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Joe Buck comfortable with new partners Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci

FOX Sports lifts the curtain on 2014 by

FOX Sports lifts the curtain on 2014 by announcing that Emmy Award-winning play-by-play broadcaster, Joe Buck, the voice of MLB on FOX since its inception, is joined by analysts Harold Reynolds (pictured) and Tom Verducci as the new lead game broadcast team for MLB on FOX. Credit: Fox

Joe Buck said he knew within five minutes of the first rehearsal game that Fox had found the right combination of announcers to begin the network's post-Tim McCarver era.

"This felt very easy," the veteran play-by-play man said Monday, "and three-man booths are not easy."

The public will decide whether it likes the new group, but there was no hesitation from Fox's end. It unveiled an unconventional booth that will match Buck with a former player in Harold Reynolds and a journalist in Tom Verducci.

The former Newsday and current Sports Illustrated writer will join an extremely small fraternity of non-players who have worked as World Series television analysts, one that includes Howard Cosell.

"I'm sure it will hit me at some point, especially in October," Verducci said, "but I didn't really stop to think about the historical aspect. I've just always been focused on doing a good job at what's in front of me right now."

Verducci has ample TV experience, but never before in a role this prominent. Buck and Reynolds said he will bring vast knowledge of the game to the booth, but from a different perspective, and with an eye for detail.

"He's looking at a game like he's going to write a column at the end of it," Reynolds said.

Said executive producer John Entz: "We were unbelievably impressed by his preparation, his knowledge and what he actually brings to the telecast."

Verducci said that though he always will consider himself a writer first, "as we know in the media world today, there are no barriers." He plans to continue writing for SI, and Reynolds and Verducci plan to continue on MLB Network.

The new threesome will premiere on Fox Sports 1 for the Giants-Dodgers game April 5, but much of their regular-season work together will be on Fox in prime time later in the season.

"It's never easy to replace an icon," Entz said, but the chemistry in rehearsals convinced the network this approach would work.

Entz said the network is "taking it one year at a time. I hope people give this a chance before making a judgment and know there will be some growing pains, but there is a lot of potential here."

Fox also announced that Kevin Burkhardt will be its lead studio analyst. He is in the final year of his contract as SNY's Mets reporter and will continue in that role, but he likely will miss more games than usual.

Burkhardt will be joined by analysts including Frank Thomas, Eric Karros, Gabe Kapler and C.J. Nitkowski.

New York Sports