LOCAL NEWS

Steve Klauke, legendary Bees broadcaster, gets memorialized in stadium that cemented a decadeslong career

Jun 18, 2024, 8:55 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — Having broadcast over 4,000 games in nearly three decades over the air, Steve Klauke will be remembered as being the “voice” of the Salt Lake Bees.

However, Klauke’s role with the organization went beyond that. He was the team’s unofficial communications director during road trips and its unofficial historian, rifling off all sorts of knowledge he had accumulated over the years.

And, at one point, he traveled so frequently with the team that the Bees’ front office asked him to help them finalize the team’s travel schedule once the latest Pacific Coast League schedule dropped.

“He was involved heavily in our travel plans and everything we did in travel,” said former Salt Lake Bees general manager Marc Amicone as he described Klauke’s knack for knowing the best flights, hotels, and restaurants to visit out of town.

But beyond all of those official and unofficial team roles, Salt Lake Bees players, coaches, employees and executives say Klauke was always there for an interesting — sometimes life-changing — conversion and a laugh.

Even after his retirement after 29 years on the air, he remained a fixture and trusted friend to everyone at the ballpark.

It’s these types of interactions that they say they will miss the most after Klauke’s death last week.

Legendary Salt Lake Bees broadcaster Steve Klauke is memorialized during the opening preparations for a Bees game on Tuesday. (Alex Cabrero, KSL TV)

Legendary Salt Lake Bees broadcaster Steve Klauke is memorialized during the opening preparations for a Bees game on Tuesday. (Alex Cabrero, KSL TV)

“He was more than just the voice of the Bees. He was like a father, a friend, a brother — all those things. … It’s a hole right now,” said Salt Lake Bees manager Keith Johnson, who knew Klauke for more than 20 years as a player and a coach. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. … I’m going to miss him for sure.”

The Bees returned to Smith’s Ballpark for the first time since his death, holding multiple tributes to the long-time broadcaster. Team officials say they believe at least some of the more than 10,000 tickets sold for the game were from fans wishing to pay their respects to the Klauke through the game.

The team held a moment of silence, as images of Klauke throughout his career played across the outfield video board. The team also debuted a new jersey patch with Klauke’s initials underneath a headset, which will be displayed on their primary home, road and alternate jerseys for the rest of the season.

That logo was also painted onto the third-base line below where Klauke sat to call games for so long. It will remain on the grass for about the next week.

It’s one last tribute to Klauke who left an impression on many people at the ballpark. Johnson cracked a smile as he remembered Klauke taking every opportunity to make a pun and to talk about the food in every Pacific Coast League city. His passion for food led to a blog about the restaurants he enjoyed most in Triple-A baseball.

Klauke had a special place in the player’s lives. During games, he was the narrator for the more than 800 players who came through the Bees organization between 1994 and 2023. He didn’t just call games on the radio, he connected the players with their families who often couldn’t make it to the ballpark to be there in person.

(My mom) wouldn’t watch the broadcasts, she’d listen to the radio while watching. She had Steve in her ears for two years and I know she had grown a liking to him and the way he’d call a game,” said Bees pitcher Kenny Rosenberg. “The way that he told stories and made every player feel like a human — I know they appreciated that.”

Klauke was also widely known for his vast baseball knowledge.

His broadcast booth was filled with books filled with scorecards, notes and other information dating back to the team’s first season. He would tell stories about plays, moments and statistics from random moments and players in team history.

“Knowledge is one thing, but the memory (that he had). He would remember when Albert Pujols hit a home run to beat us in the playoffs — and right where the ball landed,” Amicone said.

Legendary Salt Lake Bees broadcaster Steve Klauke is memorialized during the opening preparations for a Bees game on Tuesday. (Alex Cabrero, KSL TV)

Legendary Salt Lake Bees broadcaster Steve Klauke is memorialized during the opening preparations for a Bees game on Tuesday. (Alex Cabrero, KSL TV)

But not everything was about baseball. Johnson said the two would talk all the time about philosophy and life, especially their two families. Klauke loved to talk about his wife, Sue, and their two children Adam and Lisa.

And when it came to family, Rosenberg reflected on a purposeful conversation the two had in 2022. Rosenberg had just suffered a frustrating injury setback shortly after becoming a father for the first time, when Klauke approached him with advice for the moment.

“He said, ‘You know, sometimes these things happen for a reason and the timing of these things.’ And (he) reminded me that even though I couldn’t throw a baseball at the moment, it might create an opportunity to spend extra time with my family,” Rosenberg said. “I really dove into that and … appreciate the time I got to spend with (my wife and son).”

These are the types of things that players, coaches and colleagues thought of before Tuesday’s game.

If there’s one consolation, Amicone said he’s happy Klauke was able to know how much he was appreciated after his farewell tour last year. However, his voice drops as he remembers how excited Klauke was to spend his retirement traveling with his family.

“He was tender-hearted and so appreciative of that recognition because he put his heart and soul into the Bees,” he said. “But, in some ways, it makes it more difficult because that pushed him to new adventures coming up and he’s not going to be able to do those things.”

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Steve Klauke, legendary Bees broadcaster, gets memorialized in stadium that cemented a decadeslong career