Minor League Stories: Expanding Beyond Baseball

Throughout my nine years in Minor League Baseball, there were always a few things that were the same.  My car was always full of random stuff, my apartments were barely lived in, I worked long hours, and I always found something else to announce in addition to the team I was working for. It started

Throughout my nine years in Minor League Baseball, there were always a few things that were the same.  My car was always full of random stuff, my apartments were barely lived in, I worked long hours, and I always found something else to announce in addition to the team I was working for.

It started almost immediately when I first moved to Florida to work for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays as their DJ in 1998.  About a week into the Grapefruit League season, my boss John Franzone, set up and opportunity for me to go over to Legends Field in Tampa to look at their sound system and learn a few things.  In doing so, I got an insider’s look into someone else’s work.  However as the Spring Training went on, he realized that I enjoyed announcing more.  So he set-up a meeting with me and the Tampa Yankees.  Before I knew it, I was the DJ for the Devil Rays, and when they weren’t in town, I was the P. A. announcer for the Tampa Yankees.  About a month into the Major League season, I was at Florida Power Park watching the Yankees play the St. Petersburg Devil Rays whose P. A. announcer was also the announcer for the Major League team.

As things would get shifted in the Devil Rays organization, I wound up as the P. A. announcer for the St. Petersburg Devil Rays, while also covering a few Yankees games through the season.  The interesting part was there was a four-game, home-and-home-and-home-and-home series between Tampa and St. Petersburg, two in each team’s stadium.  I announced all four games.  During that 1998 season, I also announced a St. Petersburg game in Charlotte and a few other games for Tampa when they had a big night.

Also during the 1998 season, the stadium hosted the NCAA Division-II Southeast Region Baseball Tournament where I met Gil Swalls from the University of Tampa.  I was setting up the microphone for the anthem singer when a conversation started.

“What do you do for the Devil Rays?” Gil asked.

“I’m do the announcing and music, and am the game producer.”  I replied.

“Game producer, I like that.”

We exchanged numbers and as the season was winding down he called me about the possibility of coming over to UT to announce some things, and they had a volleyball match that weekend.  He wanted to know if I was interested in announcing the match, which I was.  He gave me a couple of other matches to announce too, but I happened to show up at the following match as well with my Mini-Disc player with music on it.  I was sitting in the bleachers waiting for the match to start when they asked me if I wanted to announce.  Bam, I was in and spent time the next couple of seasons announcing for UT.  During the 98-99 offseason, I assisted with basketball as fill-in announcer, but full time scoreboard operator allowing me to make some extra cash.  The added bonus, they had a deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning and always had extra Lightning tickets laying around.  Parking at the arena was $6 so I had all kinds of entertainment and made money doing it!

Oh yeah, at the end of that 1998 season, I also started announcing at Dirt Devils Speedway in Land O’Lakes thanks to a friend with the St. Petersburg team.  I announced there every Saturday I could until I left (including during baseball season when we weren’t home) Florida.  One of the drivers at the track was Aric Almirola who is now racing on NASCAR’s top circuit.

In 1999, I gained a full-time position with the St. Petersburg Devil Rays, but was still able to work in some UT baseball games during Spring Training, cutting it close a few times after games, but I was able to do it.  There were other organizations in the area that I met people from and would announce youth football and baseball for a couple of friends.  St. Petersburg Catholic High School asked me to announce for them when I could and I even covered a couple of soccer matches at UT when I could.

As I moved to other cities, I announced for other organizations:

2001 – Auburn, NY:  Worked and announced for the Auburn Doubledays, but also for Cayuga Community College basketball and soccer, Auburn High School baseball and wrestling, a high school basketball tournament hosted by the community college, a high school baseball tournament hosted by the Doubledays, and an NCAA Division-III baseball tournament.

2002 – Modesto, California:  Worked and announced for the Modesto A’s, but also for the Modesto Panthers and Raiders youth football programs.  Also was asked to announce and emcee for the cheerleading competition the Panthers cheerleaders were part of.

2003 – Zebulon, North Carolina:  Worked and emceed for the Carolina Mudcats, but also for the Holly Springs Yellow Jackets youth football program and Clayton Little League baseball tournaments.

2004 – Woodbridge, Virginia:  Announced for the Potomac Nationals, however maintained a busy ice hockey schedule announcing for several area ice hockey organizations and announced volleyball at Centreville High School in addition to other duties.

2005 – Portland, Oregon:  DJ for the Portland Beavers and Timbers, but also announced for a junior hockey organization in Beaverton, Oregon.

2006 – Woodbridge, Virginia:  Maintained my hockey clients, added James Madison High School to the volleyball roster.

By reaching out to the other organizations I was able to make some positive contacts that I still have to this day.  You never know where that next big event is going to come from but by giving myself opportunities to announce in other places, it expanded my network, but also allowed for the team I was announcing for to market to those teams and their fans without spending any money.

Jarrod Wronski

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