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Posts Tagged ‘Yakima Bears’

I’d just gotten back to my car after one of my first deliveries of the day when my phone rang. It was the Sports Information Director at The College of St. Rose, a Division II school in Albany. Thankfully, I’d already put on my seat belt because I almost leapt out of my chair. A few days prior, I’d heard that St. Rose’s basketball broadcaster accepted a broadcasting gig elsewhere, so I called the athletic director and left a voicemail. The college basketball season was starting soon, and I figured St. Rose had already pegged someone to do their games. There’s no harm in calling them, I reasoned, because I might get lucky.

And get lucky I did. By the time the SID called, St. Rose’s first game was a week and a half away. It was a beautiful fall Saturday in Binghamton, where I’d wrapped up my first season as the broadcaster for the Binghamton Mets two months prior. Could you overnight your résumé and demo CD to us on Monday? the SID asked. Of course I can! Anything would be better than using copious amounts of Febreze in an attempt to eradicate the sickening stale pizza smell that permeated my car after every one of my delivery shifts. The Binghamton Mets hired me seasonally, so I needed to find a way to make money from Labor Day until April. In mid-September, I took a job delivering pizza, which paid well, but was the definition of tedious.

A couple of days after overnighting my stuff to St. Rose, I made the two-hour drive to Albany for an interview. St. Rose hired me on a Sunday night. Their first game was Tuesday. Like many Division II schools, St. Rose played men’s and women’s basketball doubleheaders, with the women’s game starting at 5 pm – or 1 pm for afternoon contests – followed by the men’s game. I’d also agreed to call 1-2 high school basketball games a week for a small radio station in Sidney, a rural town 45 minutes northeast of Binghamton. That winter, I became intimately familiar with Interstate 88, which runs through Sidney and terminates in Albany. The radio station in Sidney covered five area high schools and they let me make my own schedule, which dovetailed nicely with St. Rose’s; the college games were usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays and the high school games were Tuesdays and Fridays. If St. Rose had road games, I would hop on the team bus once I got to Albany and travel another 2-4 hours with the teams, call two basketball games, get back on the bus for another 2-4 hours and then drive the two hours back to Binghamton in the wee hours of the morning. Upstate New York winters can be pretty harsh but, amazingly, I only had to drive through one snowstorm that season. All for $200 and a chance to call my second-favorite sport, after baseball. It’s a good thing I love hoops, because I ended up calling 75 basketball games that winter. My car died a few months later.

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“What do you do in the off-season?” is one of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked in my baseball broadcasting career. The baseball season is a grind; games every day for 5-7 months, depending on whether you’re in the Majors or minors and whether or not you call spring training action. Every baseball broadcaster needs a break after a season but, for many, that break is very short, if there’s a break at all. Seasonal employment, like I had with the Binghamton Mets, was the rule for most of my baseball broadcasting career. As a result, I had to find employment at the conclusion of each baseball season.

My first baseball off-season was in Yakima, Washington after calling games for the Yakima Bears of the short-season Northwest League. I hung around Central Washington to work as an account executive for the Yakima Sun Kings, a minor league basketball team that played in the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association. And I was miserable. For one, I’d hoped to land a job calling football and/or basketball, but I wasn’t as aggressive when it came to pursuing those opportunities as I should’ve been. And, I realized quickly I wasn’t cut out to be an account executive. It didn’t help that the degree of difficulty selling the Sun Kings for a novice account executive was high. The Sun Kings, like the rest of the CBA, folded two years prior before being reborn the previous year. Yakima sat out the first season of the new CBA before returning under new ownership when I came aboard. There were many people who lost money with the old Sun Kings and many of those people took out their frustrations on me. Plus, as I mentioned, I wasn’t cut out to be an account executive; cold-calling and going in and out of businesses to persuade people to spend money with the team just wasn’t my thing (It probably doesn’t help that I’m not a big fan of salespeople selling me things unsolicited. I’m the guy who, when he’s in the store or on the showroom floor, politely declines assistance and grimaces at salespeople who come at him with their huge smiles and mindless small talk. If I need you, I’ll find you. Otherwise, leave me alone). Nearly every day I worked for the Sun Kings, I woke up with a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, dreading spending another day trying to convince people to buy courtside signs and group tickets. I contemplated quitting daily and, on one occasion, cleaned out my desk in anticipation of walking before changing my mind. Stick it out until you get another job, I told myself.

