The Chicago White Sox filled their opening in the television booth Thursday, naming John Schriffen the new play-by-play broadcaster.
Schriffen, 39, will call games on NBC Sports Chicago with analyst Steve Stone. He received a multiyear deal.
A meeting with Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and Stone last weekend in Scottsdale, Ariz., sealed the deal, with Schriffen and Stone hitting it off “off the bat.” A half-hour meeting turned into a three-hour dinner, Schriffen said.
“The White Sox, specifically, is very exciting for me just because of what the organization is,” he said Thursday on a video conference. “When you look at what Jerry has done for this organization ... he just lives, breathes, sleeps baseball. And when I met with Jerry this past weekend, it was exciting to learn and just feel his passion for the team and just the history of baseball and how much he loves it and our shared passion for it.
“So the timing is right for me because I’ve done so many things in the course of my career in broadcasting, and the next step for me is to join a team, get to know the team better and really join a community and move to Chicago.”
This is the first play-by-play job for a team for Schriffen, who has worked for ESPN since 2020 and previously worked for NFL Network and CBS Sports. He said one of Reinsdorf’s prerequisites was that he would commit to the Sox job above other duties.
That became a sticking point with former broadcaster Jason Benetti, who shockingly left the team after the 2023 season to work in the Detroit Tigers TV booth. Benetti’s side work calling college football and basketball for ESPN and then Fox Sports was widely praised by critics but took him away from the Sox booth too often for Reinsdorf’s taste.
Schriffen said he would call “the majority” of Sox games but didn’t have an exact number.
“I want to be the voice and face of the Chicago White Sox broadcast,” he said. “And the goal is to be there throughout September. It was very clear, and that’s something I talked to Jerry (about) early on. Whoever he hired, he wanted to make sure this was going to be their main priority. And I said, ‘I’m very clear on that.’”
Schriffen has called Major League Baseball, NCAA basketball, football, softball and baseball and the NBA G League and Summer League for ESPN. He came to ESPN in 2020 to provide coverage of the Korea Baseball Organization. He said he has college basketball commitments remaining with ESPN and hopes to continue there in the baseball offseason but wasn’t sure about his future with the network.
Before joining ESPN, Schriffen served as a studio host and anchor for NFL Network, including on “NFL Total Access” and “NFL Gameday Live,” and as a play-by-play broadcaster and sideline reporter for CBS Sports.
Schriffen, who is biracial, becomes the second Black television play-by-play announcer in MLB with the Seattle Mariners’ Dave Sims, according to the Sox. The Dartmouth graduate was a pitcher during his college career.
“John is an incredibly talented sports broadcaster who brings energy, combined with national experience, to the booth,” Brooks Boyer, Sox chief revenue and marketing officer, said in a statement. “John and Steve Stone, along with our best-in-class production team at NBC Sports Chicago, will undoubtedly carry on the legacy and tradition of the great White Sox teams in the booth.”
The legacy of Sox broadcasters is undeniably strong, with Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray and Ken “Hawk” Harrelson having won the Hall of Fame’s Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting. Stone could follow them down the road.
Stone and Benetti, a Sox fan who grew up in Homewood, were popular together. But Reinsdorf was not a fan of their humorous interludes that became a hallmark of the broadcasts, sources said, preferring a straight, informative call that focused on the game itself.
Boyer’s relationship with Benetti also soured over the years, leading to Benetti’s exit from his dream job.
Schriffen told reporters he’s excited to do baseball play-by-play because “you have time to talk and tell stories.” He called Stone a “legend who has been and seen everything in the game” and said he hopes to be Stone’s “point guard” during broadcasts.
“I want to set him up, I want to pull things out of him, I want to put him in the best position,” Schriffen said. “And I hope that with our broadcast, fans can take away one thing, learn one thing about the game or about the team every single broadcast. That’s why I can lean on Steve to do that.”
Schriffen has a news background from early in his career and was a sideline reporter before moving to play-by-play jobs.
“I know how to talk to people,” he said. “I know how to get information out of people.”
He’s eager to get to know Sox fans and believes they’ll hit it off quickly because of their shared passion for baseball. He knows their reputation for being critical and welcomes all feedback.
“I respect that passion,” he said. “Even if they can be hard, I understand because that’s what sports is. Things are never going to be perfect.”