Since he was a teenager, Hank Azaria has been preparing for the role of baseball announcer Jim Brockmire. Azaria would imitate the baseball announcers of his youth, with their unmistakable inflections and patterns of speech, and wondered if they sounded like that all the time. “Do they sound like this when they’re making love to their good lady wives?” Azaria asks. “Do they sound like this when they’re really upset or drunk off their asses?”
Many years later, Azaria’s imitations spawned a Funny or Die short about Jim Brockmire, a broadcaster who has a major-league meltdown on air after discovering his wife’s infidelity.
IFC’s new comedy series Brockmire picks up 10 years after that incident, as an off-the-rails Brockmire gets hired by Jules (Amanda Peet), owner of the Morristown Frackers, the most minor of minor-league baseball teams.
“In its own weird, alcohol‑soaked, soporific, dark, gritty, sad way, this is a love letter to baseball,” Azaria says of Brockmire. It’s also a toast to the old-school broadcasters who understood that baseball just isn’t baseball without a few beers. “A lot of the guys I grew up with in New York, not just in baseball, were open about it,” Azaria recalls. “The guy who used to call the Rangers games — ‘The Big Whistle’ Bill Chadwick — used to often spill his beer on the air and go, ‘Oh! I spilled the Schaefer, folks!’ It was just part of the broadcast.”