It would be a shame if this were indeed the end of The Sports Hub’s ‘Toucher and Rich’


In the past, Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb have negotiated their contracts in unison. That was not the case this time.

Cha-Chi Loprete
Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb have worked together to massive success in the Boston market since arriving from Atlanta in 2006.

The “Toucher and Rich” program operated as business as usual Thursday, the morning after 98.5 The Sports Hub announced that Fred Toucher had signed a contract extension in a 205-word press release that never once mentioned co-host Rich Shertenlieb or referenced the show by name.

The radio silence for four hours on the status and future of the program was not a total surprise. While Toucher and Shertenlieb, who have worked together to massive success in the Boston market since arriving from Atlanta in 2006, have often discussed personal matters on the air, the current situation has brought about a different kind of tension that has the future of the ratings-dominating program hanging in the balance.

In the past, Toucher and Shertenlieb have negotiated their contracts in unison. That was not the case this time. Both deals were due to expire at the end of the year, but now Toucher — who was cited in the press release as “a foundational member of the launch of the station,” with his “tenure” being mentioned without reference to his co-host throughout the entire time — has a deal.

Shertenlieb does not, and while he has not responded to requests for comment, he has made cryptic, unexplained moves, including changing “Toucher and Rich” accounts on social media channels to his own name. His decision to do that has frustrated management at The Sports Hub and parent company Beasley Media.

Toucher and Shertenlieb’s disagreements over the past year — many stemming from Toucher’s health and personal issues — are well documented and require no rehash here for a second time this past week.

The bottom line is that they are distinctly skilled talents who bring out the best in each other.

It would be a shame for their program, which deploys humor better than any other sports show in the market and is one of the rare few that doesn’t intentionally agitate its audience, to come to an end.

Perhaps everyone involved will recognize that before the end of the year. But right now, it sure feels like the ending has already been decided.

One more from Gorman

Wrote about the advent of Mike Gorman’s 42nd and final season on Celtics broadcasts in this space last week, but managed to do so without sharing one story about his longtime broadcast partner and friend, Tommy Heinsohn. So let’s rectify that.

“The best thing that’s happened in my career is getting to work with Tommy,” said Gorman, who proceeded to explain how they got paired together. Gorman was working as a sports anchor at WPRI and the channel had recently added some Providence College basketball games. Gorman was set to handle the play by play, but the first broadcast was coming up against Holy Cross and he didn’t have an analyst.

“I said to my boss, ‘Why don’t we get Tommy Heinsohn?’ ” said Gorman. “This is the beauty of the old days. I called the general Boston Garden number and a woman answers the phone and she goes, ‘Boston Garden, Boston Celtics, can I help you?’ I said, ‘Yep, Tom Heinsohn, please.’ She said, ‘One moment.’ Tom picked up, we agreed to meet somewhere in Walpole, and over the course of dinner he sold me an insurance policy and agreed to call the Providence games.”

When PRISM — one of a few forefathers to NBC Sports Boston — launched before the 1981-82 season, Heinsohn was one of the cable channel’s first hires. “A bunch of people from the Boston marketplace all were kind of hoping they’d be picked for the play-by-play job,” said Gorman. “Tommy had a meeting about the options. I was told by someone that he said, ‘I work with this guy down in Rhode Island. He’s good. You gotta give him a shot.’ That’s how it began.”

During the broadcast of the Celtics opener Wednesday and in conversation, Gorman has reminisced about his time calling Big East games during the conference’s heyday for ESPN. His frequent analyst was the affable Bill Raftery, who also had his own connection to Heinsohn.

“Raf had broken most of Tommy’s scoring records in New Jersey high school ball,” said Gorman with a laugh. “So they still existed as far as Tom was concerned.”

Castiglione again a finalist

Joe Castiglione, the radio play-by-play voice of the Red Sox since 1983, is one of 10 finalists for the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence. Castiglione has been a finalist three previous times (2010, ‘14, ‘23), with this counting as a 2024 nomination since the induction ceremony is in the summer.

If Castiglione is not the selection,he should have an opportunity again in 2025 and ‘26. The Hall of Fame determines the Frick Award winner in cycles of eligibility.

This is the second of four consecutive years in which the winner is chosen from a composite ballot of national and local broadcasters whose careers extended into or began after the start of the wild-card era in 1994.

In 2027, broadcasters whose careers concluded before the wild-card era will be considered, which would be an excellent time to finally honor Ned Martin.