"I regret the timing of my decision to leave so close to the start of the season, but this opportunity allows Betsy and I to fulfill a dream of owning a business in the Wisconsin Northwoods," Stocker said. "I have had a great run behind the microphone, and I have been able to witness some great moments in Memphis baseball history. I have also watched Memphis grow into a great sports city, and I am happy to have played a small part in it."
Stocker was the broadcast voice of professional baseball in Memphis for 18 years, including the last six years with the Redbirds since their inception in 1998. Before that, he was the voice of the Memphis Chicks for 11 seasons, winning the Southern League's Broadcaster of the Year honors in 1988, 1996 and 1997. He was behind the microphone for the Chicks 1990 Southern League championship and the Redbirds 2000 PCL Championship.
"Tom has been the one constant in Memphis baseball for the last 20 years," said Redbirds President and General Manager Dave Chase. "Our fans will miss his ‘Redbirds Win, Redbirds Win!' and his knowledge of baseball history. At the end of each broadcast, everyone knew Tom had a strong passion for the game and the fans. The Redbirds wish Tom and Betsy great success with their new venture; they have earned the opportunity to fulfill a lifetime dream."
In January, Stocker celebrated his 26th anniversary in the Memphis broadcast market after coming to Memphis in 1979 to join the sports staff at WREG-TV. While at Channel 3, he did the play-by-play for Memphis State University football and basketball telecasts.
On the national scene, Stocker has been a play-by-play voice for CBS Radio Sports' coverage of the men's NCAA Basketball Tournament. He has also been the television voice of the NAIA National Football Championships and its Division I Women's Basketball National Championship game. Some of his other national assignments include stints for Superstation WGN-TV in Chicago, Fox Sports Chicago and SportsChannel Florida.
The club did not announce a replacement for Stocker, in today's press release.
The Redbirds recently announced their minor league Spring Training schedule, including 14 games for the Memphis Redbirds from March 17-April 1, 2005. Memphis will play Triple-A clubs from the Marlins, Dodgers and Mets organizations.
St. Louis and Florida share a Spring Training home in Jupiter, Fla., and their minor league affiliates will meet eight times during the spring. The Redbirds also play four games against Norfolk and two against Las Vegas, including a trip to Dodgertown (at Vero Beach) on March 25.
The Redbirds break camp April 4 and head home to Memphis, where they open the season April 7 vs. Oklahoma at AutoZone Park. Full, 20- and 30- game season tickets can be purchased by calling the Redbirds ticket office at (901) 721-6000 or online at memphisredbirds.com.