The best moment of the Giants' season so far didn't happen between the lines. It came Saturday night, when Duane Kuiper surprised broadcast partner Mike Krukow after more than six weeks away because of chemotherapy treatments.
Krukow had a stunned look on his face as Kuiper walked back into the booth they have shared for just about every game in Oracle Park's history. After a quick hug, Krukow yelled, "I got my boy back!"
Kuiper had wanted to get back to call other games in recent weeks, and when he was finally set to return he shared the news with a very small circle of family members and coworkers. On Thursday's "Giants Talk" podcast, he explained why he needed it to be a surprise with Krukow.
"I'm sure you guys have somebody in your life where it's impossible to keep a secret from them and it's impossible to have them keep a secret if you ask them to -- and Mike falls into that category of both," he said. "One, he has a hard time keeping a secret, and two, because he has so many contacts and people that are calling him or texting him, it was really hard to keep this one from him."
Kuiper told Dave Flemming and Jon Miller -- who have filled in with play-by-play on the TV broadcast -- as well as his brother, Jeff Kuiper, who produces NBC Sports Bay Area's broadcasts, and KNBR producer Darren Chan. He thought it was going to be impossible to keep his return from Krukow, but he was able to surprise his partner and was thrilled that a camera in the booth caught the whole thing.
"I wanted his reaction," Kuiper said. "We got his reaction, and it's really what I wanted people to see -- a little bit of our relationship and how far it goes back and how much we do mean to each other."
Kuiper is still undergoing chemo but hopes to be back in the booth soon. He said he was initially concerned that he might wear down during the broadcast, but everything went smoothly. Well, almost everything.
The Giants were blown out 10-2 that night and had such a rough one that outfielder Mike Tauchman ended up on the mound in the ninth inning.
"I got a number of texts from friends, from people that were so apologetic: 'Oh my gosh, it's too bad that you had that game to come back to.' The whole point was that it didn't matter to me what kind of a game it was," Kuiper said. "It was just the fact that I was sitting in the broadcast booth, I had a chance to call a home run, and then of course the very next day I had a chance to call four, which kind of made up for the sucky game that was happening on Saturday.
"It was going to be one of those things where one of those two games wasn't going to be very good and it just happened to be the first one, but it was a great weekend."