You can imagine my relief when, after five months of misery, I was hired by a radio station group in Kalamazoo, Michigan as the voice of the Kalamazoo Kings of the independent Frontier League. I didn’t have to start my new job for another two months, but I was so eager to rid myself of my account executive existence that I loaded up my car and drove cross-country to New York City, my hometown, as quickly as I could. I was much happier back home, where I spent two months teaching SAT prep courses on Long Island before heading to Michigan. That awful feeling in the pit of my stomach disappeared and hasn’t returned since. After initially being hired in Kalamazoo just for baseball season, I wound up getting a full-time position, ending my need to scramble for off-season employment. Instead, I slid right into radio news reporting and anchoring and broadcasting high school and Division III college football and basketball once the Kings’ season drew to a close.

You would think I would’ve learned from my Yakima experience when I left Kalamazoo after two years for the seasonal position with the Binghamton Mets. However, I waited until August to seek off-season work and found myself scrambling to find something with little time left, which is how I ended up handing people boxes filled with warm pizza for two months. The following off-season, I planned on returning to The College of St. Rose, but I was able to land the women’s basketball play-by-play job at Binghamton University, which was Division I, as opposed to Division II, and a 15-minute drive from my home, as opposed to a two-hour drive. Needless to say, the switch was a no-brainer. That off-season, I also got back into officiating basketball, which I’d done in Yakima, and I started substitute teaching. I wasn’t exactly living like a king, but I did okay for a single guy with few obligations.

After four years in Binghamton, I was hired by the Kansas City Royals’ flagship radio station to be their Royals reporter and pre- and post-game show host, the latter show featuring phone calls from fans. Once again, I was a seasonal employee but I’d learned from my earlier follies. In the middle of the summer, I contacted every school within a three-hour drive of Kansas City that sponsored intercollegiate athletics and let them know I was available to call basketball games if the need arose. The most serious inquiry I received was from the University of Nebraska Omaha, a Division II school three hours away. Nebraska Omaha needed someone to broadcast their men’s and women’s basketball doubleheaders because their previous broadcaster recently accepted a position that made it difficult for him to call all of the games. However, Nebraska Omaha’s SID hedged on completely handing the reins to me, saying he could guarantee me all of the road broadcasts, but nothing else. Since I wisely left the door open with Binghamton University when I departed for Kansas City, I passed on Nebraska Omaha’s offer and returned to Binghamton to call women’s basketball that fall and winter before going back to Kansas City in the spring. The following off-season, Nebraska Omaha offered me their full-time basketball broadcasting position. I gladly accepted, calling their games for three seasons, which included the first two years of their transition to Division I. As a matter of fact, I was finally hired full-time by the Royals’ flagship station my final year calling Nebraska Omaha’s games, but I was able to make the schedules work, just like I did with my St. Rose and high school basketball schedules in Binghamton many years prior.

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The day I agreed to terms with the Houston Astros to be their radio broadcaster, I no longer had to seek employment during the baseball off-season. The Astros compensate me year-round, which means seven months of baseball followed by five months of inactivity, if I so choose. For the first time in my life, I don’t have to call other sports, or deliver pizza, or substitute teach, in the fall and winter. I would like to call basketball and/or football again, but I won’t starve if I don’t. In short, I’m blessed. And, after years of hustling for work once baseball season ended, not a day goes by in the off-season when I don’t think about how fortunate I am.

Years ago, I watched an interview of Bill Gates, one of the founders of Microsoft, where he mentioned that, every few months or so, he takes a “reading vacation”; he’ll hole up in some remote locale for a couple of weeks and read all of the books he hasn’t been able to get to. My off-season these days isn’t exactly a reading vacation, but I have more time for books. I finally read Wherever I Wind Up, the autobiography of Toronto Blue Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey, which was outstanding. I just finished Bleeding Orange, the new autobiography authored by Jim Boeheim, longtime basketball coach at Syracuse University, my alma mater. I recently ordered You Can’t Make This Up, the new autobiography of legendary broadcaster Al Michaels. As you can probably tell, I love non-fiction in general and autobiographies in particular. However, the best book I’ve read this off-season was Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s outstanding novel that’s been turned into a movie. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but there’s no way it can captivate as well as the book, but isn’t that always the case?

