Barry Jackson

Fox drops Marlins TV play-by-play man Rich Waltz, two former Marlins

Jeff Conine was among three Marlins announcers dismissed on Wednesday
Jeff Conine was among three Marlins announcers dismissed on Wednesday

The Marlins will have a significant change in their broadcast booth for the third consecutive season.

Fox Sports Florida on Wednesday dropped Marlins play-by-play announcer Rich Waltz, who had filled the position for 13 years.

No replacement was named, and Fox is in the early stages of finding a new TV voice.

Also dismissed: studio analysts Jeff Conine and Preston Wilson. Conine previously rejected a non-TV job to remain with the Marlins with a much lower salary and diminished responsibilities.

The Marlins dumped TV analyst Tommy Hutton two years, used four rotating analysts in 2016 and hired Todd Hollandsworth as its TV analyst last winter.

Hollandsworth will return as the analyst, which means the popular Hutton won’t be rehired for a game analyst role.

Rich Waltz

Jessica Blaylock will return as the reporter on Marlins TV telecasts next season. Craig Minervini will remain the studio host.

Fox Sports insisted on the record that decisions on these dismissals were made entirely by Fox, not by the Marlins.

But several people close to the situation were highly skeptical of that, noting that Fox loved Waltz all the way until the time Derek Jeter bought the team. A source very close to Conine said Jeter did not want Conine to remain with the broadcast crew.

Waltz declined to answer when asked if he believes this decision was made by the new owners.

“I am disappointed but wish the Marlins and their fans and Fox Sports Florida the best,” Waltz said. “I enjoyed every one of my 13 seasons every inning of every game. I was blessed to work with great production people and terrific analysts. I am very proud of the charity event I starteed and helped run and hope it continues.”

The announcers were informed of the decision this week.

“After a thorough review of our Marlins telecasts, we have decided to make changes with the broadcast talent for the coming season,” Fox said in a statement. “We feel that this is the right time to make a change, and we’ve shared our decision with the team. We thank Rich, Jeff and Preston for the hard work and dedication they brought to the broadcast and wish them the very best.”

Waltz will call several more college basketball games for Fox. Waltz also announces college football and basketball for CBS Sports Net.