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Brewers Broadcaster

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Mills County Native, Nishna Valley Graduate Lane Grindle Embraces Major League Radio Job With Milwaukee Brewers

By Joe Foreman, Editor

Lane Grindle has fond memories of his first experiences behind a microphone - serving as the public address announcer for peewee football games in Malvern, Iowa. It was a pretty prestigious gig for a junior high kid that had aspirations of becoming a sports broadcaster.

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“I would do all kinds of weird stuff. I’d give away fake prizes to people in the stands – telling them to turn to page 85 in their game program to see if they had won a prize. Of course, there wasn’t even a game program,” Grindle recalled. “I think I was probably annoying a lot of people, but I was just kind of getting comfortable and having fun behind the microphone.”

Grindle didn’t realize it at the time, but being the P.A. guy at ‘Lil Panther football games in the mid 1990s and for sporting events at Nishna Valley School would serve as a humble beginning to a career in sports radio and eventually a job in major league baseball.  

Since 2016, Grindle, a graduate of Nishna Valley High School (2000) and the University of South Dakota (2004), has been a member of the Milwaukee Brewers’ radio broadcast team, a position he took on after spending three years at a radio station in Vermillion, S.D., and a decade working with the University of Nebraska’s Husker Sports Network.

Grindle, a lifelong Cornhusker fan, said he had a great job at Nebraska, where he handled a variety of tasks over a 10-year span - hosting a nightly talk-radio show, calling baseball games, working the sidelines at football games, hosting coaches’ radio and television shows and even doing P.A. at Memorial Stadium. He and his family had no intentions of ever leaving Lincoln.

“I really thought I’d stay there forever – we loved it,” he said. “Lincoln was home and still is to some degree because we had all four of our kids there.”

In January 2016, however, Grindle learned the Brewers might have a job opening on their radio broadcast team. He was encouraged by fellow broadcaster and close friend Kevin Kugler to consider applying for the position should it become open.

“He (Kugler) said, ‘I think this is perfect. You ought to look at it,’” Grindle recalled. “We had just built a house about two years prior and we had kind of shut down the whole career path thing. It was let’s just stay here at Nebraska for the rest of our lives, but I always had a little bit of an itch and ‘what if’ for major league baseball.”

The Brewers job did eventually open up and Grindle put his name in for consideration along with about 200 other applicants.

“I looked into it and one thing led to another. I knew it was going to take a special situation for me to go or for somebody to hire me because I wasn’t in professional baseball,” Grindle said. “I got the phone interview and then I got the in-person interview where I flew up to Milwaukee."

The last step of the interview process, Grindle said, was to fly down to Arizona and meet with Bob Uecker, the Brewers' Hall of Fame broadcasting legend. Grindle and Uecker hit it off over dinner and the job was offered. Grindle accepted and joined the Brew Crew’s broadcast team just as spring training was beginning in Arizona.
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Working with ‘Mr. Baseball’
Now into his fourth season with the Brewers, Grindle said the job has definitely lived up to his high expectations. He’s the “No. 3” guy on the broadcast team along with Uecker and Jeff Levering. Grindle’s primary duty is game day broadcasting. When Uecker doesn't travel on a road trip, Levering moves up to the No. 1 chair and Grindle slides into the No. 2 spot. Grindle also writes a blog about Milwaukee’s minor league prospects, provides content for the Brewers’ social media networks and does community relations work for the ballclub.

“I’m a little bit of a utility guy - Swiss army knife - for the Brewers on some of the other stuff,” he said. “It’s good. It’s really fun.”

Having the opportunity to work with Uecker is an “unbelievable honor,” Grindle said.  Uecker, affectionately known as “Mr. Baseball” to many fans, is nearing his 50th season as a Brewers broadcaster. The former major league player is also recognized for his roles as an actor and his humor.

Grindle said he’s learned a lot from Uecker about baseball, respect for the game and humility. Uecker makes his co-workers feel like family, Grindle said.

“It’s incredible. There really aren’t words that would accurately describe what it’s like to work with Bob,” he said. “He’s a legend that’s on Mount Rushmore for baseball broadcasters. He’s the funniest person I’ve ever met – he makes me laugh every day in a different way every time.

“I’ve been able to learn a lot from him. I’ve learned a lot about the game and how to respect the game, but at the same time not take ourselves too seriously and have fun while we’re doing this. I think he does that better than anybody and that’s the way I like the broadcast to be, too. I think we fit in that regard.”
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Brewers Among MLB’s Best
Grindle has the good fortune of working for a Brewers ballclub that’s quickly become one of the top teams in major league baseball. The Brewers won the National League Central Division in 2018 and were within one victory of winning the National League pennant and advancing to the World Series.  They’re expected to contend again for a division and league championship in 2019.

