Tales From the Road 2010: Broadcasting Outside In Columbus

Columbus, OH–In this modern sports era of get-as-much-money-as-you-can-and-give-the-media-the-shaft, the Columbus Clippers have come up with a novel idea.  They decided to not put the press box behind homeplate at Huntington Park.  They split it into two boxes, one down the first base line and the other down the third base line.  However, someone must have come in right at the end and said:  “Hey, what about your radio broadcasters?  Will they be able to see the game?” 

The answer of course, was:  “Who cares?”  However, they did decide to come up with something that they thought would work out just fine.  In Columbus, we broadcast outside from the bar.  That’s right in Columbus; you can get a beer, get drunk, get loud and bother the radio broadcasters.  They are sitting right next to you. 

Before I go further, I need to say that we have option to work inside in the box down the third base line instead of outside with the patrons.  In 2009, I decided to stay inside.  This season, I made the decision to go outside.

Big mistake.

Game one in Columbus was just fine.  As a matter of fact, the ambience was great.  Good crowd noise, exciting game.  But game two and three were different.  To my immediate left is a place for two or three people to sit and enjoy the game.  There is also a ledge for fans to sit their drinks and food on.  They can also bang on that ledge if they wish.  And they usually do.  It is made of cast iron and it makes a heck of a sound.  It also is horrible for broadcasters, like me, who try to use a stick mic on a stand instead of a headset.

Sunday night in Columbus, Grandma and Grandpa Jones decided to come to the game with their two grandchildren.  The little boy, let’s call him Johnny, apparently had tourette’s.  He banged on the ledge all night.  I should have said something, but I didn’t.  My mistake. 

Not as big as a mistake as I made by broadcasting from that location.  The next time in Columbus I will go back inside.  The location from the bar, although good in theory, and a great vantage point, is a horrible idea.  Let them drink the beer and baby sit the kids without me.  I am going to the press box.

Tales From the Road 2010: Broadcasting Outside In Columbus

Columbus, OH–In this modern sports era of get-as-much-money-as-you-can-and-give-the-media-the-shaft, the Columbus Clippers have come up with a novel idea.  They decided to not put the press box behind homeplate at Huntington Park.  They split it into two boxes, one down the first base line and the other down the third base line.  However, someone must have come in right at the end and said:  “Hey, what about your radio broadcasters?  Will they be able to see the game?” 

The answer of course, was:  “Who cares?”  However, they did decide to come up with something that they thought would work out just fine.  In Columbus, we broadcast outside from the bar.  That’s right in Columbus; you can get a beer, get drunk, get loud and bother the radio broadcasters.  They are sitting right next to you. 

Before I go further, I need to say that we have option to work inside in the box down the third base line instead of outside with the patrons.  In 2009, I decided to stay inside.  This season, I made the decision to go outside.

Big mistake.

Game one in Columbus was just fine.  As a matter of fact, the ambience was great.  Good crowd noise, exciting game.  But game two and three were different.  To my immediate left is a place for two or three people to sit and enjoy the game.  There is also a ledge for fans to sit their drinks and food on.  They can also bang on that ledge if they wish.  And they usually do.  It is made of cast iron and it makes a heck of a sound.  It also is horrible for broadcasters, like me, who try to use a stick mic on a stand instead of a headset.

Sunday night in Columbus, Grandma and Grandpa Jones decided to come to the game with their two grandchildren.  The little boy, let’s call him Johnny, apparently had tourette’s.  He banged on the ledge all night.  I should have said something, but I didn’t.  My mistake. 

Not as big as a mistake as I made by broadcasting from that location.  The next time in Columbus I will go back inside.  The location from the bar, although good in theory, and a great vantage point, is a horrible idea.  Let them drink the beer and baby sit the kids without me.  I am going to the press box.

Tales From the Road 2010: My This is a Wonderful Life

NORFOLK, VA–Sitting here in the press box at Harbor Park, looking out to the field, watching the G-Braves take batting practice makes me think how lucky I am to be doing the thing I love the most:  baseball.  But what makes this even more special is being able to broadcast the games in the information age.

My first year of minor league baseball was 1981.  Fresh out of college, looking to begin my journey to the major leagues I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep.  The bus rides (and the bus, itself) were horrible.  The hotel rooms on the road were sub-par, and the press boxes and broadcast booths were in terrible shape.  They quickly made me realize how far away I was from by dream. 

But that all paled in comparison to the lack of information and stats that we had at our disposal.  Basically, we had none.  The South Atlantic League back in 1981 only published stats once a week.  Many times, there was never a roster provided.  And many times, I just made up stuff to talk about (a skill that helped me years later in Pro Wrestling).

