Roseville’s Joe Block lands’ Pirates play-by-play job

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Joe Block

It wasn't too long ago that Joe Block was broadcasting in the minor leagues, and, maybe more important to the team, cleaning the bathrooms in the stadium when he wasn't on the air.

One March and April years ago, while doing St. Paul Saints games, he lived on a porch.

At least it was screened in.

"That really happened," Block, a Roseville native, said Saturday. "There's a guy out there named Ed saying, 'I was his landlord!'"

Oh, how far he's come.

Block, 37, on Saturday was officially named the new play-by-play voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He'll do all nine innings every night, split evenly between television and radio.

He leaves the Milwaukee Brewers -- and broadcast partner Bob Uecker -- after four seasons.

Pittsburgh is the perfect fit, given Block has spent a lot of time there, around the family of his wife, Beth. The two just had their first child, a daughter, Nancy.

"Just surreal," Block said of getting the call Friday. "I've had some calls that have been some great calls. Not only is it going to be this great career move, but it's also going to be this great family and personal move.

"Everything that we've stressed over, it all got figured out. It makes you believe that anything is possible, as long as you hope for it, you work toward it, and I'm living proof of that."

Block, who attended Michigan State before embarking on a broadcasting career (baseball and basketball) that took him all over the country, worked on Dodgers broadcasts before getting the Brewers job. He went from working a bit with Vin Scully, to working alongside Uecker every night.

Uecker was the first phone call Block made when he was thinking about going after the Pirates opportunity.

The Brewers gave permission earlier this month.

"He gave me his blessing," Block said of Uecker. "It's bittersweet for me, and I know it's bittersweet for him, too, because we really have enjoyed working together. We have become true friends, our wives have, too. That doesn't happen as often as you'd think in the business, where you really, truly genuinely care about the person sitting next to you.

"We've just had such a blast working together. He's been nothing but supportive.

"I'm going to miss being around him, a lot."

At least they will still see each other plenty moving forward, with the Pirates and Brewers playing several times a year, as National League Central rivals.

Block in Pittsburgh replaces Tim Neverett, a New England native who was hired to join the Boston Red Sox radio team after Dan O'Brien moved to television. O'Brien replaces the super-popular Don Orsillo, who was let go after last season.