Exclusive Q&A: Mike Antonellis Talks Legacy, New Job, MLB Shutdown, More
Image Courtesy: Mike Antonellis/Pawtucket Red Sox
Mike Antonellis spent 15 seasons as the central voice of the Portland Sea Dogs, who have long been the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.
However, this winter, due to his continued excellence over the New England air-waves, Antonellis accepted a new job with the Red Sox’s Triple-A team, the Pawtucket Red Sox. He takes on this new challenge with 3,163 minor league baseball games under his belt, including 2,109 Sea Dogs contests.
Antonellis, dubbed the “Voice of the Sea Dogs,” is the longest-serving broadcaster in the team’s 26-year history.
“We are very happy for Mike and the opportunity that he has to further his career with the Pawtucket Red Sox,” Sea Dogs President and General Manager Geoff Iacuessa said in a statement. “At the same time, we are sad to see Mike go. I know that he will be missed by our staff and fans. Mike could always keep the broadcast entertaining for our fans no matter the situation. His character, professionalism, and work ethic made him an outstanding representative of the Sea Dogs organization.”
Antonellis, who was also in charge of the team’s media relations, spoke with us regarding his legacy in Portland, his new job in Pawtucket, his thoughts on the MLB season’s suspension, and more.
This interview occurred on March 17.
Andersen Pickard: You were recently promoted to the PawSox. Can you explain to me a bit more about your new responsibilities and role?
Mike Antonellis: The new role will be mainly as a broadcaster. I will be the radio and TV broadcaster for the team. They do 30-plus TV games at home.
AP: How important was it to you that you get to remain in New England and with the Red Sox organization?
MA: That was huge. I don’t think there would have been any [other] situation I would have left the Sea Dogs for. With Pawtucket and being close to home, it just felt like the right thing to do.
AP: You had a legacy in Portland, working there for nearly 15 years. What does it mean to have such a legacy and impact on Portland baseball?
MA: It’s amazing. A lot of people told me that I shouldn’t have been surprised [about the job offer] but I really was. I guess you don’t think about stuff like that. The responses really hit me hard and touched my heart a lot. It is nice that I was able to entertain people and that people liked what I did, and they liked me as a person.
AP: You get to wake up every day knowing that you are working in baseball, an industry that so many people dream of working in. How does it feel to be able to keep working in baseball?
MA: I am from Massachusetts and I have gotten to work now for two New England affiliates. The odds of that are very slim; there are not many New England minor league teams. There are tons of New England people who want to do this so I feel very fortunate that I get to do it. I never take it for granted.
AP: It is safe to assume that during your time in Portland, you received other job offers. What made you choose to leave Portland in favor of Pawtucket?
MA: It was just the opportunity. It’s Triple-A, so it is a higher level. Pawtucket’s track record has been incredible with their broadcasters going to the big leagues. I get to go back home and work for that storied franchise. And then, of course, the possibility to go with them to Worcester [Mass.] and work in their new ballpark. There is a lot of combinations [of perks]. It was time to face a new challenge and I get to do things that I have not done before; that is something that I like to do.
AP: What is your favorite memory from Portland?
MA: I always say that the 2006 Eastern League Championship was the best because we celebrated that as a team. It was a fun run and the only time I’ve ever been part of a championship. And also the Field of Dreams games; I will always think of that when I have memories of Portland.
AP: You worked with both players and the media in your time in Portland. How much will you cherish and remember those relationships?
MA: The great thing now is that with social media, I can stay in touch with guys who played years ago. And Kevin Thomas [of the Portland Press Herald] was our only day-to-day beat writer in my time there. … I had a terrific relationship with all the people there. Some of the TV people are my great friends. I got to know so many people; it was like we were one big team. I will miss those guys a lot.
AP: The minor league season is being pushed back indefinitely due to the coronavirus, meaning your debut could be pushed back more than a month. What is your reaction regarding that?
MA: The older you get, you have more perspective on things. In reality, this is hurting a lot of people. Your first and foremost is staying healthy and I wouldn’t want to start knowing that we are not healthy. … I have older parents so those are the things that you think about and it is good to be back home.
AP: What advice would you give to future Voices of the Sea Dogs?
MA: To love Maine. They are going to love Maine, they are going to love that ownership group, and they are going to love the front office. That’s a great family atmosphere with good people. It’s a hard place not to get along with everyone. It’s a great spot. People ask me why I was there for that long; they [the colleagues] are the ones that made it easy. A lot of us in that office were there for a long time … and still are.
AP: You have a podcast called Behind the Mike, which covers entertainment, sports, news, and more. Is it safe to assume that will continue following your promotion?
MA: Yes, absolutely. I hope to do more of that and have more interviews and dive into my personal experiences. It was something that I was pushed to do and now I am really enjoying it.
AP: Lastly, as a New England sports fan, what does it mean to you that Tom Brady will not return to the Patriots in 2020?
MA: I grew up when [football] was really bad in New England so I remember the dark days. I knew it would come to an end. To have one guy play for that long defies all the odds. It is disappointing but I kind of expected it and wow, what a run. I remember growing up watching Joe Montana and the 49ers, who went to Steve Young, but the Patriots were never like that. It has been such a treat.