Chuck Barrett 'excited' to make 1 game return to Arkansas baseball radio

By: Matt Jones
Published: Friday, February 15, 2019
Arkansas play-by-play radio announcer Chuck Barrett, left, and color analyst Quinn Grovey broadcast during a practice Saturday, April 29, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Jason Ivester
Arkansas play-by-play radio announcer Chuck Barrett, left, and color analyst Quinn Grovey broadcast during a practice Saturday, April 29, 2017, in Fayetteville.

— Chuck Barrett is making a return to the Arkansas baseball radio booth Sunday.

Barrett, who was the first play-by-play voice in the history of Razorbacks baseball and held the title for 23 seasons, will fill in for Phil Elson, who will be calling an Arkansas women's basketball game at Kentucky the same day.

Sunday's baseball game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Barrett will host the Razorback Sports Network pregame show beginning at 12:30 p.m. on affiliates throughout the state.

"I'm excited about doing it," Barrett said. "(RSN general manager) David Shoemaker called me Monday and told me there were some conflicts and asked me if I'd do it, and I said yes. I'm looking forward to it."

It will be the first time Barrett has called a baseball game since he surprised many by giving up his baseball announcing duties following the 2014 season. Barrett also is the voice of Arkansas' football and men's basketball teams and did games for all three sports for four years, but many considered baseball to be his strong suit.

He called more than 1,250 baseball games.

"I just kind of mimicked what I heard Jack Buck do on the Cardinals broadcast," said Barrett, who grew up in Clarksville.

Barrett admits baseball is his first love, but he made the difficult decision to give up baseball and its many nights and weekends and road trips after he married his second wife.

"It was difficult because it was a professional decision and a personal decision," Barrett said. "The personal part was easy; the professional part was not. It was something that I struggled with and I'd be lying if I say I don't miss it, because you don't do something for 23 years and not miss it when it's over."

Barrett helped build the Arkansas baseball network from the ground up beginning in 1992, the team's first season in the Southeastern Conference. His broadcasts are credited for helping build the Razorbacks' large baseball fan base.

Elson took over for Barrett beginning with the 2015 season. His role with IMG College, the rights holder for the RSN broadcasts, also includes radio duties for Arkansas women's basketball. When schedules overlap for women's basketball and baseball, as they do multiple times each year, women's basketball takes precedence.

"I'm very excited about the direction of that program and proud to be a part of what (Coach Mike Neighbors) is building, too," Elson wrote on Twitter on Thursday while explaining his dual responsibilities.

Elson will miss Arkansas' first six baseball games this season and won't call a baseball game until a Feb. 27 matchup against Memphis.

Barrett has largely stayed away from the baseball program since he left the position five years ago, in part to allow Elson to develop his own rapport with the audience.

"I went to Omaha last year (for the College World Series) and enjoyed that," Barrett said. "I kind of stayed away from it because I wanted Phil to have his space and felt like it was important for him to carve out his niche, and I think he's done that."

Scott Inman, a veteran TV broadcaster from Little Rock, will call Saturday's doubleheader against Eastern Illinois. Phil Brame, a play-by-play announcer and studio host at IMG's headquarters in North Carolina, will travel with the team to Los Angeles next week for a series at Southern Cal.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Barrett was the first play-by-play announcer for the Arkansas baseball team. Barrett was the first announcer for a network of baseball affiliates, but other announcers preceded him on other networks.

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