The Bay Area's Kuiper Brothers
Sibling sportscasters Duane and Glen Kuiper may work for opposing teams, but they keep it friendly off the diamond.
Duane and Glen Kuiper have the perfect setup for a sibling rivalry: Both played baseball professionally before transitioning into sports broadcasting, and both ended up in the Bay Area, becoming the beloved voices for two longtime baseball competitors. Even their signature home run calls are similar. Duane’s “It is outta here!” has become legendary among San Francisco Giants fans, while Oakland A’s fans wave placards with Glen’s call, “That baby is gone!”
But don’t go looking for a cross-Bay spat between these two. They get along just fine, claim to have always done so, and even root for each other’s teams (although Duane does his best to block the memory of the A’s beating the Giants in the famous 1989 World Series).
The Kuipers, who both live in Danville, grew up on a farm in Wisconsin, the oldest and youngest of four children. Thirteen years younger than Duane, Glen spent his childhood watching his older brother play for the Cleveland Indians and the Giants. Duane retired after 12 seasons, moving to the broadcast booth in 1986. Glen played two years in the minor leagues before becoming a Bay Area fixture in baseball broadcasting in 1992; he nailed down the A’s play-by-play job in 2006.
As the Giants and A’s get ready for the Bay Bridge Series, Diablo caught up with the Kuipers to talk baseball, family, and a little friendly rivalry.
How did you both wind up in Danville?
Duane: When I got traded to the Giants in 1982, I was single. When I got married in 1985, my wife and I were still living in Cleveland. I started announcing games for the Giants, and they said, “We need you to move closer.” We’ve been in the house we’re in now for 28 years.
Glen: I lived on the Peninsula for 15 years. When I met my wife, she still lived here [in her hometown of Danville], so I decided it was probably a good idea to come here. That was in 2002. We got married in 2003.
Duane: You cannot ditch the younger brother. We were thrilled when he met someone and moved here.
Especially since you didn’t spend a lot of time with him growing up.
Duane: When I started college, he started kindergarten. Until then, he was always the little guy trying to be like us.
Glen: I always felt like I didn’t know Duane when I was little. Now, it’s different. We feel like we’re closer in age, even though we aren’t.
Duane: He was as much my kid as he was my brother, given the difference in age. When he was in college and asked Dad for money and Dad said no, I got the next call. It’s hard for a big-league ballplayer making good money to turn down the little brother for a hundred bucks. Do you remember those days?
Glen: Oh yeah—$100 was a big deal. I thought there was enough in that checking account.
Duane: I didn’t.
Was there ever any sibling rivalry between you two?
Duane: No. Even with our middle brother, Jeff, I can’t tell you the last time we argued.
Glen: We never did that whole ...
Duane: (finishing the sentence) ... beat up your little brother thing. We had a lot of fun with Glen when he was little. You know, the older brother just doesn’t let the little brother win.
Glen: They tried to tell me that they were teaching me.
Duane: Teaching him how to lose.
Glen: That’s great. What about learning how to win? That’d be a nice alternative.
Duane: That stopped when he got bigger and stronger.
What is Jeff like?
Glen: Jeff is the smart one.
Duane: My dad raised us on a dairy farm. He’s publicly said that of the three [of us], Jeff [who works as a Giants broadcast producer] would have been the best farmer. Glen and I were more worried about getting off the tractor and into the house and watching TV.
Glen: Our farm would not have survived.
Duane: If tractors had TVs back then, we’d have been incredible.
What about your sister, Kathy?
Duane: She was the only girl among three boys in a highly sports-oriented family. So, much of the conversation around the dinner table was about sports. Maybe a little bit about farming. Maybe a little bit about food.
Glen: We didn’t give her much of a chance at the dinner table, but it was not on purpose. She’ll remind us of that occasionally.
Duane: When we sat down to eat, we took the attitude of our dad. If he didn’t talk, none of us really did, either. I don’t remember there being a lot of chatter.
Glen: There were not in-depth conversations.
It’s amazing that you guys ended up talking for a living.
Duane: My dad was an auctioneer for a long time. We got our pipes from him. Don’t get us wrong: My dad has tons of personality—just not at the dinner table.
