Eldred is Still a Part of the Game


May 21, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — “My experience at Iowa helped shape me as a player and person. The relationships that I formed with the coaches, players and staff left a huge impression on my life. Being a Hawkeye means being a part of a big family.”

Those are the words of former Hawkeye and Major League Baseball player, and baseball television analyst Cal Eldred.

Eldred, who was a preseason first team All-American by Baseball America, played three years with the Hawkeyes (1987-89) before being selected in the first round by Milwaukee in the 1989 MLB Draft. The Urbana, Iowa, native went on to play 14 seasons (1991-2005) with the Brewers, Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.

Cal and his wife, Christi, left a big impression on the Hawkeye baseball program in 2001. The couple gave $245,000 for the installation of lights at Duane Banks Field.

“I couldn’t be happier about making this gift for Hawkeye baseball,” said Eldred back in 2001.

After his playing career came to a close in 2005, Eldred thought a lot about coaching professionally. Instead, Eldred and his wife decided to move to Cedar Rapids to raise their family.

“My wife and I have five kids,” Eldred said. “We wanted to live in Iowa and that’s not really conducive to being a father and husband running all over the country coaching baseball.”

Instead of coaching, Eldred was encouraged by friends to look into broadcasting.

“I had some friends say ‘I think you would really enjoy doing some color analyst work,” said Eldred. “You like baseball, you like to talk about it and maybe you should look into it.

“Talking about it is fun. The game of baseball is hard — I realize the game is hard — and I like to explain that to the people watching and listening.”

In 2009, Eldred got his start in television with Fox Sports Midwest doing some pre-and-postgame coverage for the Cardinals, which he still does. In addition to his work in St. Louis, Eldred is in his second season as the lead baseball studio analyst for the Big Ten Network.

“It’s really been a neat thing working with the Big Ten Network because it’s renewed my excitement for college baseball,” said Eldred. “Obviously being a Hawkeye, it’s nice to watch more closely what is going on in Iowa City and the Big Ten.”

Eldred says covering college baseball the last two years has been fun, but also admits it’s a lot of work.

“There are a lot of names that need to be looked at and researched, and coaches to talk to, people associated with all that you need to know,” Eldred said. “There is a lot of work to it. As I have gotten to know people the last couple of years, it’s really enjoyable to me.

“It is renewing relationships and establishing new relationships with players and coaches and SIDs. Every place I have gone, there has been someone there to help with my preparation.”

“I’ve always been impressed with Cal’s preparation,” said Mark Hulsey, Big Ten Network Executive Producer and VP/Production. “He’s serious about wanting to be a great broadcaster. We’ve increased our baseball and softball coverage this season with the addition of the “Diamond Report”, and Cal’s work on the show has been a big part of its success.”

Hawkeye fans can catch Eldred’s Big Ten analysis Sunday afternoon on the “Diamond Report” and throughout the conference tournament next week.