When Grindle came to Milwaukee, the Brewers were a young team in rebuilding mode, which made last season’s success even more gratifying.

“It was a lot of fun, but stressful, too, because every step was a step closer to this thing that seemed unthinkable when I took the job,” he said, “because the Brewers were rebuilding and here we are three years later in the NLCS with a chance to go to the World Series.”

Grindle said the Brewers are a team with strong chemistry made up of team-oriented players who work hard and play for another.

“Because of what they’ve accomplished together, you really want it for those guys,” he said. “That’s what was fun for me – to watch those guys compete and have such amazing success. You get to see behind the scenes and how hard these guys work, but also how much they enjoy playing the game together.”
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Brewers Baseball Family
Like many baseball fans from southwest Iowa, Grindle grew up rooting for the Kansas City Royals. As a fan, he even went to four of Kansas City’s postseason games in 2014 and 2015.

“For me, that was a great ending to being a fan,” he said. “After they won the 2015 World Series, a few months later I’m interviewing for the Brewers job. It’s like the ultimate mic drop on being a fan. That was great – really cool. I got to experience that as a fan and then move on into major league baseball.”

There were certainly adjustments to be made, but the move to Wisconsin has worked out well for Grindle and his family. He and his wife, Ali, have four children (Josie, Payton, Harper and Luke), who enjoy living in Milwaukee, coming to the ballpark and being part of the Brewers’ extended family.

“The Brewers are great. They do a lot to make the families be involved and feel like they’re part of things,” Grindle noted. “My kids are into it. They love coming to the games. My 10-year-old daughter (Josie) can even score baseball. Every time she comes to a game, she sits and scores and when she sits at home and watches a game, she scores.”
Grindle shared a favorite story about Josie after the Brewers lost Game 7 of last year’s NLCS to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“She was crying after the game so I told my wife to send Josie into the radio booth,” Grindle recalled. “My wife sends Josie in and Bob sees her right away and waves her over. He gives her a big hug. As she’s crying, Bob’s consoling her and tells her, ‘You’re going to see a lot of World Series games with this team, I promise you.’ He gives her a pep talk and she’s feeling better.

“Then, later we’re walking out of the ballpark and I see Robin Yount (former Brewers All-star and MLB Hall of Famer). I called out to Robin to say ‘goodbye’ and he sees that Josie’s been crying. He bends down and says, ‘Hey, it’s going to be OK. The Brewers had a great season.’ As Robin walked off with his wife, Ali turned to Josie and said, ‘I know you’re really sad, but someday you’re going to look back at this moment and think, OK, the Brewers lost, but I got consoled by Bob Uecker and Robin Yount.’  That’s going to be a cool story for her to tell some day.”
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Appreciation For Southwest Iowa Upbringing

The Grindles do make it back to Iowa and Nebraska occasionally to visit family and friends or catch a Husker game. Ali is a Sioux City native.

Grindle said he has a strong appreciation for his southwest Iowa upbringing and has enjoyable memories of playing youth baseball in Glenwood for the J&N Fertilizer team and being part of Nishna Valley baseball, football, basketball and track teams in high school. He also played sports in his younger years while a student at Malvern. He enjoyed participating in each sport and eventually ran track in college at South Dakota, but knew early on that baseball would be his calling when it came to a broadcasting career.

“It became clear very early in my career which sport I enjoyed calling the most,” he said. “I like baseball because it’s this blank canvas - you get to paint a picture for your audience.”

Grindle chuckled when asked if his signature home run call at Nebraska – “Bye, bye baseball!” – followed him to Milwaukee.

“That was a call that got pretty popular in Nebraska and it was fun, but I felt when I got here that I’m the No. 3 guy, I probably don’t need my own catchphrase,” he said.

Overlooking the baseball diamond in Arizona at a Brewers’ spring training game earlier this year, Grindle said a day doesn’t go by that he’s not reminded of how special of an opportunity it is to be part of the Milwaukee organization and America’s favorite pastime.

“You do this long enough and it would be easy to fall into some sort of routine with it, but I try to never let myself do that,” he said. “You get to come to major league stadiums every day, you get to be around some of the greatest stars in the game and you get to watch them play every day. Most of us understand just how incredible this is. We have so much respect for the game and we know that we’re lucky that we get to do what we do.”