MILWAUKEE (WITI) — When it comes to calling University of Wisconsin basketball, as he has for 26 seasons, or Badgers football games for the past two decades, Matt Lepay is one of the best in the business. Soon, the seven-time Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year award winner will have more on his plate.
The voice of the Badgers will be a fill-in for Brian Anderson on 35 Brewers telecasts when Brian is away doing play-by-play of national games this season.
“I was surprised, to be honest. I viewed myself as a long-shot going in, because of my lack of television, my lack of baseball play-by-play. I’ve always loved the game,” Lepay said.
Lepay jumped at the chance to put his hat in the ring.
“When Tyler Barnes contacted me, I — my first thought was ‘maybe he’s just calling to let me down easy’ — but it was a pretty special moment to be able to achieve something that I had kinda let go of that dream a long time ago,” Lepay said.
Lepay loves football and basketball, but as a youngster growing up in southwest Ohio, baseball was king. He loved listening to announcers — especially those who painted the picture of the summer game.
“The first I remember hearing was Al Michaels when he was the radio voice of the Reds, before he became the network star that he is today. And Marti Breneman. And I tell people here that in many ways, Breneman is to Cincinnati what Bob Uecker is to Brewers fans,” Lepay said.
So what will his approach be to calling Brewers games? As always with a true professional, Lepay says he’ll probably be pretty tough on himself, but prepared and anticipating a different approach.
“If people have heard me on a football or basketball game, big moments — and there are a lot in the pace of the game, I’ll be a little more conversational I think during a baseball broadcast, because I don’t think yelling ‘touchdown Wisconsin’ or a ‘big half-court shot’ — I don’t think that works in baseball, so it’ll be a bit of an adjustment,” Lepay said.
Lepay hasn’t thought of a walk-off home run call yet — although he had one in a screen test with Brewers analyst Bill Schroeder. Being in a confined room without any fans, that one was low key.
“My guess is when — and hopefully it’s a when and not an if — Lucroy, Braun, whoever has a walk-off, might be a little bit more animated in the call, but still, it’s television. It’s baseball. Let the picture tell the story,” Lepay said.
After all these years, Lepay has become a play-by-play legend. And for a young man who grew up loving the national past-time of baseball, the opportunity to be with the Brewers and in a sense, come full-circle, is just a dream come true.
“I have to let myself enjoy it, but right now I’m thinking, you know, you’ve been given an opportunity here, so get after it, but this is, you know this is something special — walking into Miller Park, PNC, Great American Ballpark — all the places I’ll have a chance to visit, I mean this is pretty cool. Hopefully I’ll let myself enjoy it,” Lepay said.
As great a pro as he is, Lepay’s a better person. Humility is part of his makeup.
“I never take a compliment lightly. I always greatly appreciate it. But I also know that there are some people who wish I quit yesterday. It’s that old line: ‘if you take your job seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously, you’ll have a chance to have a little bit of success in this line of work,'” Lepay said.