Greg Schulte vividly remembers the first time he sat behind the microphone: age 20 in Rock Island, Illinois. The red light illuminated and he thought one thing.
“I have to talk,” he says with a laugh. “So, I started reading the news. I was really nervous then. I really was.”
Schulte nailed it and, decades later, he celebrated calling his 3,000th game as the radio voice of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I loved baseball ever since I was a little kid,” Schulte says in a Chase Field conference room. “To me, it is the best sport.”
Schulte was hired by Jerry Colangelo and the D-backs in 1995, three years before the team hit the field for its inaugural game.
“It was a lifelong dream,” Schulte says. “I had done minor league baseball, college baseball, NBA basketball, the first four years of Cardinals football, and ASU football, basketball and baseball. My one true passion, though, was to get to the MLB.”
The son of a John Deere employee, Schulte grew up in the Quad Cities area of Illinois, just north of St. Louis. He became obsessed with listening to St. Louis Cardinals games called by the team’s radio voices, Harry Caray and Jack Buck.
“We had television, but I would listen to the transistor radio at night,” he says. “We didn’t get a lot of baseball on the television. Maybe one game on a Saturday. Now you can pick up a phone and watch a game, or watch it on television. Back in those days, it was all about radio.”
Schulte loved baseball, but knew the odds of making it to the majors as a player were stacked against him. He turned to radio.
“I could picture in my eyes nightly what they were talking about,” Schulte says. “There was a porch in right field that had a screen in front of it. They would say a ball hit the screen. I could envision that.
“In my mind, as I was playing games or watching games, I was calling the games at a very young age. I would imagine how I would call them. That’s how I grew into a passion for radio.”
Schulte attended a six-month broadcast school in Milwaukee before attending St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa. He then married his wife, Nancy, and started his broadcast career of 45 years and counting.
He moved to Arizona in the 1970s, following his parents’ relocation to Sun City. At the time, he was broadcasting University of Iowa basketball. When he arrived in the Grand Canyon State, he applied at KTAR and was hired.
He spent 14 years at KTAR prior to joining the D-backs. His resume also includes a 15-season run with the Phoenix Suns, working alongside Hall of Famer Al McCoy, first as a producer, then as a color commentator for the last two seasons.
The move to Arizona gave him the opportunity to listen to and meet Vin Scully, who was calling Dodgers games carried on KTAR. Upon his hiring by the D-backs, Schulte was further mentored by Thom Brennaman, who anointed him “the Gubnuh,” and Bob Brenly.
“It was a name bestowed on me by Thom Brennaman,” he explains. “We were at dinner in Atlanta. I had a sport coat on. I was dressed up. Thom said I looked like ‘a Southern Gubnuh,’ as he called me using a Southern drawl. He used the ‘Gubnuh’ part on-air the following night, and the nickname stuck.”
Schulte is now in his 19th season, and his 11th season with radio partner Tom Candiotti. He delivered the call of Luis Gonzalez’s walk-off, ninth-inning single to win game seven of the 2001 World Series over the New York Yankees. He was behind the mic for Randy Johnson’s historic achievements, including his perfect game on May 18, 2004.
In addition, Schulte called several no-hitters such as D-backs’ Edwin Jackson on June 25, 2010; the Cardinals’ Jose Jimenez on June 25, 1999; and Anibal Sanchez on Sept. 6, 2006, vs. the D-backs. He fondly recalls Aaron Hill’s cycles on June 18 and June 29 in 2012.
“I enjoy my work,” he says. “I have a terrific boss here in (D-backs President and CEO) Derrick Hall. He’s the absolute best. He’s so uplifting. You just want to do anything you can for him.”
The feeling is mutual.
“There is one voice that is truly synonymous with D-backs baseball and that’s Greg Schulte, who has been here since the beginning,” Hall says. “He not only does an incredible job each night of describing the action for our fans, but he has always represented the organization with class away from the ballpark and he’s become an invaluable part of our history.”
Fans frequently approach Schulte to share their highlights. But those aside, one group of folks makes Schulte particularly proud of his job.
“I’m the eyes for people who can’t see the ballgame,” he says. “I think the best compliments I get yearly—whether it’s phone calls, letters or emails—are from people who are blind. They tell me I’m their eyes and they really appreciate the color that I bring into their lives.
“They love the description of each and every play they imagine. I can’t imagine being blind or even sight-impaired. That’s about as good a compliment as you can get.”
Schulte makes it sound easy. He sits in his broadcast chair and speaks with Candiotti about “something we have a passion for”—baseball.
“He played the game for 16 years in the major leagues,” Schulte says. “We also know the history of the game, having grown up about the same time.
“We grew up loving the sport.”
Schulte and Nancy, with whom he has two children, Scott and Stephanie, live in the Valley and are preparing to celebrate their 44th wedding anniversary.
“Nancy and I have a lot in common,” he says. “We love sports. We love to travel. We’re best friends. It just kind of works.
“We married very young, but we waited almost seven years to have children. We didn’t rush into a family. I think we were better equipped to manage children and a family that way. We will celebrate anniversary No. 44 in November.”
Those are his keys to a successful marriage. So how did he succeed behind the mic?
“I’m prepared nightly,” he says. “I think my upbringing listening to a lot of baseball and the Hall of Famers really allowed me to put as good of a broadcast on the air nightly as I possibly could.
“I try and call a game as it should be called. I don’t try to bring a lot of craziness into it. I understand how hard it is to play the game. I want fans to understand that. When a player strikes out, I’ll credit the pitcher trying to get him out. I want to give the fans as much entertainment as we possibly can.”