Pat Hughes took a page out of Ronald Reagan’s book during the 2020 Cubs season
2020 marked Pat Hughes’ 24th season as the radio voice of the Cubs and it was a year like no other.
For the first time in his career, Hughes was broadcasting a 60-game season and was not traveling with the team for road games. That meant he and his radio cohorts — Ron Coomer and Zach Zaidman — had to broadcast games for 670 The Score off a TV feed from Wrigley Field when the Cubs were on road trips.
“We are radio guys – we were not used to that,” Hughes said on the Cubs Weekly Podcast. “It was a bit of a challenge. I found I had to be a little more disciplined and wait for the play to evolve before I jumped the gun. But I think it worked out OK.”
Hughes also explained how a story he once heard about Ronald Reagan helped bail him out of a technical issue early in the 2020 season.
Before he became President of the United States, Reagan was a sports announcer in Iowa in the 1930s. Working at WHO in Des Moines, part of Reagan’s job was to do simulated broadcasts of Cubs games from a telegraph wire.
That experience ended up helping out Hughes 80 years later.
“There was a funny thing that happened – funny now, not funny at the time,” Hughes said. “We were doing a game in Kansas City and we were at Wrigley Field working off the television monitor. The Cubs were leading by a wide margin late in the game and the person who was in charge of programming [the feed] decided he was going to cut to the Dodgers-Padres game right in the middle of ours.
“So here we are, we’re doing the Cubs and Royals and I forget who was batting — Anthony Rizzo or whomever. And all of a sudden, Anthony’s gone. I have no idea what’s going on. And I remembered an old story by Ronald Reagan…that I thought of that night when they cut away from the Cubs game and I’m left hanging — I have no idea what Anthony Rizzo is doing.
“So Ronald Reagan at that time, he was doing a recreation. He lost the feed — the machine broke, so he had no idea what was going on. He had the batter foul off about 35 straight pitches. So that’s what I had Anthony Rizzo do. ‘Here’s a swing and foul back. A swing and a dribbler foul. Line drive — foul down the right field line. And Coomer and I are laughing and kinda wondering, ‘where is the Cubs game? What is going on?’
“But finally after about two minutes — it felt like about two hours — they came back and they put the Cubs video on. But it was a good laugh and I’ve learned after all these years, it does no good to get uptight or mad or angry. Stay loose, have fun, everything’s gonna be OK.”
For the full story and more from our conversation with Hughes, check out the entire Cubs Weekly Podcast: