For people my age, Len Kasper was the indisputable television voice of the Chicago Cubs.
The story of his time with the Cubs is one of befores and afters for me, and I’m sure for many in the same generation. Len was there before I saw some of the worst Cubs teams of my lifetime from 2012-14 and he was there after. He was there before the Cubs finally won a World Series and he was there after. He was there before so many personal milestones — first kiss, wedding, getting a dog, buying a house, and so many more — and he was there after.
Along the way, he created so many important moments that served as the soundtrack to my fandom.
Moments like the one above aren’t just enhanced by an announcer of the utmost talent, they’re made by it.
Unlike players, broadcasters don’t really have built-in expiration dates. Even in best-case scenarios, players rarely stick around for more than five or six years. Anthony Rizzo has become an icon in eight years and counting with the Cubs, but that’s dwarfed by Kasper’s 16 years in the booth. We expect those faces and voices bringing the game to us to stay there forever…until they don’t
With the exception of Rizzo and my first favorite, Mark Prior, Len will have been there before and after all of the players I’ve adored over the years. Included in that list are Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramírez, Carlos Zambrano, Starlin Castro, Jake Arrieta, and Dexter Fowler.
Call Len a regular Desmond Hume because he has always been The Constant. Now, however, that before and after applies not just to the players but to Kasper himself and it’s hard to feel anything but uneasy about exactly what comes next.
While the players on the field and the moments they produce will always write the chapters that make up the story of our favorite teams, the announcers weave the experience together into the overarching narrative of our fandom. With a blend of charisma, humor, and sharp baseball insight, Len created a narrative that won’t easily be matched.
There are a number of rumors floating around about what comes next for the Cubs broadcast booth, but make no mistake: Len Kaspar is irreplaceable. Whoever happens to fill the role of the next television voice of the Cubs will have some gigantic shoes to fill.