For the first time since 1986, long-time Detroit Tigers TV man Mario Impemba is going into a baseball season without a broadcasting job.
Impemba was told by Boston Red Sox officials earlier this month that while they liked the work he did on the radio in 2019, he wouldn't be coming back for 2020.
The Red Sox had a heavily rotated radio booth last season, but this year they're opting for more consistency, with long-time play-by-play man Joe Castiglione joined by Will Flemming, Sean McDonough and former major-league player Lou Merloni. All were a part of the rotation last year.
Also not returning, along with Impemba, are Josh Lewin, Rob Bradford and Sean McAdam, along with Chris Berman, who did select games.
"All of whom did an amazing job," said Mark Hannon, regional president for Entercom Boston.
Impemba, 56, called about 60 games for the Red Sox and drew high marks from local critics, even earning a "B" from Boston.com at midseason. Only McDonough drew a higher mark.
Boston.com's Chad Finn wrote:
"Like Lewin, he’s a well-established play-by-play voice, and the Red Sox have been fortunate to have both of them take the brunt of the workload. He called Tigers games on television for 17 years before a scrap with color analyst Rod Allen during a broadcast last season cost both of them their jobs. (I’m in favor of more in-game broadcaster brawls.) Impemba, who has been part of 25 broadcasts so far, is the most conventional play-by-play voice of the group WEEI has used. Grade: B."
Impemba joined the Red Sox team after his 17-year run calling Detroit Tigers games on Fox Sports Detroit came to unceremonious end, following a physical altercation with Allen a broadcast booth in Chicago late in the 2018 season. Both were initially suspended, and eventually fired after a run that included more than 2,000 TV broadcasts; no Tigers TV duo has come close to matching that.
Impemba was replaced for 2019 by play-by-play man Matt Shepard, joined by analysts Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris, Craig Monroe and Dan Petry.
Before arriving back in Detroit to call games for his hometown Tigers, Impemba, a Sterling Heights Stevenson grad and a Sterling Heights resident, worked Angels broadccasts for seven seasons.
Before that, he had a variety of minor-league assignments after graduating from Michigan State University. He also is a past voice of Oakland men's basketball.
Impemba is likely to take this season off, but continues to pursue other opportunities, perhaps even teaching.
"Some time off could be good," Impemba said.