‘I Don’t Like Downtime’: Tony Schiavone Talks Baseball, Bischoff & Broadcasting (Exclusive)

What Happened When‘s Tony Schiavone had an exclusive conversation with WrestleZone’s Dominic DeAngelo on Tuesday before he, Conrad Thompson and his old WCW boss Eric Bischoff are set to take the stage at Chicago’s C2E2 event this Friday. The trio will convene for a What Happened When / 83 Weeks mash-up to discuss the rise to demise of WCW and much more in the world of wrestling.

In this first part of the interview, Tony talks about the upcoming event, how staying busy is what gives him energy, how he became a fan of multiple baseball teams & his venture into baseball broadcasting. Quotes from the first part of the interview are below with more transcriptions to follow:

Tony Schiavone on getting some downtime once in awhile:

Yeah, to be honest with you Dominic, I don’t like downtime. Lois can tell you that especially during college football season because we are so busy during the week with interviews with the coach and I also do some work for a radio station here in Atlanta that when Sunday comes which is really my one-off during the week, that I’m miserable. I don’t want to sit around and watch football, and so I really don’t like the downtime, but I’m enjoying it right now to be honest with you, because basketball just ended.

On what his MLB team was growing up:

So I can remember back in 1969 that the first pack of baseball cards that I opened up the first card that I saw was a Rick Monday Oakland A’s card and I became an Oakland A’s fan. Isn’t that odd? Mountains of Virginia all the way across the country to Oakland. So I became an Oakland A’s fan and of course, my dad took me to see the Senators play and they played the Oakland A’s and so I became an Oakland A’s fan and a big Reggie Jackson fan and they won the three world series in the seventies. So I was a real big fan of Oakland during the seventies and then in ’76 Reggie went to Baltimore and in ’77 Reggie went to the Yankees, became a Yankees fan in 1977, that’s when I was in college and pretty much stayed a Yankees fan all the way until I started working with the Braves. I still like the Yankees, but obviously now that I’m with the Braves, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys who used to play for the team, a lot of the guys that used to play for us in Triple-A now are in the big leagues and [Braves manager] Brian Snitker’s a friend so I’m obviously a big Braves’ guy now, but still love the Yankees, still love the Oakland A’s, those are my teams.

On the difference between announcing for baseball and announcing for wrestling:

It’s never been difficult to me because baseball is a very relaxing game. There’s no reason to be over-the-top like we do in wrestling for a ground ball to short, or a fly ball to center field, but when the situation calls for it then you have to be exciting and oddly enough, when I graduated in college in 1980 and I applied for jobs. I had a job, I had a full-time job working for a radio station as soon as I finished college. This was in the summertime of 1980, but I wanted to do baseball so I knew all the baseball teams that had broadcasting that were on the radio. So I sent my tape out and I got hired by the Greensboro team and when I got hired by the Greensboro team, they told me that the reason that they hired me was because of how exciting I sounded on the radio.

On taking the stage with Conrad Thompson and Eric Bischoff this Friday at C2E2:

Well I have to think about that, it’s been quite a while, but I can tell you that there’s a part of me Dominic, that’s very apprehensive about this just because of the way WCW ended and the way that there’s a lot of people that blame me for a lot of stuff which a lot of times when you sit down and you think about it, you think, “Well, if they blame me for a lot of stuff that happened, then maybe I had quite an impact on it. Thank you very much.” He was a fine boss and a great leader, but he had a volatile temper. I’ve heard some things since then that he said. I mean there was a promo that was done that’s on social media now that first thing he said out of his mouth, he said, “I would have fired Tony Schiavone, but…” and I’m thinking, “Would have fired me? What the hell, man? What do you mean ‘would have fired me?’ Hell, you’re the one that got fired, not me.” And I stuck around so I’m looking forward to it, but I’m apprehensive. I’m not going to sit there with him and to be honest with you, take a lot of blame or a lot of B.S. about what went on. He was the boss, he has to own up to it. So we’ll see how it all comes out. But I love working with Conrad. I think that we’ve developed quite a friendship.

It’ll be very interesting to see exactly his [Bischoff’s] take on how things went down and “What Happened When” (if I could use that term, little self-promotion there) and why in the world he didn’t salvage WCW like we all thought he was going to because we thought, when it was being sold, everybody thought that Eric was going to buy it and we thought we would go on and do some work. Eric and I had kind of talked on the phone about plans moving forward. Next thing you know we’re sold to Vince McMahon and he’s out. So I’d like to know the story behind that and I’d like to know the story behind why all of us who worked so hard behind the scenes got left out to dry.

On how the unpredictability element can add to the excitement of events like WHW & 83 Weeks meeting up:

Well, you know I’m not a confrontational person, but I know he can be. So let’s just see exactly what his mood is that day and how he handles himself. Listen I can tell you right now, Dominic, I’m not going to back down. I’m not going to back down at all. I’m going to tell everybody exactly what I think and let’s see how it all pans out.

Plenty more to come from this candid conversation with Tony, including discussions about Terry Funk, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong, Chris Jericho, AEW and much, much more.