I tell you this not to make you feel sorry for poor ole Tony Schiavone.  I tell you this to remind you (and myself) how wonderful it is to be doing G-Braves baseball in this era.  The internet is an incredible tool.  I can find information on just about every player I see with a click of the mouse.  I can keep up with scores from all over in many different leagues.  Back in 1981, the scores were provided on a long yellow ribbon called SPORTSTICKER.  It printed out the inning by inning score and you kind of had to add up the score in your head to see who was winning or losing.

But more than that, I feel that radio is the single finest medium for baseball ever created.  This is a leisurely game.  And the pace works well for our industry.  I do 144 regular season games a year, and each and every day I get such a rush to be able to do the broadcast.  I feel a real connection to the greats before me.  Because what made them great is not that they did the game on television, but that they did the game on radio.  They “described” the action. 

So how can I lose? Mounds of information, great accommodations, and getting PAID to watch a baseball game.  George Bailey was right, this is a wonderful life!    

Tales From the Road 2010: My This is a Wonderful Life

NORFOLK, VA–Sitting here in the press box at Harbor Park, looking out to the field, watching the G-Braves take batting practice makes me think how lucky I am to be doing the thing I love the most:  baseball.  But what makes this even more special is being able to broadcast the games in the information age.

My first year of minor league baseball was 1981.  Fresh out of college, looking to begin my journey to the major leagues I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep.  The bus rides (and the bus, itself) were horrible.  The hotel rooms on the road were sub-par, and the press boxes and broadcast booths were in terrible shape.  They quickly made me realize how far away I was from by dream. 

But that all paled in comparison to the lack of information and stats that we had at our disposal.  Basically, we had none.  The South Atlantic League back in 1981 only published stats once a week.  Many times, there was never a roster provided.  And many times, I just made up stuff to talk about (a skill that helped me years later in Pro Wrestling).

I tell you this not to make you feel sorry for poor ole Tony Schiavone.  I tell you this to remind you (and myself) how wonderful it is to be doing G-Braves baseball in this era.  The internet is an incredible tool.  I can find information on just about every player I see with a click of the mouse.  I can keep up with scores from all over in many different leagues.  Back in 1981, the scores were provided on a long yellow ribbon called SPORTSTICKER.  It printed out the inning by inning score and you kind of had to add up the score in your head to see who was winning or losing.

But more than that, I feel that radio is the single finest medium for baseball ever created.  This is a leisurely game.  And the pace works well for our industry.  I do 144 regular season games a year, and each and every day I get such a rush to be able to do the broadcast.  I feel a real connection to the greats before me.  Because what made them great is not that they did the game on television, but that they did the game on radio.  They “described” the action. 

So how can I lose? Mounds of information, great accommodations, and getting PAID to watch a baseball game.  George Bailey was right, this is a wonderful life!    

Tales From the Road 2010: Indianapolis in May

INDIANAPOLIS, IN-A trip to Victory Field in Indianapolis is one of the real treats in the International League for a broadcaster.  The stadium may be the single best in all of minor league baseball, and you get a chance to meet one of the true greats of baseball broadcasting, Howard Kellman.

 

Notice I said “of baseball broadcasting” and not “of minor league baseball.”  In our profession–baseball announcing–the best not always make it to the major leagues.  Many times, you have to know someone to get there…or, in many cases, be related to someone.  Now that is not a knock on any of the major league broadcasters, that it pure fact.  There are tons, literally tons of minor league broadcasters who can do the job on the major league level but never get the chance.

 

Howard began broadcasting Indians games back in 1974.  1974!  That year the Oakland A’s won their third straight World Championship with Reggie Jackson in right field.  Also that year, Tony Schiavone was a sophomore in high school. 

 

Howard ranks right up there with the true greats in the game, not only because of his ability behind the mic, but also because of his love of the game.  He has written a book entitled:  61 Humorous & Inspiring Lessons I Learned From Baseball.  It is a wonderful book.  Many of the stories from Howard’s journey in baseball made me laugh out loud.  But what drew me to the book was Howard’s love of the game that is evident with every page.  Howard was a Yankees fan growing up and the great homer chase of 1961 between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle had a profound impact on his life and career.  Thus Howard comes up with 61 tales of his experience in this grand game.  61 in honor the year and of the number eventually hit by Maris.

 

Whenever I arrive in Indianapolis, I am always warmly welcomed by Howard.  And I always leave thinking I have not spent enough time hearing his stories or getting to know him more.

 

To be a minor league baseball announcer for as long as Howard Kellman, you have to love the game.  And he does.  That is why he still does it.  And does it better than most.  The book is available on Amazon and has a foreword from the late baseball broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell. 

