On 2 April the last of the final 30 contestants for the Padres PA announcer position had their night under the lights. Yes, as usual I’m behind.
For our final audition before the fan voting started, each of us were allowed to announce at least a half-inning of a regular season game. My day was 2 April against LA, and the ten of us were asked to be at Petco by 3pm. As you might imagine, most of the 10 got there well before that. Once the Media Gate opened, we were badged for the day and waited for an escort/further instructions.
Stephanie and Matt (again, not their real names) led us into the Lexus Home Plate area. There is an elevator at the far end, and we took that up to the press level for a sound check. The Dodgers were on the field stretching at 3:15, so they were treated to us trying to be simultaneously serious and humorous over the air. Most of us were, to various degrees; but one individual took the opportunity to welcome the ‘Los Angeles Losers’ to Petco. Not putting your best foot forward on a job interview there.
The sound check was fairly easy. We were given a headset through which the in-stadium entertainment Producer could talk to us. We verified we could hear her, then said that something cute on the PA system so they could make volume adjustments and verify we were close enough to the mike to be heard. After everyone had a go they asked if anyone wantedone more check. I did; because I wanted to practice saying Seth Smith. That’s not so easy to say when you’re trying to enunciate for 15K+ people.
Next they led us into the Padres front offices and a well-appointed conference room. Wood paneling. A table that could comfortably seat 15 people. All we needed was a wet bar and some smokes, and it would be a hell of a place to play poker. Here they had several handouts for us.
Everything that happens during the game, from a PA perspective, is scripted. I had no idea how scripted it was. For instance,
there’s a template for announcing hitters. All the PA guy needs to do is remember what inning, what position the player mans, his number, and his name. All of which is conveniently located on your scorecard. There are similar templates to this for a pinch-hitter, a pitching change, a defensive replacement, a double switch, and so on.
Even the between inning announcements and events are laid out in detail. Here’s an example, which I got to read, about upcoming games:
The producer would prompt me on when to start reading each successive section. I didn’t look at the scoreboard at all, focusing on what I was reading and the prompts.
After we went over these items, the inning assignments were revealed. One guy got the pre-game intros and the first two innings. Another contestant got to work the 7th inning on. The rest of us each got that half-inning, from the third through the sixth. I was assigned the bottom of the fourth. After that, we were free for about an hour to do whatever we wanted, so long as we were back in the press box by 5:30pm.
Turns out, there is a limit on how much soda the human body can absorb in an hour.
Once the game started, we focused on either watching/scoring the game, practicing player names, and listening to our competition. Once the top of the second started, the Padres wanted three of us were in the PA box at the same time – one working, the other two waiting their turn – until everyone had cycled through.
Finally it was my turn. The box score for the game is here. San Diego eventually lost this game 5-1, but by stroke of luck I worked the inning the Padres pushed across their lone run. We each waited upwards of 4 hours to work that half-inning; and for most of us, our turn at the mike lasted less than 20 minutes.
It was totally worth it.
On 9 April I was eliminated in the cut from 30 to 10. Alex Miniak, as you now know, won the Padres PA Announcer competition.
Thanks again for all the support during the contest. I hope you enjoyed reading about the journey.