After calling 4,034 games for every iteration of Salt Lake Triple-A baseball since 1994, longtime Salt Lake Bees radio broadcaster Steve Klauke will step away from the microphone at Smith’s Ballpark after this season.

In his final season with the Bees, Klauke is feeling nostalgic as he reflects on approximately 36,300-plus innings broadcasted.

“I think a little bit (of nostalgia) has set in just from some of the messages. I’ve gotten messages from players that were with us in that first year of 1994,” Klauke said. ... To get messages from people that far back has really kind of touched me. It really has. The outpouring on social media from the fans has been completely overwhelming.”

A three-time Utah Sportscaster of the Year, Klauke has been the voice of the highest level of professional baseball Utah has to offer since 1994, when the Portland Beavers moved to Salt Lake.

Since then, the franchise has gone through three names (Buzz, Stingers and Bees), countless players (such is life in minor league baseball, where the roster is ever-changing due to call-ups and minor league assignments), and 10 managers, but the one constant has been Klauke.

The voice of summer in Utah, Klauke masterfully carries a three-hour broadcast by himself with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bees, interesting stories and great play-by-play.

During a press conference at Bees media day on Thursday, Klauke listed off Mike Trout’s batting average during his 20-game stint with Salt Lake in 2012 (.403) and David Ortiz’s stats during the 1999 season for the Buzz (30 home runs, 110 RBI and 20 errors at first base) off the top of his head.

He was thrown into the fire in his first-ever Salt Lake baseball broadcast in 1994, calling back-to-back doubleheaders.

“We were in Vancouver, got rained out the first two games, and so we had to play back-to-back doubleheaders to open our history. And so that was a real indoctrination of the Pacific Coast League and what we have to go through.”

Klauke has announced nearly 4,000 Salt Lake home runs through his career with his signature call — “It’s up there, it’s out there, it’s gone!”

He’s seen plenty of major league talent play on the field at the corner of 1300 South and West Temple — Mike Trout, David Ortiz, LaTroy Hawkins, Barotolo Colon and John Lackey, just to name a few.

He’s still in contact with a lot of the players that have played for Salt Lake, dating back to 1994.

“Well, that’s what I’ll miss the most, the relationships. I’m still in contact with guys who played for us in the 90s, either by phone, by text, social media. Social media has been great to reconnect with a lot of guys,” Klauke said.

From his perch behind home plate, with a birds-eye view of the field and of the majestic Wasatch Mountains, Klauke is doing what he always has wanted to be doing ever since he was in high school.

A Chicago native whose career ended up taking him to Utah, he’s loved his time spent calling baseball in Salt Lake.

“I had no idea what to expect when we started all this in 1994. Obviously like any other broadcaster, I would hope to have been in the big leagues at one time or another. But on the other hand, if you’re gonna be in Triple-A, this is the place to be,” Klauke said.

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Steve Klauke reaches 3,500-game milestone with the Salt Lake Bees

The game of baseball is in the daily fabric of Klauke’s life. Nearly every day from April to September, he’s at a ballpark, arriving hours before first pitch to talk to players during batting practice.

In its penultimate year as the home of the Salt Lake Bees, Smith’s Ballpark will be bustling soon enough with the buzz of thousands of fans during the summer.

The Bees play the first of 75 home games at Smith’s Ballpark on Friday at 1:05 p.m. MDT.

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“It’s a game that you can observe, you can pay attention to, but if you’re with a group of people, you can still talk to them, maintain a conversation,” Klauke said.

“... You get your full 27 outs, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the ninth inning ... I think after a long winter, especially this long winter, everybody likes the idea of spending some summertime outside and out at the ballpark.”

As he prepares to announce the final 150 baseball games of his career — Klauke will continue calling Weber State football and baseball — he will enjoy calling each game, as he has for the past 28 years.

“I think that 4,000-plus games was unfathomable when I started it in 1994, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

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