Last night I got to have an evening of pure fun (at least for me). Tuesday, the athletic director at Dayton Christian High School (he was an assistant football coach when Ryan went to school there) called me. DC's baseball team was scheduled to play Troy Christian on Saturday night at Fifth/Third Field, the minor league ballpark in downtown Dayton, and they needed an announcer.
Some of you know that I have announced high school football for nearly 30 years. But baseball is my first love. When I was growing up, I wanted to be the radio voice of the Cincinnati Reds, and my college major was broadcast journalism. But halfway through my senior year of college, I had one of those moments of clarity -- to advance in the business, I knew I would have to move all over the country, and I had to decide between that and my family. It really wasn't a hard choice -- rather, it was more of a "growing up" decision. I grew up in a small town, with one set of grandparents a block away, the other set two blocks away, and lots of cousins and aunts and uncles and such. But I digress -- that's a story for another day.
Fifth/Third Field may be a minor league ballpark, but it's a first class operation. It was built about 2000, and the Dayton Dragons have sold it out every game since it opened (it holds about 8,800). The Dragons are a Class A team, but I have been to AAA games in ballparks that weren't nearly as nice. So this is as close to the major leagues as I'm ever going to get.
I got to the ballpark about 6:15 last night, and spent the pregame visiting with the athletic directors, coaches, and umpires, gathering information that I would use during the game. Then I went up to the press box to the announcer's booth.
This was my view of the field. Since this was the only time most of the athletes would ever play on a field like this, we made it like the World Series -- announced each of them individually and let them run from the dugout to the foul line. The guy next to me played songs as each batter came to the plate and sound effects at appropriate times. And there were all kinds of things going on between innings (races, giveaways, contests, etc.) to keep the fans interested and the announcer busy.
And the game was exciting -- Dayton Christian scored three runs in the bottom of the last inning to win 13-12. I had a ball . . .