It’s been so long since we had a Purple Mafia Profile that I need to reintroduce the feature. On Fridays we tend to catch up with alums, fans, former players or folks connected to NU in unique ways and find out their perspective on NU in their life and their ability to stay on top of all things Northwestern Athletics. Today, we connect with class of ’90 graduate, Josh Lewin.
Lewin is a 16-year MLB broadcasting veteran and is known mostly on a national level for his work as a TV announcer for FOX having called all kinds of MLB games and also NFL games. He was the TV play-by-play announcer for the Texas Rangers from 2002-2010 and is in year one as the voice of the NY Mets on WFAN in New York. Lewin is a rare breed in many respects. Professionally, he is also the radio voice of the San Diego Chargers and he was somewhat of a prodigy in the broadcasting world having somehow cracked the code to become the voice of the Rochester Red Wings at the likley higher voice pitched age of 16. Let’s catch up with the man with the masterful pipes and talk some ‘Cats, shall we?
LTP: Welcome aboard Josh. I’m assuming you were part of WNUR during your tenure at NU. Fill us in on the most memorable or likely forgettable moment(s) of your time in the booth covering NU hoops, baseball and football.
JL: I actually did very little with WNUR, although I enjoyed my time underground at Annie May Swift immensely. (Is the station still in the basement? And whatever happened to that huge collection of records? Does anyone else remember “records?”) I was actually already rolling with my part-time job in Triple-A baseball back in Rochester, so somehow “paying my dues” — working the overnight shifts to earn the chance at color commentary at a ‘Cats @ Indiana game a year later — seemed a little pointless. Sorry if that sounds elitist in any way.. it’s just that between classes and my work-study job, there never seemed to be enough time to get traction with ‘NUR. That stated, if anyone finds my old “Asia” album somewhere in a closet, feel free to send it along.
LTP: Favorite football moment (and player) as an undergrad?
I was there during the Francis Peay era, and all due respect to that era, there werent any Rose Bowls, Alamo Bowls or even Ti-D-Bowls on our landscape then. Beating Illinois a couple times was cool and watching Byron Sanders have some big days ranks right up there — whatever happened to his brother Barry, by the way?
LTP: Last I heard he did OK. You’re now the voice of the NY Mets, but also have been the “voice” of the Chargers as well as so many different teams you’ve “called” throughout the years. How close tabs are you keeping with Joe Girardi and as the Mets “guy” does it seem like a conflict to be rooting for Joe knowing they are the enemy?
JL: I had the pleasure of working FOX games with Joe for three years and found him to be thorough, articulate, but also, above all, kind. I remember thinking every time we worked together what a privilege it was to be around him — not even so much for his baseball knowledge, but for his positive energy. I think he’s a tremendous guy, even if he DOES work for the major league team with the worst current record in New York. Booyah.
LTP: Ouch! As a Red Sox fan, I’m with you, then again (see: 1986) I’m actually against you. Anyway, Luis Castillo. Obviously he’s a mainstay on the Chargers and as the voice of the NFL franchise do you have more of a special relationship with him than others?
JL: I call Luis “Northwestern,” and we are friendly, but by no mean BFF’s. I will always remember trying to explain the outcome of the Outback Bowl game vs Auburn to him as he came off the field after practice, and it taking about 10 minutes. Finally, I just threw up my hands and said, “you should really just go inside and try to find the highlights. I can’t do this justice.”
LTP: Classic! Obviously the purple mafia in the media are quite abundant with you being part of that esteemed network. Tell us about being part of the unique club and which media members/sports management folks in the NU circles that are part of your regular communication.
JL: I actually wish I was better looped than I am. Glenn Geffner is a good friend, and I see him 18 times a year (plays 4 or 5 in spring training) since we have parallel jobs with the Mets and Marlins. I am a huge fan of Darren Rovell’s work, but haven’t really gotten a chance to know him… love JA Adande’s work, admire the hell out of Dave Revsine… I could go on and on. But frankly, I’ve done a poor job with keeping up with all of them. Maybe we need to coordinate a team barbeque. I nominate Adande’s house because it’s in LA.
LTP: Sold! By the way, JA is now the only one of the above, including you, that has not been a Purple Mafia Profilee. JA, let’s change that. How has NU helped you as you’ve climbed the sports media ladder in your career?
JL: No queston that the college experience in general helped me with time management, which is probably the most underrated skill set in broadcast journalism. Actually, in life. Medill specificaly taught me the value of being thorough.. .and why accuracy is so important, and why “showing” beats “telling” every time when recounting a story or describing an event. It’s also a heck of an icebreaker at parties (e.g.. “Oh, the team that used to suck so bad a football,” or “Oh, that’s where David Schwimmer went.”).