When the weather cooperates, I try to bike at least 20 miles a day; I bike during the season, but I can get in more reps when there aren’t any games. I also like going out for lunch; since I spend so much time at home alone during the day, it’s nice to be around other people, even if I’m not communicating with them. I also get to reacquaint myself with my four-year-old daughter, time I really treasure since we don’t get to spend copious amounts of time together during the season. Once November and December arrive, I start prepping for the upcoming baseball season. By beginning my prep early in the off-season, I can work gradually all winter and have a lot of work done before spring training begins, giving me an opportunity to focus on other things and preventing me from being burned out once it’s time to call games.

More than anything, I use the off-season to decompress and to recharge my batteries. By the time I leave for spring training, I’m excited about a new season and ready to get to work. And I’m thankful for all of the work that I’ve done and jobs that I’ve had – in baseball, broadcasting and otherwise – that have helped me get to this point.

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My first play-by-play gig was as the voice of the Yakima Bears, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks in the short-season Northwest League. The Bears played 76 games in 80 days. Exactly 75 of those 76 games were played at night. As a first-time broadcaster, the season was a grind, but I loved the challenge and looked at every day as an opportunity to improve. Not a day went by in which I wasn’t tweaking some aspect of my preparation or listening to a half-inning of my work or experimenting with different things on the air. My experience with the Bears wouldn’t have been ideal for every first-time broadcaster – some would prefer a more structured environment working with an established broadcaster – but it was perfect for me and, by the end of the season, I felt like I’d developed a solid foundation even though I knew there was still a lot of room for improvement.

Before the season began, I’d come up with several phrases and expressions I planned on using on the air; the only one I remember is “forrrrrr-get it!” for a home run. Once I got on the air, I found myself rarely using those scripted phrases and, when I did, they were usually forced; I found that my best home run calls were spontaneous reactions to what I was seeing. It also took me a while to learn how to show the proper level of excitement on certain plays; I’ve always been very low-key and have never been much of a shouter or yeller. As the season progressed, I learned how to raise my voice to convey what I felt was the appropriate amount of excitement. That summer, I learned the most important tenet of play-by-play broadcasting:

Be yourself.

Several months ago, I defended the play-by-play style of New York Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling, who does exactly what I realized I couldn’t do: use pre-planned phrases. However, that works for Sterling and I think he truly is being himself. When I first heard Gus Johnson call college basketball games on CBS, I didn’t like him; he was very excitable and emotive and I thought he was trying too hard. But, now I’m one of Johnson’s biggest fans; over time I realized that Johnson’s unique, high-energy style matched his personality and that he was being himself. Both Sterling and Johnson are polarizing figures who most fans either love or hate with no in-between, but there’s no doubt in my mind both broadcasters are being themselves. Every play-by-play broadcaster needs to be prepared and descriptive but, beyond that, there are no hard and fast rules for having a play-by-play style that’s well received and will lead to a fulfilling career. Play-by-play is like writing: it’s important to learn the proper mechanics, but success will be elusive until you find your voice. Not to mention, “success” is very subjective and means different things to different people; whether it be working at the network level, calling your alma mater’s basketball and football games or serving as the long-time voice of a minor league team. And, just like one’s style, no one truly knows what will define success for them until they’ve been in the business for a few years.

I’m not sure when over the last decade I realized I’d figured out what “being myself” meant for me, probably because there wasn’t an Aha! moment; it was a gradual process achieved only after gaining self-awareness and lots of experience. And, I don’t even know how to describe what my style is. But, I know it when I hear it. When I listen to audio of games I’ve called, I cringe every time I hear a bad description, a misused word or a mangled phrase. I cringe most when I don’t sound like myself, when I can tell I’m trying too hard because I’m trying to be perfect or because I’m thinking too much about saying something that may sound good on a demo CD rather than focusing on describing what I’m seeing. And, if I don’t think I sound like myself, the listener will eventually pick up on that lack of authenticity as well.

Every now and then, a novice play-by-play broadcaster will e-mail me a clip of his or her play-by-play to critique. I try to help those broadcasters whenever I can; I know what it’s like to feel like you’re calling games in a vacuum, wondering if you’re any good and if you’re getting better. Also, there aren’t very many people who “teach” play-by-play, so critiques combined with carefully studying your work and the work of others is really the only way to learn how to effectively call a game. Most of the broadcasters who e-mail me their play-by-play need more reps and instruction and are still learning the basics of the craft, which is where every broadcaster should start. And, as you get more proficient with the basics of description and preparation, a style will emerge; to be as good as you can be, that style can’t be forced and has to emerge organically. Forcing one’s play-by-play style is similar to lying; one leads to more and, before you know it, the lines between truth and fiction are blurred and you don’t even know who the real you is anymore.

