During the course of his 29-year career as the “Voice of the Salt Lake Bees,” the late Steve Klauke said his signature home run call nearly 4,000 times over the radio airwaves.

“It’s up there, it’s out there, it’s gone!”

Tony Parks, who took over as the Bees’ radio announcer this season after Klauke’s retirement at the end of 2023, was in Las Vegas preparing to call Salt Lake’s game against the Aviators when he heard the news about Klauke, who died at 69 after being hit by a car.

“Devastated, shocked. I was shaking throughout so much of the day. It was hitting me in waves throughout the course of that entire day,” Parks said.

As he prepared to call the game in Las Vegas, Parks knew he wanted to borrow Klauke’s signature home run phrase to honor him, and when Jason Martin hit a two-run home run, those familiar words came out of Parks’ mouth.

“It’s up there, it’s out there, it’s gone!”

“It was actually emotional because I called it and I felt this strength and power when I called it and trying to hit it really hard and call it with some energy and some excitement because it was the first big swing of the game,” Parks said.

The emotion overcame Parks, who paused for a bit following the call.

“It was in the first inning and I carried so much emotion all day, but then it was after that I actually had to pause for a long time because just what I was feeling in that moment, and so it was an honor to do that, pay tribute to him that night,” Parks said. “I’ll always thank Jason Martin for coming through with the home run.”

Few people spent as much time around Klauke during the season as Parks, who worked for the Bees as the on-field MC from 2007 to 2023 and filled in on the call for Klauke during the rare times he wasn’t at the ballpark, like in 2016, when Klauke was “called up” to fill in for Terry Smith on the Los Angeles Angels radio call.

Sitting in the home radio booth at Smith’s Ballpark, where Klauke had spent so much of his life, with some of his media guides and other materials still in the room, Parks reflected on the first time that he crossed paths with the legendary broadcaster in 1999, when Klauke was calling a basketball game at Hunter High.

Parks — a student at Hunter High — shook his hand and mentioned that he was interested in pursuing a broadcasting career of his own, and that he would love to learn from him.

“He was very helpful and just so nice and welcoming,” Parks said.

Then, Klauke learned that he’d have to call that evening’s game over the telephone.

“Without skipping a beat, (he) got a phone, got a handle, and called the whole game, pressing this phone up against his ear, and he called the whole thing and he never complained once,” Parks recalled.

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After the game, Klauke found Parks again and talked with him, and later that fall, when Parks broke into the industry and started calling high school football games for KFAN, Klauke treated him like an old pro.

“He treated me with such great respect,” Parks said. “He was happy for me. I think one of my fondest memories was how happy he was for other people and how respectful he was. So he was truly that guy that made everyone feel special and treated them with such respect and there will never be anything like him again.”

That’s the common thread when talking to those who knew Klauke — he was always kind, always wanting to know how you were doing.

“It wasn’t always baseball, it was personal lives. ... My kids, his kids, his family, what he was going through and what I was going through. And it was just, like I said, it was just somebody to lean on,” said Bees manager Keith Johnson, who played for the Salt Lake Stingers in 2002 and 2003 and managed Salt Lake in three separate stints — 2011-2014, 2016-2018, and 2023-present.

Bringing a major league voice to the minors

Salt Lake Bees players are joined by little league players as they pay tribute to the life of late broadcaster Steve Klauke during a moment of silence before the game against the Reno Aces at Smith's Ballpark in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

Klauke arrived in Salt Lake City from Chicago in 1991, working as a pre, half and postgame show host for the Utah Jazz and also hosting a sports talk show. When the Salt Lake Buzz arrived from Portland in 1994, he was hired as the team’s radio voice and rarely missed a game for the next 27 years. He also added Weber State football and men’s basketball to his duties in 2015.

His voice became synonymous with baseball in Salt Lake City, and he brought a major-league-quality radio call for a minor league team every single day.

“I had the privilege of being around some other guys that were radio announcers and actually got opportunities in the big league, and I don’t see any difference between them and Steve other than opportunity,” Johnson said.

“... It’s like his voice, his feel for the game, his understanding of the game, his understanding of people, his understanding of how to fill dead time with stories or facts or little-known facts or whatever. It’s unique.”

When it came to Salt Lake baseball, Klauke practically had a photographic memory and became the team’s historian, effortlessly recalling obscure facts and statistics and utilizing binders and binders full of scorecards dating back to the Buzz’s debut in Utah.

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In a press conference ahead of his final season with the team, he rattled 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.

In addition to his roles as radio announcer and de-facto historian, he also filled a number of roles for the team — public relations conduit before the team had a full-time PR person, a writer who wrote game recaps, and even a travel agent.

