Watching youth baseball and softball has reminded me how much love there is for this game. I’ve seen the girls on my daughter’s team practicing with their parents, learning the game, and having fun. It feels great to be in person again.
One thing I would love but have noticed isn’t present, is play-by-play for youth sports. One of the fondest memories many of you have shared is the announcers for baseball games that you’ve listened to on the radio. I started to wonder at what age play-by-play announcing starts. I know when my son played youth football, there were announcers. It also made me wonder how many announcers in the pros started out this way.
The play-by-play helps you know what’s going on during the game. We always have people calling to get a radio to take the game and when I first started at C. Crane, I couldn’t figure out why when they were going to the game to watch with their own eyes, they needed to listen on the radio too. After attending some games, I came to understand that the play-by-play commentary gives so much information. Who’s up, what their stats are, the back story. How the coach might impact it. If there’s been an injury and so much more. Watching the game live in person, there’s almost none of that besides the silent screen showing outs and the ball count or the vendor trying to sell you a $15 beer.
After a little research, I learned Jon Miller (the current “Voice of the San Francisco Giants”), started young, “As a teenager, Miller played Strat-O-Matic and recorded his own play-by-play into a tape recorder, adding his own crowd noise, vendors, and commercials.” Vin Scully, former “Voice of the Dodgers” started his play-by-play broadcasting career in college. Here’s a list of all of the 2022 MLB announcers. It makes a case for offering opportunities to younger folks at these earlier stages. You never know who the next great announcer will be.
I know it’s often said, but the sports radio guys, especially the people doing the play-by-play are some of the most talented and knowledgeable people in radio. Their craft is a bit different than regular talk radio because they have to know the game, their team, and the area inside and out to be taken seriously. You can’t just research a topic or have a guest on and be successful. People’s expectations are for you to know when the team came to this city, who every previous manager was, who got traded where and when, the epic historical moments that defined the team, etc., etc.
We have a local gal, Hailey Dolcini, who has made some big plays this year at the University of Texas and it’s been so fun to follow along. I definitely am not a true baseball fan (although I’m a true fan of my kids) like some of you are, but I have many friends who don’t miss a game. Seeing our small community support her (many even traveling to Texas to watch) reminds me of the many reasons people love this sport. It’s that sense of community. The part of being a part of something bigger than yourself. It’s also the drama. The not knowing the outcome. Getting to watch it unfold. And apparently, it’s also for the play-by-play. That comforting familiar voice, that paints a picture with words. The one that can educate you about the game. The one that envelops you in the drama with their words. And perhaps, just for a moment, it’s the simplicity of a game. An escape from the “real” drama taking place all around. A reminder that there are still a lot of things right in this world.
Please tell us in the comments “Your Favorite Play by Play Baseball Story”.