So, when I hear broadcasters screaming at the top of their lungs or unnaturally distorting their voice to convey excitement or using catch phrases for nearly every play or trying to make their voice sound deeper or more authoritative than it actually is, I wonder if they’re trying too hard, a question only the broadcaster can answer accurately (and an accurate answer comes only with the proper level of self awareness). But, over time, listeners figure out who’s being true to themselves and who isn’t. As with athletes, the careers of play-by-play broadcasters top out at different levels depending on a variety of factors. But, no broadcaster who isn’t true to himself or herself will go very far.

If you’re a play-by-play broadcaster trying to move up in the business, someone who’s trying to figure out what your next move will be, remember to always be yourself and to seek honest and critical assessments of your work. You may not go very far in broadcasting – a business that depends a lot on subjectivity and on being in the right place at the right time – but you will find your voice.

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My first job out of college was as a sports reporter for the New York City bureau of the Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper based in Tokyo. They hired me a month after I graduated and I started working two months after graduation, making me among the first of my fellow graduates to be gainfully employed. I assisted the bureau’s sportswriter, who was Japanese (each of the bureau’s Japanese journalists had an American assistant), allowing me to cover the World Series, Super Bowl, US Open and several other significant sporting events. They paid me about $40,000 over the 11 months I worked there, which seemed like a bonanza to a 22-year-old who had few expenses and still lived at home.

Perhaps my most memorable day on the job came in mid December, when the bureau’s accountant walked over to my desk and handed me an envelope.

“Robert,” he said in halting English. “Bonus.”

The envelope contained my Christmas bonus check, which was more than $1,200, equivalent to what I made bi-weekly. I vaguely remembered a mention of a “holiday bonus” during my job interview, but I had no idea what that meant. Now, I knew. This working-for-a-living thing is great! I thought to myself. You get a bonus just because it’s the holidays? How neat is that!

The following December, I was in Yakima, Washington, working as an account executive for the Yakima Sun Kings of the minor-league Continental Basketball Association. I was miserable, not because I’d taken a significant pay cut when I chose to leave the Yomiuri Shimbun the previous June, but became I had a job I despised and I’d just found out the Yakima Bears, the minor league baseball team I did radio play-by-play for the previous summer, decided not to bring me back the following season. I’d taken the job with the Sun Kings so I could stay in Yakima and call games for the Bears the following season, a plan that had gone up in smoke. I didn’t get a Christmas bonus from the Sun Kings, but I wasn’t expecting one either. The team was losing a lot of money; it got so bad that one of my Sun Kings paychecks almost bounced, my bank withholding the funds a few extra days to ensure the money was there.

I was in much better spirits the following winter. Now, I was in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I did sports play-by-play and news anchoring and reporting for Fairfield Broadcasting, a local company that owned four radio stations in town. We had an event that was billed as a holiday party, but it was more like a holiday luncheon, since it was held during the day in a conference room. Nevertheless, this event was eagerly anticipated, because the festivities included Fairfield’s 63-year-old company president handing out everyone’s Christmas bonus checks – which amounted to $50 for every year one was with the company – along with a large jar of mixed nuts from one of our sponsors (those jars of nuts became fodder for many jokes between me and my Fairfield co-workers the rest of the year). I picked up another Christmas bonus check – and another jar of nuts – from Fairfield the following December.

After getting Christmas bonuses in three of my first four years as a working man, one could understand if I got used to such bonuses and if I started to expect them. But, it’s a good thing I didn’t grow accustomed because I haven’t gotten a Christmas bonus since. Part of the reason for the lack of a bonus has been the career choices I’ve made; since receiving my last Christmas bonus in 2004, I’ve worked several seasonal, freelance and part-time positions, most of them in broadcasting, and those type of positions almost never offer the possibility of a bonus. However, several of my friends with full-time employment have also lamented the elimination or lack of Christmas bonuses. Some employers give their employees gift cards or inexpensive trinkets instead, since those things are cheaper than cash bonuses. Of course, employers rarely give long-time employees gold watches when they retire anymore either, something that was once a common occurrence. It also used to be a common for employees to stay with the same company for decades, clocking in at the same place for most, if not all, of their working lives.

