Jason Benetti opened up on Tuesday about what led to his breakup with the Chicago White Sox and how he's feeling in the aftermath of his shocking decision.
"It was really hard emotionally." Benetti said on the "Sports Media" podcast. "I'm a pretty emotional person in the first place, but there are a lot of White Sox fans who I've become friends with over the course of my time doing these games and growing up loving the team. You can never take that out of somebody's heart — where they grew up.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Chicago sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
"Knowing the reaction of some people saying, 'Why is he doing this?,' I knew it was gonna be overwhelming. And I am so heartened by so many people reaching out personally. When it was over Friday morning, I just felt this lightness about me. I was dreading it because the I care about a great number of people in Chicago.
"There were moments the other night before it got announced that I was just really, really sad."
Benetti initially joined the White Sox booth in 2016 as venerated announcer Hawk Harrelson’s career was winding down. He became the full-time play-by-play man for the White Sox in 2019 when Harrelson retired.
Considered a rising star in the broadcast world, Benetti has called games across several sports on a national stage in recent years.
White Sox News
Asked what sparked his decision to leave his hometown for Detroit, Benetti cited his passion for analytics as a factor.
"[The Tigers] want to have the best telecast in Major League Baseball. And they want to do it by, number one, making sure that fans who don't understand analytics have the opportunity to, if they want to. But if they don't, they get everything they want to out of the baseball show, as well. Stories about players, fun at the ballpark, strategy, whatever it might be. They want the ballpark to come alive, and they also want new age fans to have the ability to have the touchstone of analytics, too.
"It's very clear with who they have installed in the front office with Scott Harris and Jeff Greenberg, and then A.J. Hinch is the manager — a guy who played baseball but also was in a front office and understands analytics very deeply, and mixed and matched lineups as well as anybody in Major League Baseball last year.
"But they also want to have fun. They also want to enjoy the ballpark. They also want people to come every day and have a smile on their face. I do like to have fun. I do like to have a good time doing baseball, and sometimes you're gonna miss and sometimes you're gonna hit, but the stuff that happens in the ballpark is the most glorious part of doing baseball. And they want that. They didn't say we'll tolerate that. They said we want it."
He also said there was a bit of tension with the White Sox when it came to national gigs, admitting he gave up football in 2020 because ESPN didn't have the ability to accommodate his baseball schedule.
"The Tigers and I know what I need to make Fox happy and the Tigers know that they're getting in bed with that. So it's just easier. And I don't know that it necessarily was reflective of the White Sox. It's simply the situation."
Benetti was able to work out scheduling conflicts with Detroit, in large part, because Dan Dickerson, the Tigers' radio announcer, told the team that if they could land Benetti, he would agree to fill in on television whenever needed.
"It chokes me up," Benetti said. "I mean it's it's the most selfless thing you could imagine in this realm."
Brooks Boyer, chief revenue and marketing officer of the Chicago White Sox, called Benetti "one of the very best broadcasters across multiple sports."
He also said the team allowed Benetti to "explore the opportunity with the Detroit Tigers" and is "proud to see Jason continue to live out his dream to bring the games he loves into the homes of fans in his unique style."
"We will miss Jason calling White Sox games and wish him the very best on this next chapter of his storied broadcasting career," Boyer said.
The search for a new TV play-by-play announcer is already underway, as the team looks for a new booth partner for longtime color commentator Steve Stone in 2024.