It’s hard to believe that it has been 15 years since Tom Caron joined the broadcasting ranks at New England Sports Network.
The Lewiston native started out as a co-host of NESN’s Front Row show in 1995, moved over to Boston Red Sox broadcasts as a field reporter nine years ago, and moved into the studio as pre-game and postgame host seven years ago.
The anchor desk will be more crowded this year as three Baseball Hall of Fame members (Jim Rice, Dennis Eckersley and Peter Gammons) will rotate in as co-hosts along with former Sox infielder Brian Daubach, Boston Globe writer Tony Massarotti, Tony Lee.
There will also be some guest hosts.
All three Hall of Famers were on hand for the first game.
“I don’t know how often that’ll happen, but we will do it from time to time,” said Caron. “We’re going to rotate through them with two of them joining me for most of the games.
“I joke about it being three guys from Cooperstown and one from Watertown.”
The adage about too many cooks spoiling the broth isn’t applicable at the NESN studio desk, according to Caron.
“We are going with multiple analysts more often. We’ll have more people on the set more often, which I like,” he said.
Caron is looking forward to drawing upon the wealth of knowledge former Boston Globe writer and ESPN analyst Gammons brings after signing a contract with NESN.
“It was great for him to be closer to home and he still loves the Red Sox so much, but it’s obviously great for us, too,” Caron said. “He’s so connected. I was joking with [Sox general manager] Theo Epstein that NESN made the biggest acquisition of the Winter Meetings after they were over.”
Gammons’ addition has prompted NESN to shift its format and focus a bit on the Red Sox pre-game and post-game shows and discuss or even break more non-Sox baseball stories or issues.
“He can now bring news and information that literally no one else in the industry has,” he said. “I think it allows us to broaden our scope a bit more.”
The 46-year-old Caron admits he still misses field reporting, but the switch to the studio has brought with it advantages for a husband and father of two.
“You miss being there with the energy of the ballpark, but it’s good for me being able to be home more with two young boys, ages 13 and 10, and they’re playing everything when it comes to sports,” he said.
Caron, who worked at Portland’s WGME (Ch. 13) from 1988 to 1993 and was the radio voice of the Portland Pirates for two seasons (1993-94 and 1994-95), also serves as NESN’s play-by-play man for Hockey East broadcasts in the “off-season.”
Although NESN is owned by the Red Sox, Caron says criticism that he and other hosts are too pro-Boston is unfair.
“I’ve never once been told what not to say or what to say,” Caron said. “Especially with these guys [John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino] coming in back in 2002, they never have tried to make us the house shill. No one has been more critical of the team in recent years than Dennis Eckersley.”
Recent hot-topic issues have been dealt with daily.
“We’ve been pushing the [David] Ortiz vs. [Mike] Lowell thing right out of the gate,” he said. “The Red Sox have as educated a fan base as any team in any sport so they’re going to see right through us if we’re not calling it like it is.
“We think we’re as opinionated as any media out there.”