| Alumni Profile • Jeff Kuiper '80
From tractors to TV cameras
Though in age Henry Kuiper’s three sons are 14 years apart, on the subject of work they are of one mind: Baseball is a whole lot more fun than farm chores.
Still, middle son Jeff Kuiper ’80 said never in his wildest dreams did he picture doing Major League Baseball telecasts, much less doing them with both his brothers.
Though father-son teams have some precedent, the Kuiper trio is the only team of brothers ever in baseball broadcasting. From 1995 to 2003, they worked together for Fox Sports Net and KTVU to put San Francisco Giants games on the air. Behind the scenes, Jeff produced the games, while on camera older brother Duane called the play-by-play and younger brother Glen interviewed Giants players from the sidelines. In 2004, Glen moved across the Bay to become the play-by-play announcer for the Oakland A’s. Though they no longer work Giants games together, the three brothers continue to live close to each other and to thrive on the thing they’ve all loved since childhood.
“As kids we couldn’t wait to go to our dad’s games. We loved being around the sport,” Jeff remembered.
Henry Kuiper pitched in fast-pitch softball leagues in Racine, Wis., until he was 45. Son of a Dutch immigrant, he had to forgo high school, and any athletic aspirations, to help on the family farm. Though he still lives on the land (with daughter Kathy Dooyema close by in Brookfield), 81-year-old Henry Kuiper sold his farm equipment at auction two years ago and retired.
“He seems to have no regrets that none of his sons stayed to farm with him,” Jeff said. “He always wanted us to do something we loved.”
Kuiper’s three sons took different routes into the heart of the sport they loved. Duane, the standout athlete among them, played in the major leagues for 12 seasons, from 1973 to 1985, first for the Cleveland Indians, then for the San Francisco Giants. In the mid-’80s, Glen played two seasons in the minors for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals.
Jeff played one year of baseball at Calvin. The business major knew he wasn’t the athlete his brothers were, so to stay close to sports he moved to Cleveland, Ohio (where Duane was playing for the Indians) and entered a master’s degree program in sports administration at Kent State. An internship introduced him to sports telecasting, and he was hooked.
“It was fast-paced and exciting,” Jeff said, “and it brought in another of my loves—TV.”
The self-described “TV addict” used his internship experience to land a job in New York with This Week in Baseball. Within two years there he was producing highlight films for various teams, including the San Francisco Giants.
At about the same time that Duane moved from second base to the announcer’s booth in San Francisco, team executives hired Jeff to produce their games. The brothers have been bringing Giants games to fans ever since and have been recognized for their teamwork with several Northern California Area Emmy Awards.
“We like to think that we can entertain and educate people about the game at the same time,” Jeff said. “Every year I feel like we get a little better at it. I really love this work. I don’t know what else I’d do.”Watching the games half a continent away, Henry Kuiper loves to hear his son say that.
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