ESPN PR: "Dan recently expressed his desire to modify his schedule to coincide with some personal life changes and he has our full support. While Dan has decided to transition off Sunday Night Baseball after this season, he will still have a presence on our Major League Baseball coverage, including all rounds of the MLB Postseason on ESPN Radio and select weeknight regular-season telecasts. Dan will remain the signature play-by-play voice for ESPN's men's college basketball coverage, including our premiere Saturday night package. Dan has been the voice of Sunday Night Baseball for seven years and we thank him for his tremendous contributions to that important franchise. We look forward to Dan's continued multi-platform presence at ESPN."
Shulman said he told booth mates Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza within the last two weeks. “I will miss them as well as all the production people,” Shulman said. “I’ve have been with some of them for 20 years.”
This is Shulman’s 20th year calling baseball for ESPN, a tenure that began with ESPN’s postseason radio coverage in 1998. He has previously served as the voice of ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball (2008-10) and Wednesday Night Baseball 2002-07) and has been the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball since 2011.
As for a successor to Shulman, ESPN executives said it was too early to speculate. Shulman said he has no interest in making suggestions on his replacement. “That’s not my say,” Shulman said. “I have not given that a moment’s thought. They have some good candidates internally and I am sure that person will be great. But I am really thankful to have had the opportunity and I look forward to continuing my relationship for many years to come. It was a tough choice but one at the end of the day I feel was the right one for me.”