Since the first time I clipped a microphone to my lapel, I would tell anyone who’d listen that calling horse races was the most fun I’ve ever had with my clothes on.
Last night, that same level of fun was mirrored when announcing the lineups for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs and my Somerset Patriots.
Taking full advantage of their MyRewards program on the Somerset Patriots app I have collected over 2,300 points and have made great use of them. Last night, I “spent” about 1,500 of those points.
The first 750 were on the opportunity to announce the line-ups. I arrived at 6:30 p.m. as instructed and at about 10 minutes or so before 7:00 p.m. I was brought into the Press Box. PA Announcer Paul Spychala introduced himself to me and I’m not gonna lie, I am pretty sure he had no idea he was about to have company.
That, however, didn’t phase him in the slightest as he was more gracious and helpful than I could have asked for. In a short period of time he assisted on many fronts.
- He ensured I was comfortable with the pronunciation of each player and coach.
- He had the wisdom to shut the mic off after I finished one team and went to the next.
- After I caught my breath his prompt of “ … and now” was more appreciated than he may have realized and
- Whether he meant it or was just being extraordinarily polite and gracious he seemed somewhat impressed with my performance. After listening to this fella for years in my hometown stadium, that was a kind and thoughtful endorsement…and very much appreciated.
Here is the audio of my time in the booth.
Then the evening got even better.
If you know me by now you know I love mascot humor. Sparkee and Slider bring absolute joy to my life every game I go to.
Remember around the holidays when you would see a kid notice Santa in a store for the first time and they really really think OMG THAT’S THE REAL SANTA?!?!?!?!?! Remember how big their eyes got?
Yeah, well, that’s kinda sorta maybe how I am when I am with Sparkee and Slider. I can’t help it. They’re freaking adorable and their performers are just so darn good at their work. They’re always a great deal of fun.
Well, after Sparkee made all our hearts melt by making the cutest little girl in the stadium happy, he waved his paw at me to come follow him. Smartly, he encouraged me to leave my beer with Stacy and Chris.
Moving four rows to the front, beside the Patriot dugout Sparkee motioned to me that he was going to count me down. Fortunately for me I speak mascot and asked “do you want me to holler SOMERSET, encouraging others to yell PATRIOTS?” His magnificently massive head nodded in such a way as to assure me that was precisely what my six foot canine friend wanted me to do.
I could not let him down. By golly, I would not let him down.
He counts me to three and I scream, at the very top of my lungs “SOMERSET!” and section 115 screams “PATRIOTS.”
The puppy seemed pleased. We did it again. It got louder. Then we did it a third time, the response grew louder.
We had something strong going here, this pup and I.
Even though his eyes may have been sewn onto his head, I think I saw them get bigger. He runs up the stairs and goes to the second tier of seats, jumps up onto the railing, looks at me and counts me down AGAIN!
I bellow as loud as I can “SOMERSET” and a well received “PATRIOTS” followed.
Sparkee is pleased. Slider comes over and joins in the encouragement. Oh yeah, this is a good night. Sparkee then bounces over a couple of more sections and has me yelling again and again.
I think Slider may have seen or heard something in my voice give because after about seven or more screams of SOMERSET, they gave the thumbs up. My work here was through.
Then, Sparkee meets me at the top of the stairs of section 115 and hugs the stuffin’ out of me.
Seven or eight innings later our boys lost 5-0 to Southern Maryland but all in all, it was the perfect night.
I announced the lineups and did it well. I was part of Sparkee and Sliders rallying cry for our Patriots, and I got to sit next to Stacy along with our dear friend Chris for nine innings. The people who introduced Stacy and I to each other – Brett and Michelle – came out to support me and as luck would have it, Brett caught a foul ball of his own.
As someone who believes what comes around goes around, and since so many things that evening were going so well, I’d be a fool if I wasted any time in paying it forward. I went to Customer Service and used my remaining 750 reward points to get three official Atlantic League baseballs (all game used foul balls) and gave them to three kids sitting near me.
Granted, I didn’t know the kids but that was part of the fun. I figure since the Patriots and my friends gave me the best evening in baseball I have ever had, why not try to assist in other kids like me (albeit 40-plus years my junior) have a great night, too?
I’ll tell you this: the Patriots may not have won, but I feel like I hit for the cycle. What a night.
Thank you Somerset, for both the opportunity and more fun than $15 should ever provide.