Remember, in baseball, you are not a radio announcer; you are the Public Address announcer. Too many P. A. announcers like to think they are on radio and will do play-by-play during the action or recall the play of what people just saw over the P. A. system. Since it is baseball, people pretty much already know which team is batting and can see what happens. It’s not like football or basketball when one of 10-20 players could be in contact with the ball at any one time and possession can change in an instant. Baseball is a station-to-station, one-player-at-a-time game. It can also be very distracting not only to the fans, but players, and umpires when an announcer is doing play-by-play rather than simply announcing the game.
Once the game begins, you will be responsible for:
Some announcers will, prior to each team batting the first time, will announce the other teams’ defensive line-up. Since this can take a lot of time and seem like overkill, you can consdense it in to announcing who is pitching for the team in the field prior to start off the game before announcing who is leading off.
Starting the game EXAMPLE
“On the mound for the Saxons, #12 Jeff Henry. And leading it off for the Amplay Invaders, the short stop, #8 Ben Quill.”
“Batting second, the right fielder, #9 Kelly Lang.”
You always announce the position, number, and name. After the first inning or first time through the line-up, depending on what you feel comfortable with, you don’t need to announce where the batter is in the batting order.
Always announce the position, number and name because players sometimes switch positions later in the game. There are some announcers who simply go to announcing the number and name or just the name after the first time through or after a set inning. The problem with doing this is that the majority of changes happen late in the game and someone who is keeping a scorebook may not have heard your announced changes or simply wants to confirm what they thought they heard without having to scan the field for any possible changes.
It is better to give a little more information in this case than to omit something important. It also appears as though you are paying attention and not just reading from a roster.
Starting an inning EXAMPLE
“Leading off the second for the Saxons, first baseman #32, Will Harris.”
Always mention the team name when starting an inning, but don’t announce the team once the inning has started. This gets redundant and people can see which team is batting. Sometimes, teams will wear uniforms that are close in color so announcing the team name when the inning starts is a good habit to get into should such a situation arise. It also acts as a reset for the fans attention back to the game. There are other games that are showcase games in which teams wear the same logo on the front of the jersey, or wear different uniforms all together so you will need to announce their team name to help maintain their identity for those in attendance.
Another redundancy to avoid is, “now batting” and the various iterations. The fans can see the new batter and it’s implied once you start announcing the position, number and name. It’s possible to develop bad habits when your goal was to simply try to add more information. Think to yourself, is this something that needs to be said in this situation every time regardless of how many times this happens? Even in situations in which there may be people who can only hear your announcements and not see the game, they too can easily identify a new batter without hearing, “now batting”.
From amateur to professional, changes are part of the game. Whether it’s a pinch hitter, pinch runner, new pitcher, or fielding changes, you’ll want to announce all of them when you can, but remember not to announce while play is happening.
Pinch hitter EXAMPLE
“Your attention, please, pinch hitting for John White, #23 Allen Halden.”
You don’t need to announce the team’s name as it’s obvious already which team it is, plus the pinch hitter is not batting for the entire team, the pinch hitter is batting for one player and cannot pinch hit until that player being batted for is due to bat. You simply announce the player being batted for. There are quite a few announcers from the top levels of pro baseball all the way down to youth leagues who make this mistake. Remember, the batter is pinch-hitting for the player NOT the team.
Pinch runner EXAMPLE
“Your attention, please, pinch running at second base for Allen Halden, #46 Cal Barnes.”
Again, the pinch runner is running in place of another player, not the team. With the possibility of more than one runner on base, it’s always smart to announce the base and the player being pinch run for.
New pitcher EXAMPLE
“Your attention, please, now pitching for the Blue Wave, #4 David May.”
In this case, the new pitcher is pitching for the team and not for an individual. Plus, you don’t want to mention the name of the pitcher being taken out if he was hit hard during his time in the game. It’s a sign of respect to only announce the new pitcher.
Defensive change EXAMPLE
“Your attention, please, now at second base for the Raiders, #47 Jeff Sheerer.”
You don’t want to say “defensive change” because it is an overall change for the team. This player will bat in order should the team get to that spot in the line-up. If the player being replaced was the player who had the designated hitter batting for them, the replacement will simply take that spot in the line-up and not bat.
Multiple change EXAMPLE
”Your attention, please, these changes for the Raiders. Moving from right field to left field, #2 Jeff Fortis. Now in the game in right field and batting in the number nine spot, #26 Tony Kotcher. And now pitching for the Raiders, batting in the number seven spot in the line up, #34 Joe Thackaberry.”
This is a double-switch, which happens a lot in college, and in some professional leagues while in high school it’s not as common. The double switch meaning a player and position is being switched in a spot in the line-up. You’ll usually just get straight-up changes when you’ll just need to say who the new players are at their new positions and not say where they are in the line-up.
In amateur leagues, starting players are permitted to re-enter the game for their substitute but may only return to the game once. Your voice and choice of words in this situation can either cause confusion or help quell it.
Returning to the Game EXAMPLE
“Your attention, please, returning to left field for the Raiders, #23 Allen Halden.”
By saying “now in the game” you make it seem like it is a new player in the game. In this case, the player is returning to the game and not entering the game. You can also use “re-entering the game in left field” in place of “returning to left field”.
Now that you know what you have to announce, you’re better prepared to take on an actual game. A lot of people say baseball is a boring game but some of the best have been the ones not shown on television. You never know what’s going to happen next in baseball. Balls take funny hops, bats fly out of hands, and coaches make strange decisions. It’s easy to have fun with a baseball game but don’t allow yourself to get too caught up in the moment.
At the end of this section, you will find a page that will assist you in tracking the defensive alignments of each team on the in-game assistance sheet. Use this sheet to help you verify the defensive line-ups between innings, or of any possible changes that have been made and the umpire did not signal to you. Even in professional leagues where the umpires are to signal to the official scorer any changes, you may not see it or the umpire may forget. It’s a quick scan and if you have others in the pressbox that could help you, ask them to take a look if you’re busy announcing between innings.
The seventh inning stretch became part of baseball, the same way a lot of its early rules and even its origin did, nobody actually knows the real answer. But here we are, midway through the seventh inning and fans start to stand up. Encourage your fans to do so and make sure you have “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” cued up and ready to play. Then all you need to do is simply remind the fans.
Seventh Inning Stretch EXAMPLE
”Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the seventh-inning stretch. So everybody stand up, stretch, and sing along with ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’.”
There are some people who will insist on games that could not have a stretch, to move it to the fifth inning. We’re more for tradition and encourage you to keep it after the visiting team bats in the seventh inning regardless of the length of the game. If you’re announcing a game in which regulation is six or seven innings and the game ends before the stretch, don’t worry about doing it.
It adds a little thrill in lower youth games that are only six innings in length that if they go to extra innings, that there will be a stretch.
Baseball is a sport that’s decided, no matter how long it takes. There have been professional games that have reached 33 innings and games that were played over the course of several days. Because some games don’t end at nine innings—or six or seven depending on the league rules—it’s ok to announce that you indeed, are going extra innings.
Extra Innings EXAMPLE
“And today, we go to extra innings.”
Make the announcement immediately following the end-of-inning wrap-up following the home half of the final inning. This will also help people know that the game will continue if you are in a league in which games could end tied.