While Tim Neverett studied mass communications at Emerson College in the mid-eighties, he was a young student interning at sports radio WEEI in Boston. More than 30 years after that stint, Neverett will soon be a fixture on WEEI’s airwaves after being hired to join the Red Sox radio booth in December.
Since his days logging tape, answering phones, and collecting sound bytes on the 44th floor of Boston’s Prudential Tower for WEEI programming, Neverett’s career path has taken him from Colorado to China. Now, returning to his roots in New England, the 49-year-old landed one of the most coveted positions in sports media.
Joining the Red Sox
Neverett, who graduated from Emerson in 1988, wasn’t actively job-hunting this winter, still employed by the Pittsburgh Pirates on radio and television.
Neverett said he was searching the internet for jobs on behalf of his son, who is also pursuing a future in sports broadcasting, when he came across a posting for the Red Sox position. Neverett said his initial inclination was to pass by the advertisement, not believing the job was truly open to an outside applicant pool.
Instead, Neverett said he phoned a friend who works at WEEI’s parent company, Entercom Communications, and inquired about the opportunity. When he heard back, Neverett learned the station had interest in hiring him for the job, left vacant by the departure of Dave O’Brien for the Red Sox television booth. By Dec. 24, Neverett inked a deal to partner with Boston legend Joe Castiglione for the upcoming season.
Castiglione began his broadcasting tenure with the Red Sox in 1983, before Neverett even arrived on Emerson’s Back Bay campus. Neverett and his friends frequently visited Fenway Park, the young Nashua, New Hampshire native often contemplating a future just like Castiglione’s.
“As a student, I sat in the bleachers and looked up there and said, ‘I’d love to be up there some day,’” Neverett said. “And now I pinch myself, but I get to actually do it.”
Neverett’s versatility serves him well in the business. It would be a tough task to name a sporting event Neverett hasn’t covered— he’s called college soccer, swimming, track and field, and four separate Olympic Games. Neverett said his willingness to step outside his comfort zone to work these events reaped rewards in his chosen profession.
“Having the ability to never say ‘no’ to somebody when they asked me to do something helped me out a lot,” Neverett said. “You have to get the experience, you have to get exposure, you have to kick open any door that’s in front of you.”
Neverett first seized an opportunity far from home during his time in college, studying abroad for a semester at Emerson’s Kasteel Well in the Netherlands. Neverett said his time overseas made him more comfortable while broadcasting outside of the U.S.
“It’s still one of the best things I ever did at Emerson,” Neverett said. “I did get familiar with European broadcasting and did some projects related to European broadcasting.”
Learning by playing
Neverett said his first love has always been baseball, and while he was honing his voice in college, he was also a member of the Emerson baseball team. After drawing a walk in his first plate appearance with the Lions, Neverett blasted a homerun in his first official at bat. Neverett was a team captain for two seasons, and teammate Erik Sherman, now a baseball author, said Neverett lived up to that title.
“He always played hard, he always hustled, and he was certainly one of our more talented players,” Sherman said. “He led by example, and he was a great representative for us for four years.”
Neverett said playing baseball at Emerson allowed him to continue enjoying his pastime and also led to friendships that remain strong today. The experience exposed Neverett to the advice of his head baseball coach, who foretold the speedy second baseman’s future early on.
“Our baseball coach, Jim Bradley, used to tell us, when he would try to motivate us, that not a single one of us was ever going to make it to the big leagues unless it was as an announcer,” Neverett said.
Neverett's ascent to the Red Sox radio booth is encouraging for current students at Emerson who hope to follow in the alumnus’s footsteps, according to Joe Jacobs, a sophomore journalism major who is similar to Neverett in another way—he is currently the starting second baseman for the Lions baseball team.
Jacobs, a lifelong resident of Massachusetts and passionate Red Sox fan, said Neverett's hire validates his decision to attend Emerson to pursue a career in play-by-play broadcasting.
“It shows what an Emerson education can do for you if you are willing to work hard like he did,” Jacobs said. “It shows the students that they’re in the right spot.”
From Pirates to Sox
After seven seasons calling games for the Pirates, Neverett will transition from the broadcast booth at PNC Park to Fenway Park. Boston’s big league stadium is less than a mile walk from the home of the Lions baseball team during Neverett’s Emerson career, Roberto Clemente Field, named after one of the most famous Pirates of all time.
Sherman recalled filming segments at Fenway with Neverett for Emerson Independent Video during their time at the college, and said the chance to return to Boston was an opportunity intriguing enough to draw Neverett away from Pittsburgh.
“The Red Sox were as big a part of Tim’s youth as anything,” Sherman said. “For him to go home, and have the ability to do play by play for the Red Sox, it’s probably surreal for him.”
Neverett predicted an exciting 2016 season for the Red Sox, and said the team’s new-look bullpen should help Boston keep pace with the rival New York Yankees, who recently acquired top closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds. For the first time in his professional career, the local kid will be behind the mic for the biggest local games.
“This just does not happen, where you get to choose which team you want to work for,” Neverett said.
As Neverett searches for apartments before heading to Boston for a baseball season that Sox fans hope will last from April into the first days of November, Sherman said this season, and those that follow, will provide his college friend with an opportunity to leave a permanent footprint on Yawkey Way.
“I hope this is going to be Tim’s last play-by-play job in baseball,” Sherman said. “He really has a chance here to become an immortal in the annals of Red Sox broadcasting history.”