Len Kasper's 12 best calls as Cubs' play-by-play man originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Len Kasper is taking his talents to the South Side.
Friday, the White Sox announced the hiring of Kasper as their new radio play-by-play man on ESPN 1000. It ends his 16-season run as the Cubs’ TV play-by-play voice, matching Harry Caray for the second longest tenure in team history.
Only Jack Brickhouse, whose career spanned 34 seasons from 1948-81, had a longer run as the voice of Cubs games on TV.
Kasper was extremely popular among Cubs fans after taking over for Chip Caray in 2005. He and Bob Brenly had a strong rapport during the latter’s time as color commentator from 2005-12. That carried over to Kasper’s partnership with Jim Deshaies, who took over for Brenly in 2013.
Radio has been a long dream of Kasper’s, and we’re lucky to continue hearing him broadcast games in Chicago. As he moves on to a new endeavor, let’s look back on some of his best calls with the Cubs — a difficult list to put together because of how good Kasper is in big moments.
1. Aramis Ramírez walk-off home run vs. Brewers, June 29, 2007
This is Kasper’s personal favorite call and for good reason. The Cubs trailed Milwaukee 5-4 in the ninth inning before Ramírez launched a walk-off blast deep into the left-center field bleachers. You can hear the utter excitement in Kasper’s voice, echoing the cheers of 40,000 fans at Wrigley Field.
The call: “The pitch to Aramis…there’s a drive, deep left center. Cubs win! They win it! Ramirez, two-run shot. Oh, baby! Can you believe it? Unbelievable!
2. Kosuke Fukudome game-tying home run vs. Brewers, March 31, 2008
Kasper kick-started the 2008 season with another memorable call against the Brewers. Offseason prize Fukudome made a strong first impression for the Wrigley Field faithful in his big league debut, hitting a game-tying three-run home run in the ninth inning.
The call: “There’s a swing and a drive, deep right-center, that ball carrying…Tie game! Tie game! Kosuke has done it! Oh, baby!”
3. Kris Bryant walk-off home run vs. Rockies, July 27, 2015
This game was a vaulting point for the Cubs on their run to the 2015 postseason. Trailing 8-7 with two outs in the ninth, Bryant crushed a walk-off long ball deep into the night. It wasn’t a matter of if the ball would get over the fence, but how far it would go.
The call: “High, deep drive, way back…ball game over! Cubs win! Cubs win! Oh, baby, Kris Bryant!
4. Carlos Zambrano no-hitter vs. Astros, Sept. 14, 2008
Kasper called his first Cubs no-hitter in his fourth season behind the mic, when Zambrano shut down the Astros in a game displaced to Miller Park due to Hurricane Ike.
It isn’t easy to describe such a big moment, one that fans will watch time and time again for years to come. Kasper hit the bullseye.
The call: “Here’s the pitch…swing and a miss! A no-hitter! Carlos Zambrano has no-hit the Houston Astros! Oh, baby!”
5. Reed Johnson diving catch vs. Nationals, April 25, 2008
Johnson, playing center field, had a long run to track down Felipe Lopez’ deep fly ball, tailing away from him towards left field. Johnson sold out, diving to catch the ball while crashing into the wall.
The call: “Deep fly, left-center, Reed Johnson got a good jump on this. Dives — did he catch it? He did! What a catch by Reed Johnson! That’s one of the best catches I’ve ever seen!”
*Note: This occurred on April 25, 2008.
6. Jim Edmonds game-tying solo home run vs. Braves, June 12, 2008
With the Cubs down 2-1 in the ninth, Edmonds hit an opposite field home run to tie things at 2. This was a throwback-themed game, with old-school Cubs uniforms and special graphics on the WGN broadcast. Kasper went with Brickhouse’s famous home run call, and, well, it was awesome. (Clip starts at 3:05:25.)
The call: “That’s deep to left, back, back, back…Hey Hey! He did it! That a boy Jimmy! Weeeeeee! Tie game!”
7. Jason Heyward walk-off grand slam vs. Phillies, June 6, 2018
Heyward stepped up and crushed a ninth-inning grand slam at Wrigley to erase a 5-3 deficit over the Phillies. He got all of the pitch, allowing Kasper to emphatically declare the Cubs’ victory as the ball sailed out of the park.
As a fun bonus, Deshaies quipped, “I guess he hit it over [right fielder Odubel Herrera’s] head.”
The call: “There’s a drive, deep right. Cubs. Win. Cubs win on a grand slam by Heyward!”
8. Alex Avila walk-off single vs. Blue Jays, Aug. 20, 2017
With Ben Zobrist on third and Javier Báez on second, Avila lined a single into right field. José Bautista’s throw from right field beat El Mago to the plate, but it was up the line and allowed Báez to slide in feet first in gif-worthy fashion.
The call: “There’s a base hit. Zobrist scores. Here comes the throw. Baez…scores! Cubs win! Cubs win!
9. Matt Szczur walk-off vs. Pirates, May 15, 2015
Szczur hit a shallow, catchable pop fly to right field. Pittsburgh’s Gregory Polanco lost his footing and stumbled to the ground, allowing the ball to drop safely and bring Starlin Castro home for the winning run.
The call: “Popped him up, shallow right, Castro’s not going to tag — he stumbles! Cubs win! Cubs win! Cubs win! He wasn’t going to tag! Polanco tripped. What a finish!”
10. Leonys Martín game-saving catch, Sept. 28, 2017
The Cubs eliminated St. Louis from playoff contention late in the 2017 season, thanks to some extra-inning heroics from outfielder Leonys Martín, who robbed Paul DeJong of a tying home run in the 11th inning.
The call: “Fly ball, well hit, center field. Martín back at the wall, he leaps. He caught it! He caught it! Cubs win! Cubs win! He just took away a game-tying home run from Paul DeJong, and the Cardinal postseason hopes are dashed.
11. David Bote and Anthony Rizzo back-to-back home runs vs. Diamondbacks, July 26, 2018
This is a two-for-one, with Bote and Rizzo bringing the Cubs back from a 6-4 ninth-inning deficit to walk off against Arizona. It feels too low being ranked here, but again, Kasper has a lot of great calls to choose from.
The call (Bote): “There’s a drive out into left-center! We. Are. Tied. Woah, baby. Woah, Bote!
The call (Rizzo): “In the air to right! Ball. Game. Over. Cubs win! Cubs win! Botizzo!”
12. Javier Báez makes two unreal plays against the Nationals, June 26, 2017
Another two-for-one, because Báez made two outrageous catches in one game against the Nationals in 2017. He first robbed Bryce Harper with a leaping dive to his left, later running more than 100 feet to make a sliding grab in foul territory.
The call — Catch No. 1: “Oh he caught it! Báez just robbed Bryce Harper! How did he make that catch?”
The call — Catch No. 2: “Popped down the left field line. Jay and Báez are over there, the slide, the catch! What a catch by Báez! Two-thirds of the world is covered by water, the other third by Javier Báez.
-Greg Maddux's 3,000th strikeout, July 26, 2005: Kasper admirably stepped aside on the broadcast to let Wrigley Field's public address announcer congratulate Maddux on the massive achievement.
-Anthony Rizzo's tarp catch, Aug. 12, 2015: Enough said.
-Jake Arrieta's second no-hitter, April 21, 2016: Arrieta threw his first no-hitter on Sunday Night Baseball, so it was only right he gave Kasper a chance to call one.
-Ian Happ Opening Day, leadoff home run, March 29, 2018: I mean, Kasper and Deshaies essentially called Happ's first-pitch long ball. That's awesome.
And there are many, many more worthy of this list. Here's to the past 16 years.