Meet the Detroit Tigers’ new radio voices: A Michigan Man and an Eastsider

Detroit Free Press

Dan Dickerson, the Detroit Tigers radio play-by-play announcer, makes an annual plea while teaching a journalism class at Michigan State.

“We need more women in broadcasting,” Dickerson said. “I say this to my students every year.”

So, he’s thrilled that Daniella Bruce is joining the Tigers radio broadcast. She’ll handle pre and postgame shows at home games.

“She’s going to bring a different perspective,” Dickerson said. “She’s a terrific broadcaster.”

While Dickerson will be paired with longtime partner Jim Price for home games, he’ll be joined by two new in-game analysts on the road, bringing a fresh perspective and a welcome dose of diversity.

Bobby Scales, who was born in Southfield and was a two-time All-Big Ten player at Michigan, will work about 40 road games with Dickerson.

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“I am fired up,” Scales said. “Dan is obviously one of the most respected people in the industry. One: He’s a really, really good dude. And two: He’s really, really good at what he does. Anytime you have an opportunity to work with somebody like that, you relish that opportunity. You take it.”

Cameron Maybin, who played 15 years in the MLB and had three stints with the Tigers, will also work about 40 games on the road.

“It’s high time we have more diversity in the radio booth across this league,” Dickerson said. “It is. It’s just a flat-out fact. Let’s get some different perspectives from someone who doesn’t look like me. I’m sorry, but this industry has been white and male for way too long. So it’s great to have now Daniella and Bobby Scales and Cameron Maybin.”

Most Tigers fans know Maybin, the former first-round draft pick.

But now, it’s time to meet Scales and Bruce.

A Michigan Man to his core

When Scales joins Dickerson in the booth on Thursday when the Tigers open their season against the Tampa Bay Rays, it will be just the second game of his broadcasting career.

The first happened in spring training.

“Only way to go, man,” Scales said. “You can’t be afraid of it. Just jump right in. That’s kind of been my thing.”

Scales, 45, was born in Southfield. “My grandfather was UAW — Chevrolet, 37 years,” Scales said. “My aunt went to Northwestern (High School), my mom went to Cooley. Detroit is piece of who I am, a significant piece.”

Scales saw his first baseball game in Tiger Stadium with his dad.

“I was 6 or 7 years old,” he said. “Ironically, in the summer of 1984. So I picked a good year to be a kid going to his first baseball game in Tiger Stadium.”

His family moved to Georgia when he was a kid. But his roots remained in Michigan and he developed a strong love for the Maize and Blue.

Scales was in the eighth grade when the Fab Five were freshmen. Michigan started its 1992 NCAA tournament run to the Final Four against Temple in Atlanta, and Scales saw them play.

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“When those guys came down to Atlanta and played their first playoff game, I remember begging my dad to go down,” Scales said. “We scalped tickets. Usually when you scalp tickets, you get the nosebleeds or whatever. But this guy said, ‘Hey, just pay us face value and you’re good.’

“Next thing we know, we’re in the Michigan alumni section. I remember turning to my dad and saying, ‘I’m going to Michigan.’”

A few years later, he walked onto the Michigan baseball team, playing from 1996-99.

“You got to remember 1995-99 at Michigan, it was epic,” Scales said. “That’s Woodson; that’s Brady; that’s the hockey team in the middle of unbelievable run.”

Scales made the U-M travel team as a freshman and became a starter as a sophomore.

“We won the Big Ten my junior year and my senior year,” he said. “Honest to God, it was a fairy tale, not just on the field, it was a fairy tale socially. I’ve got friends for life. The people that shaped my life, academically and helped me become, quite frankly, the man I am today. It was everything a college experience could have possibly been.”

Scales was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 14th round (442nd overall) of the 1999 MLB draft.

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After bouncing through the minors for more than a decade, he made his big-league debut when he was 31. He played 61 games spread over two seasons.

“I got 98 days service time,” he said. “But I have no regrets.”

After ending his professional career in Japan, he jumped straight into the front office, becoming the Angels’ player development director.

“I skipped several steps in that process,” Scales said. “It’s one of those situations in life where you’re not ready for it, but the people who have brought you on, really saw the upside and were willing to grow with me.”

In many ways, he is doing the same with Tigers radio. He’s got upside, a tremendous background, and they are willing to grow with him.

“I’ll probably do 30 to 40 games,” he said. “I’m not really in a position to do more than that for a lot of reasons right now. But I do relish this opportunity for sure.”

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Getting up close and personal

Bruce is stepping into a newly created position.

While she will dive into the baseball side doing postgame interviews, she’ll also mine the human-interest side with a couple of segments on the pregame show.

“Obviously we’re going to talk about the game,” Bruce said. “We’re not going to ignore the game at all, but we are going to try to bring some of the personality feature type stuff into those interviews. What are they like off the field? What kind of different things do they do? What are their hobbies? Things like that. So listeners get a feel for what these players are like off the field.”

Bruce grew up in New Baltimore and lives in St. Clair Shores.

“I’m an Eastsider, through and through,” she said. “I love the lake, so I’m from there and then I went to Michigan State, so I’ve never left the state of Michigan.”

She has worked for the Red Wings for six seasons, doing intermission shows and creating social media content.

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Bruce was the first female announcer on a Red Wings radio broadcast when she filled in when analyst Paul Woods was ill.

Now, she’s staying with the Wings, but expanding her role to the Tigers.

“I’m super excited,” she said. “I’ve always loved baseball. I tell everybody that I’m from Detroit. Not a lot of people who grow up in the area, who grow up as fans of the sport, actually get to work in their hometown and I’ve never had to leave which is super cool.”

Contact Jeff Seidel at jseidel@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.

To read Seidel’s recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel.

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