James Denton may be an actor by trade, but if you put him in a broadcast booth at a Major League Baseball stadium and give him a mic, you start to wonder if maybe he has announcing in his future.
Denton, a Los Angeles resident and Dodger fan best known for his role as plumber Mike Delfino on the hit TV series "Desperate Housewives," is a regular at the All-Star Game as both a participant in the Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and as a die-hard baseball fan. His loyalties appear to rest with the Dodgers, although he's been linked to the Red Sox and Astros in the past in terms of where he directs his fandom.
Denton paired up with MLB.com's Jeremy Brisiel in the booth at the All-Star Game in Kansas City in July to call the State Farm Home Run Derby for a couple of rounds. Given his regular presence at many of MLB's crown-jewel events, it was only fitting that Denton would be a featured guest for an installment of "Express Written Consent," where the goal is to bring nontraditional broadcasters into the booth, to have a go at the pastime that's evolved alongside the national pastime: calling the game.
After smoothly giving his analysis of several Derby participants and displaying a keen knowledge of their tendencies and backgrounds, he was asked by Brisiel, point blank, if he'd ever considered announcing full-time.
"I've thought about it, like every fan has," he said. "It takes a lot of, not just skill, but a lot of knowledge. You have to have that store house of knowledge, like Vin Scully does."
Turns out, Denton does have some broadcasting experience. He started in radio long ago, doing high school football and basketball.
"It was AM radio, doing high school sports," he said. "I just loved it. But I was starving to death. Then I stumbled in L.A."
Playing professional baseball was never in the cards for Denton, and perhaps announcing isn't either. But he does have his hand in the game on one level: he is part of the owners group of the Orange County Flyers, an independent team in Fullerton, Calif.
As most Dodgers fans tend to do, Denton waxed poetic on everyone's favorite broadcaster, the incomparable Scully.
"You think about that guy calling Dodger games eight years before they moved to L.A.," Denton marveled.
His favorite part about Scully? No schtick.
"Some acts get tired," Denton said. "The fact that Vin doesn't have a home run call, he doesn't have any cute sayings. It's just timeless."
As is Scully's love for the game. Denton spotted him in the booth during the seventh-inning stretch, singing happily to himself. Not for fanfare, not with the cameras rolling. Just whistling himself a familiar tune between innings.
"Nobody was watching," Denton said. "It wasn't a Harry Caray moment. He was just sitting there, singing along, and after it was over, he was so happy. There was just so much joy. You can tell he loves it."
Meanwhile, back to the Derby. Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez came to the plate, and Denton, thinking about the sometimes inflated numbers that come out of Denver's Coors Field, turned to Brisiel and asked, "Which one of us is going to point out his home/road splits?"
A moment later, Gonzalez launched one near the Kauffman Stadium fountains in the outfield.
"Well you know what," Denton said. "We're not at Coors Field tonight. And he just went yard."