By Mike Saeger
Hi folks! I’d like to start by thanking Padres Public for allowing me the opportunity to contribute to the blog. Hopefully I don’t bring down the quality of content too much.
Before I start I suppose you should be afforded a little bit of background. The 2013 season will be my fourth calling games for the San Antonio Missions, your Pads Double-A club. Before relocating to Texas I spent 15 years in the California League working for the Inland Empire team. That was preceded by a couple of quick stops in Vero Beach, FL and Augusta, GA. To save you the math, this year will mark my 23rd calling games in the minors.
One of the funny things about what I do is that very often when I meet someone and tell them I’m the announcer for whatever team I’m working, the inevitable response is, “Oh, so you’re the one doing the PA at the stadium.” That is always followed by the requisite, “No, actually I do the radio play-by-play. We have a different person who does the PA,” which is usually followed by something along the lines of, “Wow. So you call the games on radio. That means you must travel with the team. That must be pretty fun.”
I like to think of it as getting paid to watch baseball half the year and talking about it at the same time. Not a bad gig at all, assuming you like baseball. That would be a fairly important aspect to the job description, I suppose.
However, it’s not quite as glamorous as some people may think. As opposed to the majors, where you fly chartered planes that are complete with a 4-star menu, stay at top-of-the-line hotels, never have to carry your own bags, and get around $100 a day in meal money, the life of a minor league broadcaster is spent (usually) taking long and uncomfortable bus rides, or what I like to call “kidney thumpers.” Hotels in the Texas League actually aren’t too bad but I’ve stayed in some real dumps where you dare not remove your socks in the room and occasionally you might even find a used condom under your bed. Haven’t run into that in the TL yet.
There are eight total teams in the Texas League, making it one of the smallest minor leagues in baseball. It’s a great setup for prepping since there aren’t many teams for which to prep. For someone who watches every game, though, it does make for a rather monotonous schedule. For instance, we’ll play Midland and Frisco about 32 times each and Corpus Christi about 24 times. We see the teams in the other division just 12 times each. In fact, we’ve got a roadtrip in June where we go to Midland (absolute middle of nowhere in West Texas; I mean, nowhere) for four games. That’s about a five hour bus ride. We then head down to Corpus Christi for four games (two hours south of San Antonio) and THEN turn around and head back to Midland for another four games!
It’s even kind of crazy when we play the other division because you’ll play back-to-back home-and-home series against two opponents before moving on to a long stretch of games within your division. For instance, we open the season at home April 4 with a pair of three-game series against Tulsa and Springfield. We immediately hit the road and play three games each at Tulsa and Springfield. We don’t see the other two North Division teams for another 36 days thereafter.
You’d better really enjoy what you’re doing if you’re a broadcaster because the schedule is definitely arduous. Besides long bus rides in the Texas League, which for us generally means about five hours on the short side and 12-13 hours on the long end of it, we’ll play 140 games in 2013 over the course of 152 days. That’s 12 off days over five months. If you don’t like busting your hump, this is the wrong business for you. Let me tell you, there’s not much that’s more demoralizing than looking out the window at the cars on the highway as you ride into town following a trip, and wondering where all those people are likely heading for their lunch break. That would be your trip home from Springfield, MO. But there are a couple of others that come pretty close to that.
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In Part 2, Mike discusses preparing for a game, trying to maintain a family life during the season, and getting to watch future stars before anyone knows who they are…