The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Mark Schremmer

January 24, 2013

BLOG: Leftovers from the Royals Caravan

ROLLA, Mo. — Broadcaster Steve Physioc said the Kansas City Royals expected color analyst Rex Hudler to be criticized early in the season. However, Physioc also said the Royals were confident fans would learn to grow fond of his sometimes “over the top” colleague.

The chances for criticism seemed high. Hudler was a 10-year MLB veteran with no connection to the Royals. Plus, he was taking over for a Kansas City legend in former second baseman Frank White, who just went through a public break-up with the organization.

“We knew this would happen, because Rex was so different than Frank White,” Physioc said Monday while attending the Royals Caravan at Northpark Mall’s Vintage Stock. “Frank is rather laid back and not as excitable as Rex. And Rex comes in and he can be over the top, because he’s so passionate about the game of baseball. A lot of people don’t realize that he’s one of the last players to have spent 10 years in the minor leagues and 10 years in the major leagues. That’s remarkable.”

Early on, fans were perplexed by Hudler’s unique calls, such as referring to two RBI as “a couple of steaks,” or saying “call the cops” after a good play. But Physioc said that by the end of the season, fans were starting to warm up to Hudler’s antics.

“His passion comes out,” Physioc said. “And I knew even when he was getting criticism at the beginning of the season that the same people would love him at the end. I had people coming up to me at the end of the year saying, ‘I hated the guy in the beginning, but now I love him.’ Because he is genuinely in love with the game.”

Physioc said he could tell Hudler had a future in the business even as a player.

“It was 1996, and it was my first year with the Angels organization,” Physioc said. “Rex was still a player. They had a nine-game losing streak, and we’re going into Yankee Stadium. The team was really playing poorly. We don’t know what we’re going to do in the open. So I said, ‘let’s get Rex Hudler. He’s always in a good mood.’ We get Rex and I asked him the question, ‘you’ve experienced slumps in three different countries — the United States, Canada and Japan. How do you get out of it?’ His explanation of how you get out of a slump in Canada, America and Japan was hilarious. This guy gave us one of our best opens. It was a fun broadcast. Rex had a couple hits that day.”

Physioc and Hudler later worked together on Angels broadcasts and then reunited this past season in Kansas City. Physioc said he is exciting about working another season with Hudler.

“To sit with him in the booth, I’ve told people that once a game Rex will say something that no other broadcaster will say,” Physioc said. “Sometimes it’s goofy, sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it’s poignant. But it’s always passionate, and that’s what I really love about him.”

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Mark Schremmer