Don Orsillo, Northeastern graduate and MLB voice, sounds off on Red Sox, Bogaerts and his time as a Husky

don orsillo posing in broadcasting room
Photo by Andy Hayt/San Diego Padres/Getty Images

Don Orsillo called his first game as a Major League Baseball play-by-play announcer in Baltimore’s Camden Yards on April 4, 2001. Red Sox pitcher Hideo Nomo threw a no-hitter that day.

Two decades later, the 1991 Northeastern University graduate has assembled a Hall of Fame resume that includes 15 seasons in Boston and the last seven with the San Diego Padres. He also works MLB playoff games for a national audience on TBS and FOX.

And it all began with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a co-op at Fenway Park, a short walk from Northeastern’s Boston campus and Orsillo’s off-campus apartment on Gainsborough Street.

After that, it was 10 years calling minor league and college sports, including the Beanpot, before his dream came true. Orsillo recently spoke with News@Northeastern about his broadcasting career and Northeastern experience. His comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.

You called Red Sox games from 2001 to 2015. What are some of your favorite memories from those years?

Well, there are many: three World Series titles (2004, ‘07, ‘13), three no-hitters by Hideo Nomo, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, and 500th home runs by Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz. Curt Schilling’s 3,000th strikeout, hosting three ring ceremonies on the field and Tim Wakefield’s 200th win. 

Jim Rice’s number retirement ceremony, retirement ceremonies for Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek, and the first game back after the Boston Marathon bombings when Daniel Nava hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning. The park and city had been so emotional that day. 

Off the field, I’ll remember conducting the Boston Pops and appearing in three films (“Fever Pitch,” “The Town” and “The Heat”). 

You welcomed Xander Bogaerts to San Diego with an enthusiastic Twitter post. What are the Red Sox losing and Padres getting as a player and person?

The Padres have gained a great leader and a friend of mine. He was well beyond his years when he burst onto the scene with us in 2013 and was part of the title that year. I will never forget what he and others did to honor me at my last Red Sox game in 2015.

You’ve been an MLB broadcaster for over 20 years, who is your favorite player (or players)?

There are way too many to list. I have had some really great relationships and friends cross my path in my career, and realize how fortunate I really am. The coolest part for me is now I have worked alongside so many of those heroes in the booth, one of them being my favorite pitcher of all time, Pedro Martinez. 

How did Northeastern University prepare you for a career in sports broadcasting? 

A few courses and a co-op shaped my entire career. Professor Alan Zaremba helped form my communication skills, Pete Eastman my public speaking skills and Michael Woodnick taught me active listening, which helped immensely. I have worked with around 75 different broadcast partners in my career and this was huge. 

But No. 1 on that list was Joe Castiglione’s sports broadcasting class I took my sophomore year. That led to a Red Sox radio booth statistician co-op for the 1989-90 seasons. After graduation, I would spend 10 years in the minors but kept in contact with Joe. I was named Red Sox TV voice in 2001 and returned to the booth next door to my Northeastern co-op. 

Do you have any favorite memories from your four years on Northeastern’s Boston campus?

I loved it all. Starting with my first two on campus dorms at Melvin Hall and Smith Hall, and later moving off campus to Gainsborough Street. The friendships I made personally and professionally will never be forgotten and shaped my professional life immeasurably.

What is your advice to college students, specifically young broadcasters just starting out in the business?

Use all the resources available to you that Northeastern provides while you are there and network with friends and professors to start your base. Intern or volunteer wherever you can while at school so that you have something that stands out on your resume after graduation. 

And practice, practice and practice broadcasting off your TV or actually at events. Be willing to move anywhere and commit 100 percent to the craft. It could take a while.

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