Brendan Burke decided he wanted to be a sports broadcaster in uniquely New York fashion.
It was the spring of 1993, when he was 9, and he tagged along on a road trip to Fenway Park with his sportswriter father, Don.
One day the elder Burke arranged for Brendan to sit in the Yankees’ radio booth with John Sterling and Michael Kay.
“He explained to me that that was their job, that they got paid for this,” Burke recalled. “I was like, ‘Hey, sign me up! That’s what I want to do!’ ”
Twenty-three years later, he will get paid to call games for a New York team, too.
MSG Networks announced Thursday that he will succeed Howie Rose as the lead TV play-by-play voice for the Islanders alongside analyst Butch Goring.
Burke, 32, called it a “dream job,” one he hopes to occupy as long as his most recent predecessors — Jiggs McDonald and Rose. He is only the third man to fill the role since McDonald began in 1980, four years before Burke was born.
“To put my name even at the end of a sentence following up Jiggs and Howie, it’s incredible,” he said. “For someone who can appreciate broadcasters, those guys are two of the best.”
The job opened up in May when Rose announced he would leave after 21 seasons to give himself a true offseason after calling Mets games for WOR radio.
Rose congratulated Burke on WOR during a break in Thursday’s Mets game, saying, “I could not be any more thrilled than to hand that baton over to a guy I expect to have it for a couple of decades.”
In Burke, MSG hired a respected, experienced announcer, one young enough for a long stay. That is his plan, anyway. “This is the only place I want to be,” he said.
Burke most recently was the play-by-play voice for the Utica Comets of the AHL after previous minor-league stops in Wheeling, West Virginia, and Peoria, Illinois. He has called some games as a fill-in at the NHL level for the St. Louis Blues.
Even though baseball was the sport he was around the most as a child, hockey was his game as a player, starting when he was barely out of diapers and his father was working in Milwaukee.
Burke grew up primarily in New Jersey, where Don worked for the Record and Star-Ledger covering the Yankees, Nets and Mets in the 1990s and 2000s.
He was a three-year varsity hockey player at Paramus Catholic High School and played on the club team at Ithaca College.
“Hockey kind of took me with it,” he said. “Once I started [broadcasting] it, it felt natural.”
It helped, he said, growing up in an area where the local play-by-play voices were Sam Rosen on the Rangers, Rose on the Islanders and Doc Emrick on the Devils.
“Being in this market, I had the gold standards at my fingertips,” he said.
While most Islanders fans respected Rose’s work, some questioned whether he ever fully shed his roots as a Rangers fan.
What was Burke’s team in his youth? He said that as a sportswriter’s son, he grew up learning to appreciate the games without taking sides.
“I know people are going to say, ‘There’s no way that’s true,’ ” he said, “but that’s how I was brought up.”
Burke embraced the perks of his father’s job at a young age.
“I didn’t go to a Yankees game where I didn’t park in the players’ parking lot and sit behind home plate until I was in high school,” he said. “I didn’t realize until later in life that that was not normal.”
He also attended several Major League Baseball All-Star Games, including 1993 in Baltimore, where he practiced calling the action into a cassette recorder while sitting behind a foul pole.
Burke said his father has been supportive since he “was a little kid with a dream to be where I am. I’m almost as happy for him as I am for myself.”