Count his first job as a swing and a miss. During his student days at St. Cloud State, Dick Bremer spent two years working an overnight shift for a local radio station, spinning records under the handle “The Duke in the Dark.” The job made him realize two things: He could make a living from his voice, and he didn’t want to do it by playing ABBA and the Bay City Rollers.
Strike two came in 1985, after Bremer had found the perfect venue for that silky baritone. Three years into his tenure as play-by-play man for the Twins’ cable television broadcasts, his employer folded, leaving him jobless and devastated.
“I honestly felt like I was never going to get a chance to do Twins baseball again,” Bremer said. “I did whatever I could to pay the bills, hoping I could get involved with them again. I know it sounds corny, but I believe I was meant to do this.”
So did the Twins, who put Bremer in the booth in 1987 for a second stint that became a solid hit. That distinct voice — strong and authoritative, yet warm and relaxed — has provided the TV soundtrack for 30 summers of Twins baseball, delivered by a guy who’s followed the team since boyhood.
His colleagues describe Bremer, 57, as diligent and detail-oriented. Bert Blyleven — his broadcast partner for 19 seasons — marvels at his mental warehouse of team history and statistics, while Twins pitcher Glen Perkins is among those who laud his knowledge of the game.
Early on, Bremer made the choice not to fabricate a home-run call or a catchphrase. He believed his identity would be forged through the bond he shared with his audience, as a Minnesotan and a lifelong Twins fan. Though he works hard at his craft in the broadcast booth at Target Field, he can’t help but feel that his summertime office is really just the best seat in the house.
“Even in those bleak years, when the Twins were losing 90 games a year, he was the one guy who was most disappointed when the season came to an end,” said Ryan Lefebvre, a Kansas City Royals broadcaster who began his career working with Bremer on Twins telecasts. “There are some people in this business who love the exposure, or they love the money. Dick really loves his job. That comes across on the air.”
Before a recent game against the Royals, Bremer sat in his booth behind home plate and scanned his smartphone for baseball news.
“Hey, Dick,” a man called from the concourse just below. “How about a shout-out for Wadena?”
Bremer instantly struck up a conversation, asking the man his name and inquiring about the state of Wadena’s baseball field, which had been damaged by a tornado in 2010. He exchanged friendly chatter with other passing fans, then pulled out a marker to sign the caps that some tossed into the booth for autographs.
That kinship comes naturally to Bremer, who has lived in Minnesota nearly his entire life — and yearned for it during his few years away. He wears his provincialism proudly: in the fishing stories he tells the Fox Sports North crew, in the TC logo cuff links on his wrists, in his ability to locate any obscure Minnesota town mentioned during a broadcast.
“Dick is a consummate pro, but I don’t know if he’d be as good if he wasn’t broadcasting his hometown team,” said Twins spokesman Kevin Smith, who also worked with Bremer as a former program director at Midwest Sports Channel. “In Minnesota, we like our local things and people, and Dick is about as local as you can get.”
The son of a Lutheran pastor, Bremer grew up in Dumont (pop. 200) in west-central Minnesota, with the town-team baseball diamond in his back yard. He memorized the Twins’ TV schedule so he would not miss a game; when he wasn’t watching the Twins or the town team, he was rounding up friends to play.
During high school in Staples, Minn., Bremer took speech classes, which planted the idea of building a career around his voice. He turned to radio after being cut from the baseball team at St. Cloud State. His TV career began in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he honed his play-by-play skills before returning to Minnesota as a weekend sports anchor for WTCN (Ch. 11).
Bremer began calling Twins games for the Spectrum Sports cable network in 1983. When the network folded in 1985, he worked as a youth director for his church and did occasional play-by-play for Gophers sports, riding out a stressful year before resuming his Twins career when the TwinsVision cable network was established in 1987.
“It was a very difficult decision to stay here and try to make ends meet, rather than going to Seattle or Milwaukee and trying to hook up there,” Bremer said. “But this was, and is, my home.”