Larry Andersen has worked every summer in baseball since 1971, when he was drafted from high school. His career spanned the mound for 17 big-league seasons, to the dugout as a coach, and then to the broadcast booth for decades.
“I figured next year,” he said, “would the first time I had time off in the summer in 48 years.”
Andersen, after this season, will no longer work full time alongside Scott Franzke. The radio duo gained a cult following through strings of both good and bad Phillies seasons. But Andersen, 64, is in the final stages of negotiating a contract that will significantly reduce his time in the booth.
It was his decision.
“It doesn’t matter if this team was going to the World Series or was going to finish in last,” Andersen said Wednesday. “It had nothing to do with the baseball aspect of it. It was more just a personal decision that, in my waning years, I wanted to do some things while I was above ground.”
It is likely that Andersen does about half of the 162 games next season, with most of his work coming in home games. The Phillies have auditioned possible replacements for Andersen this season — they tried Kevin Stocker, J.C. Romero, Kevin Jordan, Doug Glanville, and current TV analyst Ben Davis in three-game stints.
Rob Brooks, the Phillies’ manager of broadcasting, said the team may not hire one person to fill Andersen’s void.
“He’s earned the right to do what he wants,” Brooks said. “We’ve been working to do what is best. It’s going to be a significant reduction.”
This is Andersen’s 20th season in the radio booth. Franzke and Andersen have partnered for 11 seasons, forming a friendship through their mutual dry wit. They were — and still are — an odd couple, but one that connected with a large swath of the fan base.
“The response we’ve gotten from the fans has been, honestly, nothing short of an honor,” Andersen said. “Really. It’s one of the best things in my life — the rapport I’ve had with the fans and doing the radio with Scott. The rapport we built up, it’s been tremendous.
“This isn’t the easiest city. But they’ve been faithful to us. Scott will attest to this, too: We want to entertain the fans the best we can. We feel like we’ve done as much as we can to do that.”
Andersen pitched 699 games for six teams and was a member of both the 1983 and 1993 Phillies, two pennant winners. Immediately after his retirement in 1995, he coached for three seasons in the Phillies’ minor-league system.
He is not disappearing. But when the Phillies travel later this month to Atlanta for the season’s final road series, it could be the last time he calls a game with Franzke away from Citizens Bank Park.
“I don’t know how or if I could ever walk away completely,” Andersen said. “The organization has been great to me. They’ve been great to us as a team.”