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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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YES Network’s Ryan Ruocco Talks Calling Yankees Perfect Game

  • Play-by-play caller was filling in for lead Yankees announcer Michael Kay.
  • Domingo German's gem was the first time Ruocco called a perfect game.
Ryan Ruocco talks about calling perfect game.
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

YES Network’s Ryan Ruocco is both lucky and good. 

As the fill-in play-by-play announcer to lead New York Yankees announcer Michael Kay, he only calls about 20 regular season games.

But Wednesday night was one of them as the young announcer nailed his call of Yankees pitcher Domingo German’s perfect game against the Oakland A’s: only the 24th perfect game in Major League Baseball history.

With German one out away from a perfect game in the 9th Inning, the 36-year-old Ruocco rose to the occasion.

“Esteury Ruiz stands in his way. Grounded to third, (Josh) Donaldson has it, there it is — perfection for Domingo German!” he declared. 

Then the young play-by-play caller smartly paused to let the picture of Yankee players mobbing German amid crowd roars before continuing.  

“Domingo German has thrown the 24th perfect game in baseball history. The fourth perfect game in Yankees history,” he added. “And you will always remember where you were June 28 of 2023.”

In a phone interview from Oakland, Ruocco told Front Office Sports it was the first time he’d ever called a perfect game.

Both Ruocco and analyst Jeff Nelson were getting butterflies in the broadcast booth as the Yankees rolled to an 11-0 win over the A’s.

As early as the third inning, Ruocco mulled whether German would flirt with a no-hitter because his stuff was so “dominant.”

Then when Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo saved the day with a brilliant back-handed defensive stab in the 5th inning, Ruocco started to believe.

He texted David Cone (one of three Yankees up until that point to throw a perfect game) and asked, ‘When did you start thinking about it?” 

Cone texted back, “Now.”

That was it for Ruocco. “I was like, ‘Now, I can totally lean into it.”

Lady luck was on the side of Ruocco, who also calls NBA and WNBA games for ESPN. 

On Monday night, he boarded a routine flight to call the three-game series between the Yankees and A’s from Tuesday to Thursday. 

But his flight from John F. Kennedy Airport was delayed on the tarmac – and eventually canceled. 

Then he came up empty as he scrambled to book another flight to the West Coast on Tuesday. 

Fortunately for him, an early morning flight from Newark Airport opened up at the last minute. He booked it on his phone, ordered an Uber pickup for 2 a.m., then snatched 45 minutes of sleep in a hotel lobby.

Despite a two-hour delay, Ruocco finally made it to Oakland on Tuesday afternoon to call the three-game set in person. 

Otherwise, he would have to remotely call all three games – including Wednesday’s perfect game – from YES studios in Stamford, Conn.

“That was far and away the worst travel day I’ve ever had in my career. And absolutely the closest call I’ve ever had to getting to an event. And thank God I got here,” he said.

Ruocco’s performance drew almost universal praise across social media. 

Tweeted Ariel Helwani: “Love how Ryan Ruocco just let this moment breathe. One of the best in the biz shows why he is just that, once again.”

Ruocco appreciated the support. 

“I grew up a die-hard Yankee fan. I know that those historic moments are especially important with this franchise. I also know that one of the honors of getting to broadcast New York Yankees games is your voice gets attached to those historic moments. And the rarest of those moments is what happened last night,” said the Fishkill, New York native.

“So for me, the most satisfying part is that people will be happy with what they hear as they watch that historic moment in Yankees history and baseball history.”

Nelson, the former Yankees reliever, told Ruocco he was just as nervous in the TV booth as in the bullpen watching teammates David Wells and Cone throw perfect games in 1998 and 1999. 

Of course, Don Larsen was the first Yankees pitcher to famously notch a perfect game during the 1956 World Series.

On Thursday morning, Ruocco’s adrenaline was still pumping. He was up way early West Coast time to call today’s afternoon game on YES at 3:30 p.m. ET. 

So how do you top Wednesday’s perfection? That’s a tough one, said Ruocco.

“I would imagine it’s going to be like brunch after the wedding,” he joked. “Where you don’t have the same sort of spirit or energy. Instead, most of the juice you’re emitting is about recapping the glory from the night before. I’m guessing that’s what today’s game will feel like.”

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