LTP: NU football. How closely are you following the program these days? What are your thoughts about Fitz and the 2012 team?
JL: I followed hoops a little closer than football this past year and the inability to put away Minnesota in Indy is still pissing me off. And it’s now JUNE. I have such admiration for Fitz, and keep hoping that one of these years they’ll avoid the “one bad non-conference loss” (I mean you, Army).. and find the way to steal that one extra Big Ten win. A 9-win season is close, I really believe that.. and if anyone can pull it off it’s Pat Fizgerald.
LTP: Fill in the following…when NU makes the Big Dance I will….
JL: Attend. Unless they draw the Paducah, Kentucky part of the bracket or some such. But otherwise, I’m there.
LTP: NU alum you most admire?
JL: Brian d’Arcy James. We were in one of those Andy Bernard-from-The Office- style a capella groups on campus (sorority girls are way too easily impressed, as I am now warning my college-bound daughter). A nicer man I haven’t met, and his perserverance as he’s chased his successful acting career is inspiring. He’s a family man first and foremost — loyal and interesting and talented and proud of his roots, and he’s a great example of setting your goals and not accepting “no” for an answer. We should all move mountains to achieve our dreams… after all, they seldom come to us.
LTP: Well, sounds like you followed that advice yourself as you’re living out many of the LTP readers’ dreams. Thanks for joining us and don’t be a stranger. Welcome to the esteemed annals of the Purple Mafia Profiled!
NGN AUCTION – PARTICIPATE FROM AFAR (Note: LINK IS NOW WORKING!)
Gotta love the modern communication technology. Tomorrow night marks the annual Northwestern Gridiron Network (NGN) auction and its new venue – Soldier Field. However, those of you who are not in the Chicago area can take part in helping the cause by bidding on items remotely via your cell phone, computer, IPad etc..There are a ton of unique Northwestern-specific auction items and the starting bids on some of these puppies is pretty puny. Check out the chock full list of auction items by clicking HERE. You can spend two days in Kenosha attending coaches meetings, player meetings and practice (plus room and board) starting at $150. You can get sideline passes and lockerroom access to the Iowa Homecoming game starting at $750. Or, how bout team breakfast on gameday and taking the bus to Ryan Field? Starts at $150. My personal favorite (shhhh!) is breaking down tape with the coachign staff. You get the point. This is the kind of unique offerings you can’t get and for us – they’re priceless. Be sure to help the cause and if any of you need a “date” on any of the prizes you win, I’m in!
LTP Flag Project
There has been a nice uptick in LTP N Flag Project submissions as of late. We’re loving it! Be sure to check out the map and see if there are any missing and enjoy how much we’ve dotted the globe as we’re venturing toward the 300 flag mark. We are only missing FOUR states – Mississippi, Montana, Connecticut (huh?!!!) and Vermont. Let’s get those last four nailed down so we can represent in all 50 states. Today’s photo comes from Bandon Dunes Golf Club in Oregon with a reunion of five class of 1967 Northwestern fraternity brothers (DU). From L to R L to R, Tom Garretson, Bob Walsh, Jim Burns, Randy Moore and Jim McDaniel.
That’s The Ticket
Now we’re talking. We hauled in six new season tickets in one day yesterday. We’re currently at 42, only 148 shy of our 2012 NEW season ticket goal. Let’s spread the word and +2 your season ticket package and/or recruit some friends to jump on board with our sexy home schedule. Remember, the only way to ensure you’ll be able to go to the Nebraska and Iowa home games will be to buy a season ticket. Let’s work together to pack Ryan Field Purple. Email us at Laketheposts@gmail.com and we’ll give you a shout out. Seriously, help us get to 25% of goal (8 more!) this weekend.
John Shurna/NBA Draft Update
With the NBA Draft Lottery completed (New Orleans gets the first crack at drafting John Shurna… somehow I think they will pass for this Anthony Davis character) and the calendar turning to June, the NBA Draft is quickly approaching. The Draft will take place June 28, which gives John Shurna a scant 28 days to climb up some draft boards and get on team’s radars to be one of the lucky 60 selected that day.
Shurna is not projected to be drafted at this moment by many of the major draft sites, but he is working hard already to get his name out there. He was in Minneapolis yesterday for a workout with the Minnesota Timberwolves where he stopped and gave this video interview update on his draft workouts. Shurna said he has already worked out for three teams, including the Heat in addition to the Timberwolves. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that several other teams were in attendance at Thursday’s workout and Shurna mentions in the video that Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird was in attendance to see him play. Shurna is getting in front of a lot of scouts already early in the draft process.
Shurna will have plenty more workouts before the June 28 Draft. Even if he does not get drafted, I suspect his shooting ability will get him an invite to at least one NBA team’s Summer League roster if not offers from European teams.