Glen, you played minor league baseball but never made it to the majors like Duane. Was that ever a source of friction between you two?
Glen: No. Never. I think people wonder about that. I thought it was very cool.
Duane: I would bribe him with a lot of Christmas gifts—let’s put it that way.
Glen: [In 1986] Duane had just retired and was living in Cleveland, and I was playing the summer [with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Pennsylvania]. Erie is [roughly]
an hour from Cleveland, and Duane would come to my games.
Does any of the competition between the A’s and the Giants spill over into your relationship?
Duane: We’re pretty even-keeled when it comes to that stuff. Remember, Glen worked for the Giants for a long time.
Glen: I think people would like us to argue about our teams. But it’s not at all what we do. I hope Duane does well. Duane hopes that the A’s do well. That’s the way it should be.
Duane: If it got down to Game 7 between the Giants and the A’s in a World Series, we might have a problem. As long as we don’t get to that, then we don’t have one.
Glen: The Giants won three World Series; I’m happy for Duane because I know how hard he’s worked. Do I hope that the A’s win a couple while I’m working for them? Oh yeah, of course. And if they do, Duane would be happy for me.
It’s been a pretty amazing run for both teams.
Glen: Baseball is at its best when both the A’s and Giants are good. The whole Bay Area gets into it. I enjoy that. I want the fans to think their team is better than the other team. I want both [teams] to get to the postseason because then baseball becomes super important in the Bay Area.
And what about the new A’s ballpark that’s on the way? Do you think that will have a big impact on Bay Area baseball?
Duane: You can’t blame the A’s for wanting what the Giants have. And I hope someday they do have what we have, and that’s a beautiful new ballpark
where you can see the water. A franchise that’s been here as long as the A’s have, and the three world championships that they have here—they belong here.
Glen: Duane said three world championships. I want to correct him: It’s four.
Duane: I remember only three.
Glen: He doesn’t count that fourth one.
The series in 1989 doesn’t count?
Duane: I don’t remember ’89.
Do you listen to each other’s broadcasts?
Glen: When I can. I like listening to Duane and Mike [Krukow]. They’re really, really good.
Duane: When I’m on the East Coast, I get back to my room, and the A’s game starts at 10:30 p.m. I can sit in my room and watch it and listen to him. It’s great. His partner [Ray Fosse] was a teammate of mine in Cleveland, so I know when Ray is lying or telling the truth.
I’ve heard Glen say he has to be careful not to copy Duane. He has to come up with his own style.
Glen: As a broadcaster, you have to do your own thing and hope that people like it. To try to be somebody else is a dangerous thing. As good an announcer as Duane is, I can’t say the same things. That would be lame on my part if I started copying him.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a lot from Duane, especially his style, which is; Make sure you don’t say too much. Saying less can be more powerful than saying more on TV, where the picture tells the story.
Duane: It’s more difficult for Glen than it is for me about copying. That’s part of being a little brother, I guess.
Glen: If I said, “It is outta here,” I would be like, “Aw!”
Duane: I wish you would, though, at least once.
The Other Brother
While Duane and Glen Kuiper make their living on camera and talking baseball, a third brother, Jeff—who is right in the middle—prefers life out of the limelight.
“I’m camera shy,” says Jeff. “I don’t like doing interviews. I’m in the perfect spot behind the scenes.”
Jeff joined the Giants’ broadcasts as a producer in 1987, the year after Duane started calling the games. Jeff helps pick the shots shown on the air, obliging when Duane and his partner, Mike Krukow, start riffing on someone in the crowd. From his truck under the stands in left field, Jeff’s a disembodied voice in Duane’s ear, giving him information about the broadcast.
Jeff played baseball in high school and at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, then pursued a master’s in broadcasting at Kent State University.
“I was not nearly the athlete that Duane and Glen were,” says Jeff. “I could get by in high school and at a small college, but those guys were a couple levels better than me. That’s why I turned my attention to the television business right after college. TV and sports combined the two loves of my life.”
He started off working for This Week in Baseball in New York before moving to the Bay Area, settling on the Peninsula when the Giants still played at Candlestick Park.
If Duane and Glen claim there’s no sibling rivalry between them, Jeff is even more easygoing. “I’m the middle child,” he says. “We get along with everybody.”