After decade of traveling to Bees games, Klauke — who had an affinity for exploring food on the road and wrote a “Triple-D in Triple-A” blog that chronicled his culinary adventures — knew the Pacific Coast League road map like the back of his hand.

“He was involved heavily in our travel plans and everything we did with our team travel because he knew how far the airport was from the hotel, the best way to get different places, and that flight’s not a good flight, and this one is, those kinds of things,” said Bees senior advisor of baseball relations Marc Amicone. “So every year when we would do our team travel, Steve was like our quasi traveling secretary, travel agent.”

Twenty-seven years at any job is a long time, but for Klauke, it never seemed like work. He showed up every day with the same passion and professionalism that allowed him to excel at his job, and enjoyed every moment. Even in retirement, Kluake still attended plenty of Bees games, talking with Johnson and the players every time he came to the ballpark.

“I think that 4,000-plus games was unfathomable when I started it in 1994, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Klauke said in 2023.

‘He was just so into his family’

Players and staff of the Salt Lake Bees pay tribute to the life of late broadcaster Steve Klauke during a moment of silence before the game against the Reno Aces at Smith's Ballpark in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

As much as he enjoyed calling games, he made sure to prioritize his family — wife Sue, son Adam, and daughter Lisa.

“It was awesome because he really could separate his family from all of this. And he was just so into his family,” Amicone said.

One of the most memorable pieces of advice Klauke gave to Parks when he took over was to bring his family on as many road trips as possible.

Parks was with his family — wife Natalie and daughter Sophie — in Las Vegas when he found out about Klauke’s death, in part because of that advice.

“He said, it’s just, it’s so important. Take them as many times as you can, and so that’s one reason why they were there was because of his advice,” Parks said.

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For Bees pitcher Kenny Rosenberg, who has spent time on and off with the Bees since 2022, something Klauke said to him outside of baseball resonated with him.

About a week after the birth of Rosenberg’s first son, which coincided with Rosenberg’s time on the injured list, he tried to start pitching again.

“I just watched my wife give birth to our first child and it was obviously a special week for me,” Rosenberg said. “And then as soon as I picked up a baseball after that, my arm hurt. My shoulder was cranky and I had to go on the injured list and I missed some time.”

Understandably frustrated he wasn’t able to return to play, a conversation with Klauke helped him realize that time on the injured list was meant to be.

“I had a conversation with Steve and he said sometimes these things happen for a reason and the timing of these things, and he kind of just reminded me that even though I may not be able to throw a baseball at the moment, that it may create an opportunity for me to spend extra time with my family,” Rosenberg said.

‘It’s a hole right now’

The initials of late broadcaster Steve Klauke are pictured on a patch on the jersey of Salt Lake Bees’ outfielder Bryce Teodosio during the game against the Reno Aces, in which the Bees paid tribute to Klauke’s life, at Smith's Ballpark in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

On Tuesday, as the Bees returned to Smith’s Ballpark for the first time since Klauke’s death, the team honored him with a pregame video tribute and a moment of silence. Below his old radio booth on the third-base line grass was a stencil of his initials surrounded by a radio headset, and the Bees wore a patch with the same logo, something they will wear for the rest of the season to honor Klauke.

“It’s just, it’s a hole right now. Just still trying to wrap my head around it,” Johnson said.

It brings Amicone some comfort that Klauke felt the love and support from the organization and Bees fans as the team honored him all season and prior to his final game, but the timing of his death — so close to his retirement, a new adventure in life, and travels with his family — is difficult.

“He was tenderhearted and he was so appreciative of that recognition. And again, he poured his whole heart and soul into the Bees and what he’d done all these years,” Amicone said.

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“So yeah, I mean, it’s nice that he was able to hear that and see that and be involved in that, but in some ways it maybe makes it more difficult because that was pushing him off to this other chapter in his life, new adventures coming up, and he’s not going to get to do those.”

For Parks’ part, he wants to honor Klauke’s legacy, both in the booth and out of it.

“Forever special to me personally, my whole family, and to every person here in this ballpark,” Parks said.

“He is where the culture begins and ends at this ballpark. He set such a standard and every person here knew that they had the emotional happiness and the emotional safety to do their jobs and also that they can feel themselves grow personally and professionally,” Parks explained. “He left no doubt that they would feel that, and so as I have this position as the broadcaster to call the games, I feel a great responsibility to do a great job at that. But I also feel a great responsibility to carry on the culture that he did, and that part is most personal to me.”

The initials of late broadcaster Steve Klauke are pictured on a patch on the jersey of Salt Lake Bees’ pitcher Andrew Wantz while he pitches during the game against the Reno Aces, in which the Bees paid tribute to Klauke’s life, at Smith's Ballpark in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. | Megan Nielsen, Deseret News
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