Category Archives: baseball

Baseball series 5-8-21

This is my origin story for broadcasting.

When I was at Santa Monica College and looking at schools to transfer to, I saw that Cal State University schools required a speech class as part of the transfer requirements. The only Cal State I’d been considering applying to is Cal Poly, but the speech requirement was still something that I hadn’t yet completed, and I didn’t see room in my schedule for it.

I am not opposed to giving speeches, and public speaking isn’t a foreign thing to me. Not too long before I’d made a decision against taking a speech class, I had spoken in front of the Beverly Hills City Council in opposition to a parks plan.

My dad recommended against taking the speech class and instead recommended taking a broadcasting class. The broadcasting class would not qualify for the speech class requirement, so it was an interesting idea but I’d have to put it into my full schedule, so… pass!

The summer after transferring to UCSB, I decided to take broadcasting class after all. It wouldn’t help my graduation units–my transfer credits were capped already–but I was interested in it, and it was something to do during the summer for a little bit each day while I enjoyed my break from school.

The class was taught by the Ron Brewington, who advised us on what was not newsworthy (dog bites man), and what was (man bites dog). He also emphasized frequently that star is just rats backwards. I remember distinctly that he turned google into a verb by adding ize to it. That is to say that he recommended we “googlize” things. I always imagined googly eyes.


We were also taught to write out our scripts in Courier New and mark up our scripts so we knew where the human speech breaks were.

I learned a lot in that class, but some of this type of formatting did not keep for very long when I went to KCSB.

At the end of the term, we had to write a script and record it. There were phonebooth-sized recording rooms where we had to record to cassette tape. We were in either the same building as or an adjacent building to KCRW, but there was no interaction between the real radio station and the classroom. It’s kind of a shame because they could have done something good with that.

I decided to save mine. And you can hear it if you’d like.

Saturday baseball series 5-1-21

As I write more of these baseball broadcasting posts, I will cover things I found made my broadcasts something that could be at least listened to. You know, things that Joe Buck for absolute certain does not do.

Today’s post is about scoring games.

When I started at KCSB, I did what I had done in high school to score games: I used a scorecard with little diagrams of the field. That’s not to say that I only used the scorebook when I was in college. I had at least some playing time. But still.

After scoring in just black ink, I decided to up my game by using a different color when it was a first-pitch strike. I kept tallies of pitches per inning I wanted to have maximum information to say on the air in real time in case it mattered.

There’s a distinct pen click sound in my early broadcasts.

Before long, I outgrew the paper scorecards. I knew there had to be an electronic scoring system. After all, the live gamecast had to be from manual entry, right?

I found that Daktronics, the scoreboard manufacturer, makes the software I was looking for. With simple keystrokes, I could score the game easily, consistently, and with quick situational stat recall. The problem was that it effectively costs a million dollars.

I don’t remember the exact price, but even now, the price for the full software is $250.

I knew the radio station wouldn’t foot the bill, and I was even more certain that I wouldn’t.

So I kept serarching.

I came across Ballstat / Ball Score that advertised a fully featured program that, with simple keystrokes, I could score the game easily, consistently, and with quick situational stat recall. For free.

Now, that was in the station’s price range!

The software was so good that, while the free version was nominally the trial version, I paid the 20 for the full version because, even though it was identical, it gave the guy who made it some money. In this case, it was $20. It was worth it to me personally to shell that out for how much work it saved me.

Here I am calling a game at the then-named at&t park in March 2011, with ballstat / ball score running. PC Mitchell Clements
Closeup of ballstat / ball score. PC Mitchell Clements.

Sure, I had to learn all the keystrokes, but that was pretty easy!

And when I wanted to pull up situational statistics, I just had to double-click a cell. It was absolutely insane.

A few years ago I looked up the software’s creator because I wanted to share how much all the hard work he’d done had helped me. I wanted to share that I used his software in a Major League park, even if that park is the home of the San Francisco Giants (boo!).

But it turned out he’d passed away years before.

I hate to end it on such a downer. I guess I should have acted earlier on that.

Saturday baseball series 4-24-21

Broadcasting baseball at Ceasar Uyesaka Stadium at UCSB in the late-’00s to early-’10s wasn’t the easiest or most convenient thing to do.

Screenshot of current-day Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

I’m not sure how the stadium is now because I haven’t been to it in almost a decade, but at the time, the bathrooms were limited to a porta potty within the gates. Sometimes there was a trailer with fancier bathrooms in the parking lot off the left side of the field.

Rather than a real press box or designated, permanent broadcast area, there was a folding table set up over some benches at the top of the grandstand right in front of the booth that that holds the controls for the scoreboard as well as seats for the media coordinator/official scorer and the microphones for the PA system.

As for the controls for the stadium’s lighting system? Those were nonexistent.

There were no night games because there were no lights.

Games normally were on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. While many schools hold those games when students can attend and root for their team, UCSB was restricted to games that started at noon or 1pm or 2pm.

Who’s going to show up for a game on a Tuesday at 1pm? Who’s awake as early as 1pm on a Tuesday?

Even Wrigley Field in Chicago got stadium lights in August 1988. From what I heard about a decade ago, it would cost about $50,000 to have a good enough lighting system. I don’t know if it’s happened since, but Caesar Uyesaka Stadium was without any such feature during my time there.

The only way to get to the top of the grandstand where we set up the broadcast table was to walk from the entry to the stadium at the bottom of the grandstand up a level and then up the face of the grandstand beyond the blue chairs to the regular bleachers. There’s no shortcut. No direct access to the top with a side staircase.

From the 2009 Media Guide

Rather than solely making for a miserable existence, the lack of features allowed for unusual experiences.

One of the key points to broadcasting is staying hydrated. If you don’t stay hydrated but have to talk for three hours, you’re going to lose your voice.

But we all know what staying hydrated leads to.

Once when I was calling a baseball game with a new member of KCSB Sports staff, I had to talk more, which meant I had to drink more. And we all know what that leads to.

So at the seventh inning stretch, I ran down the grandstand to get to the sole porta potty. I saw there was a line. Yay.

As time grew closer to me having to go back on the air and not leave the new guy unsupported, I found myself one back from the door. I asked the guy in front of me if I could cut him.

At this kind of request, people can be accommodating. Or annoyed. Or incredulous. Or inquisitive. There are a lot of reasons to say no.

This guy was not eager to comply. His response: “Uh, I’m the left fielder.” As though I didn’t know that. For hours.

I wasn’t ready to give up. “Yeah. But I’m the broadcaster.”

“Oh! Yeah, dude. Go for it!”

The game wouldn’t wait for me to get back, but it sure would wait for him. I’m grateful that he allowed me to return to my job in time and, I guess, talk about him to the world.