 

I’ve always loved Harwell.  And the fact that Judd and I do the games now of a team that was first the Atlanta Crackers, gives us a special connection to Harwell.  Since he was the first play by play broadcaster of the team back in the 40’s on WSB Radio. 

 

However, I have to wonder if Harwell would have stayed with the game as long as he did if his journey would have kept him in the minors?

 

Howard Kellman is a true baseball legend.  And there are so few left.

 

 

Tales From the Road 2010: Indianapolis in May

INDIANAPOLIS, IN-A trip to Victory Field in Indianapolis is one of the real treats in the International League for a broadcaster.  The stadium may be the single best in all of minor league baseball, and you get a chance to meet one of the true greats of baseball broadcasting, Howard Kellman.

Notice I said “of baseball broadcasting” and not “of minor league baseball.”  In our profession–baseball announcing–the best not always make it to the major leagues.  Many times, you have to know someone to get there…or, in many cases, be related to someone.  Now that is not a knock on any of the major league broadcasters, that it pure fact.  There are tons, literally tons of minor league broadcasters who can do the job on the major league level but never get the chance.

Howard began broadcasting Indians games back in 1974.  1974!  That year the Oakland A’s won their third straight World Championship with Reggie Jackson in right field.  Also that year, Tony Schiavone was a sophomore in high school. 

Howard ranks right up there with the true greats in the game, not only because of his ability behind the mic, but also because of his love of the game.  He has written a book entitled:  61 Humorous & Inspiring Lessons I Learned From Baseball.  It is a wonderful book.  Many of the stories from Howard’s journey in baseball made me laugh out loud.  But what drew me to the book was Howard’s love of the game that is evident with every page.  Howard was a Yankees fan growing up and the great homer chase of 1961 between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle had a profound impact on his life and career.  Thus Howard comes up with 61 tales of his experience in this grand game.  61 in honor the year and of the number eventually hit by Maris.

Whenever I arrive in Indianapolis, I am always warmly welcomed by Howard.  And I always leave thinking I have not spent enough time hearing his stories or getting to know him more.

To be a minor league baseball announcer for as long as Howard Kellman, you have to love the game.  And he does.  That is why he still does it.  And does it better than most.  The book is available on Amazon and has a foreword from the late baseball broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell. 

I’ve always loved Harwell.  And the fact that Judd and I do the games now of a team that was first the Atlanta Crackers, gives us a special connection to Harwell.  Since he was the first play by play broadcaster of the team back in the 40’s on WSB Radio. 

However, I have to wonder if Harwell would have stayed with the game as long as he did if his journey would have kept him in the minors?

Howard Kellman is a true baseball legend.  And there are so few left.

Tales of the Road 2010: Strasburg, Snow and Syracuse

PAWTUCKET, RI-Thanks to global warming, what turned out to be a great weekend for yours truly turned ugly in a hurry.  I have only one thing to say:  Al Gore can take a hike.

Not to bore you with person plights, but this past weekend in Syracuse was one of those rare moments in my life where my personal commitments crossover with my baseball commitments.

One of my sons, Jon Michael was set to graduate from UGA on Saturday.  I was in Syracuse.  Thanks to Judd, I was able to do both.  I flew Judd to Syracuse Friday so he could do the game Saturday.  I flew back to Georgia Saturday morning, enjoyed the day in Athens, and then flew back to Syracuse Sunday morning.  Everything was going according to plan, until…

It SNOWED in Syracuse.

The game Saturday afternoon in Syracuse went only four innings and then was rained out.  Sunday’s game, scheduled for a 2:00 p.m. first pitch, was snowed out.  It was called early.  The plan was for Judd to start the Sunday broadcast, I was to arrive and he would leave to return home as I finish up.  However, thanks to the SNOW—IN FREAKING MAY—and the game being called early, the team left on the bus for Pawtucket…early.  So by the time I arrived in Syracuse, they were long gone.  So, a rental car and 175 bucks later I pull into Pawtucket ready for the broadcast on Monday.  Oh well…

Anyway, while in Syracuse I did get to see number one draft pick Stephen Strasburg pitch.  He basically one hit the G-Braves Friday night.  Is he as advertised?  Oh, yeah.  He’s great.  But we’ll see how he does against major league hitting.

I also got a chance to see my good buddy, Jason Benetti.  He’s the play by play voice of the Syracuse Chiefs.  He’s a very talented guy who graduated from Syracuse.  And like many of the Syracuse University grads in our business, he does not have a sense of entitlement.  Jason also works in the offseason as the play by play guy for High Point University basketball and also can be heard as the studio host on the Georgia Bulldogs football broadcasts from ISP. 

It was great seeing Jason.  Good being able to see Strasburg pitch.  But they can keep Syracuse and the cold weather in May.