Rod Allen to call MLB game for first time since ’18 incident; he also has eyes on job in Detroit

Detroit News

We’ll see ya. Well, we’ll hear ya, anyway.

Rod Allen, the longtime television analyst for the Detroit Tigers, is set to return to a Major League Baseball broadcast booth for the first time since he was fired, along with on-air partner Mario Impemba, following a physical altercation late in the 2018 season.

Allen will broadcast on the radio Sunday for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ game against the Chicago Cubs. It’s the first of three Diamondbacks assignments booked for Allen the rest of 2021.

“It’s super exciting,” Allen told The News.

Allen also could soon be resurfacing in the Detroit broadcasting market. He recently visited the Birmingham offices of Woodward Sports Network, and is known to have had multiple discussions, including at least one that was in person, with brass for the digital sports-media outfit.

It’s not a done deal, but there are ongoing talks. No contract has been signed, there’s no set start date, and a format also isn’t known. It’s unclear if Allen would work remotely. He resides in Arizona.

Woodward Sports Network, which launched in 2020 and airs live local and streaming programming on weekdays, with shows featuring the likes of former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty and former Detroit Lion Joique Bell. Sean Baligian is Bell’s co-host, but is leaving Woodward Sports Network for an expanding role at WJR 760-AM. That move is expected to kick off a significant shuffling of programming at WSN, which is where Allen, among others, could come in.

Chad Johnson, known for his fleet of Lady Jane’s salons for men, is CEO of Woodward Sports Network.

“We have a lot of awesome things to let the city and state know about,” Johnson told The News. “Rod is someone I think very highly of and is very high on my list to bring on my team.”

Allen was in Detroit in early June, and attended his first Tigers game since 2018.

Allen, 61, was the Tigers’ analyst on Fox Sports Detroit telecasts from 2003-18, making him the first Black broadcaster in the franchise’s history. He won Emmys for the job in 2006 and 2007, and when the Tigers resurfaced as contenders in 2006, Allen’s catchphrases took hold of a baseball-starved city.

It all came to a sudden end in September 2018, when Allen and Impemba got into a physical altercation in and outside the broadcast booth at the Chicago White Sox ballpark. The dispute was reportedly over a chair. Both were summoned back to Detroit, and eventually fired. Some reports said Allen put Impemba in a chokehold; Allen has repeatedly denied those reports.

Impemba, 58, has worked in baseball since the incident, as part of the Boston Red Sox radio team in 2019. He was not retained for 2020.

Allen, meanwhile, makes his return Sunday with the Diamondbacks, for whom he worked on radio and television broadcasts from 1998 through 2002 before leaving for the Tigers gig.

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Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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