Christmas bonuses were an outgrowth of the attitude many companies once had that their employees needed to be treated like valuable commodities. But now, jobs are easily outsourced to other states or countries. Improvements in technology mean jobs that once required an army of people now require a handful. Labor unions, which many studies show raise the wages and working conditions of non-union and union workers alike, don’t have the numbers or impact they once did. Not to mention, a recession followed by a slow recovery has flooded the job market with an abundance of qualified – and overqualified – job seekers in many lines of work. As a result, employers now see employees as expendable, easily replaced and as a means to an end.

Nowadays, if a company offers a bonus, it’s performance based, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, what better way to show an employee you appreciate his or her efforts than with cash? In this day and age, with a hypercompetitive job market, fewer people are going to get paid simply for sticking around since simply sticking around is no longer enough. People used to judge their jobs and careers by how much their employer showed their appreciation for their efforts; loving what you did for a living and where you worked was secondary. Nowadays, you better love what you do and where you work because employers are much less likely to show you or tell you how much they value your contributions.

My daughter is 18 months old. There’s a very good chance she will never get a Christmas bonus. Years from now, I’ll probably be waxing poetic to her about the three Christmas bonuses I received, just like previous generations have told me about their gold watches, employer-financed homes and generous pensions. I feel it’s our generation’s job to prepare our children for the new realities of a workforce that will be even more streamlined, mobile and technology-dependent by the time they’re adults; if they want more money, they’ll need to earn it with their on-the-job performance. My daughter will know not to expect a Christmas bonus. She may get a jar of nuts, but only if she’s lucky.

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Once I decided I wanted to be a play-by-play broadcaster, I knew I wanted to call baseball games, and I knew that meant starting out in the minor leagues. So, during my junior year at Syracuse University, I sent my résumé and cover letter to a handful of short-season teams – short-season since their 76-game, June-to-Labor Day schedule meshed with my summer break from college. I wound up getting hired as an intern by the Queens Kings, a short-season minor league team the New York Mets had just purchased and moved to Queens, New York with the intent of moving them to Brooklyn the following year, once a stadium had been built. The Kings played their lone season as a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate (their player development contract with the Blue Jays had yet to expire) in a ballpark the Mets renovated on the campus of St. John’s University, less than seven miles from Shea Stadium. We didn’t draw very well, but the Kings was a great proving ground for me because I got to learn what the business of minor league baseball was all about. But, the Kings didn’t broadcast any of their games, so I still didn’t have any baseball play-by-play experience. So, during my senior year of college, I sent several minor league baseball teams a five-minute snippet of play-by-play I did of a Syracuse University basketball game from the upper reaches of the Carrier Dome. Not one team contacted me.

After I graduated from college and returned home to New York City, I realized I needed to get serious about getting a baseball play-by-play job. And, if no one would hire me without baseball broadcasting experience, I had to be creative. So, I decided I would go to a handful of Mets and Yankees games with my tape recorder and call the action from the stands. From there, I would choose the best-sounding clips and cobble them together into a demo tape I could use to pursue a play-by-play job for the 2002 baseball season.

I followed through on my plan and registered for the minor league baseball job fair at the Baseball Winter Meetings, which were being held in Boston, Massachusetts in December, 2001. I had no idea how many broadcasting jobs would be available at this job fair so, to be safe, I made 50 copies of my demo on my dual cassette recorder. Maybe 10 of those demos actually wound up in the hands of hiring parties, but I did land my first broadcasting job, with the Yakima Bears of Washington State and of the short-season Northwest League, thanks to that demo.

Recently, I found one of those original demo cassettes and decided to listen back to my earliest work. I figured it would be educational at best, entertaining at worst. So, after I found batteries for a tape player I hadn’t used since Dubya’s first term, I gave it a listen (You can listen as well; each play-by-play clip I post is followed by my analysis. Clicking a link will open it in a new browser window or tab).

My voice was the first thing I noticed; it sounded awful. I was trying to talk over the crowd, which you should never do. As a result, my sound alternated between “shouting” and “raspy”. I remember being hoarse after each of the Mets and Yankees games I called because I didn’t know how to properly control and modulate my voice. With experience, broadcasters learn to speak in a more measured tone, a tone that’s different for everyone and a tone that allows you to carry a broadcast every day, for several hours, without getting hoarse on a regular basis.

Mike Piazza two-run home run (:40)

My demo begins with a call of one of the most famous home runs in New York Mets history: Mike Piazza’s go-ahead, two-run blast in the eighth inning of the Mets’ 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves on September 21st, 2001. The Braves were the Mets’ nemesis for more than a decade; even when the Mets were mediocre, they always played the Braves tough, but Atlanta always seemed to find a way to win. The Mets had won the National League wildcard the previous two seasons, culminating in a World Series defeat at the hands of the Yankees in 2000. At this point in 2001, the Mets were in third place in the NL East, 5 ½ games behind the first-place Braves, and nine games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the wildcard. It was a night fraught with emotion not just because of the game, but also because it was the first major sporting event New York City since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Mets eschewed their traditional baseball caps for caps honoring the New York Fire Department, New York Police Department and Emergency Medical Service workers. Both teams’ uniforms had small American flags sewed on the back, just above the players’ names. A red, white and blue ribbon was painted onto the Shea Stadium grass.

You could feel a lot of that emotion in my home run call. I thought I did a good job describing the scene immediately before (“Karsay sets at the belt”) and after (“…into the camera bank, just to the left of the 410-foot sign in centerfield”) the homer. But, you can hear my issues with voice modulation and pacing. In between “deep to centerfield” and “Andruw Jones is back” I take a rather noticeable deep breath; it sounded like I was hyperventilating. I did do a nice job of letting the crowd noise tell the story, though.

B.J. Surhoff RBI single (:37)

Broadcasters are taught to begin their play-by-play demo with their best call, a call that will immediately grab the listener. At the time, I thought the Piazza home run call was my best but, upon further review, I think the second call on my demo is better. That call came two days later in another Braves-Mets game, on September 23rd, 2001. The Mets had beaten the Braves the previous two days, keeping their playoff hopes alive. They were now 3 ½ games behind Atlanta for the division lead, with 13 games to play, but the Philadelphia Phillies were just a half-game back. The Mets entered the ninth with a 4-1 advantage, but saw it evaporate, culminating in a game-tying, RBI single by pinch hitter B.J. Surhoff that I called. I did an even better job of setting the scene in this call (“Braves trying to avert the sweep and stay in first place”). The call of the game action was decent as well and I thought I wrapped things up effectively and succinctly at the end of the call (“so, three times, the Mets were a strike away from winning the game and three times the Braves have been able to keep things alive”). You could hear the disappointment in my voice, which I don’t think is necessarily a bad thing; unless you’re auditioning to call a game for a national audience, there’s nothing wrong with conveying favoritism for the team you follow the closest, and I was still an unabashed Mets fan at the time. The key is to make sure the favoritism doesn’t morph into blatant rooting.

A grouping of highlights (like Piazza’s home run and Surhoff’s RBI single) often serves as the appetizer on a demo (and, like an appetizer, highlights are often unnecessary) and one’s call of a half inning of baseball action is the main course. Generally, at least two half innings should make their way onto a demo. Ideally, you’d like one to be a half-inning with a lot of action and the other half-inning to be a quick one with minimal action; for my first baseball demo, I simply picked the two half innings I thought sounded the best. For reasons unclear to me now, the first half inning I chose wasn’t a full half inning; it was three of the four batters in the bottom of the second inning of a Boston Red Sox-Yankees game on June 4th, 2001 (You generally shouldn’t put a partial half inning on your demo; you don’t want the hiring party to wonder why you chose to exclude part of the frame).

Bottom of the second inning, Red Sox @ Yankees 6/4/01 (3:57)

I set the scene well at the start of the inning, giving the runs, hits and errors for both teams and mentioning who’s due up for the Yankees. I also like that I mentioned the inning’s leadoff man, switch-hitter Bernie Williams, was batting lefthanded against Pedro Martinez (it’s a good idea to occasionally mention which side a hitter is batting from; it helps paint the picture). I’m not too crazy about the home run call, mainly because I never mentioned what the outfielders were doing. However, I do like that I knew Williams had homered off Martinez earlier that season. I also liked the background info I had on Henry Rodriguez. I still had a lot of work to do on calling pitches. You should mention where every pitch ended up and, if possible, the type of pitch (e.g., “fastball high and inside”, “curveball drops below the knees”, “off-speed offering in for a strike over the outside corner”).

Listening back to my first demo wasn’t as cringe-worthy as I initially thought it would be. I think I sound like a broadcaster who’s rough around the edges, but has some potential; I can definitely see why my demo attracted the attention of the Yakima Bears, a team in a position to hire broadcasters with little or no baseball play-by-play experience. It still amazes me that I got my career rolling with a rather simple demo created from Major League games I called from the stands. If you would like to hear the rest of the demo, the audio is posted below.

Highlights (:52)

Bottom of the eighth inning, Red Sox @ Yankees 6/4/01 (17:36)

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