From the first day behind the microphone, there’s always been a scoreboard–when it worked. There was also the expectation that if the scoreboard worked, then the only person in the pressbox would run it. So started a 25-year career of operating scoreboards in addition to announcing. It started with baseball, but it’s extended into other
From the first day behind the microphone, there’s always been a scoreboard–when it worked. There was also the expectation that if the scoreboard worked, then the only person in the pressbox would run it. So started a 25-year career of operating scoreboards in addition to announcing. It started with baseball, but it’s extended into other sports and message boards too!
Since that first day that the scoreboard worked, there have been people who have decided to just come up to the pressbox and run the scoreboard, or try to take over. Nothing more frustrating when you’ve been running the board without issue for three innings, then someone comes up, starts conversing with other people and begins missing pitches. After the first time this happened, the volunteers would be thanked then invited to head back to their seats.
One of the biggest hassles was setting up “mission control” so everything was within reach. A volunteer would come in and want to move things around. Because you know, as an announcer, you love to have people move things around after you’ve already set everything up. People have moved my music cart (with the mixer and audio devices on it), the scoreboard controller, the scorebook, the lineup cards, the upcoming music selections, etc. It’s great when someone wants to help, but when they see a student and try to just jump right in, it’s not that much fun.
After one year of doing the scoreboard with announcing for baseball, the following fall football announcing beckoned. It’s a lot harder to run the scoreboard and thankfully officials were assigned to do this. Not so much for basketball and that was a huge learning curve. I didn’t know a lot about basketball at the time, so not only did the self-teaching include learning what needed to be announced, but also what to put on the scoreboard, while making sure the clock started and stopped when it needed to. Did I make mistakes? Yes. But I also learned from those mistakes quickly, and my stubbornness didn’t want to let anyone else take over. That was the motivation, to stay in that position by making myself hard to replace.
It really only takes three or four games to get the hang of everything. It’s knowing when to do what, and figuring it out. Having the microphone propped in front of me helped with announcing to eventually getting a headset. After getting comfortable, adding in tracking the fouls and assists and then music was only natural. The want to do more, and taking the initiative to do more would wind up helping me out in later years even though all I was trying to do was keep the job.
Something people don’t tell you when you start announcing is there will be detractors, and there were. There were a number of coaches who believed themselves that nobody could run the scoreboard and announce at the same time, and would try to get other parents involved. These were visiting coaches who would come in and try to boss me around. The support system at W. T. Woodson was so strong that mysteriously there wasn’t anyone there to “help”. Officials would watch during the games, trying to find a mistake and wouldn’t see it. Just being able to do that raised my stock in many a person’s eyes and allowed me to excel. One day, an official tried to run the clock and missed a lot of the information we would put on the scoreboard. Fans came over at halftime and asked why the information isn’t on the scoreboard when it usually is on there. After a couple of terse replies from the man in stripes, nobody saw him again when the second half started.
And it wasn’t just in basketball, there were also the soccer matches which really didn’t have much announcing or clock stops/starts, lacrosse in which is two different sports between boys and girls, and eventually field hockey, wrestling, and any other sport they had. As the years would go on, adding ice hockey would be a big one that would catch the eyes of a few who have given me opportunities to do more.
Just this past year, I’ve run the down-and-distance while announcing a football game (yes, I surprise even myself with this, but the auto-calculate function on the Daktronics 5000 series controller is nice), the scoreboard for ice hockey, a wireless scoreboard for lacrosse, the scoreboard for wrestling and the scoreboard for volleyball all while announcing. People still marvel that someone can do it, including the officials who sit in awe, rather than forced disbelief that it’s just not possible to do it at all, let alone do it well.
Pushing yourself to do more, and to do it well will help you in the end. You may make a mistake, miss a pitch, forget to stop the clock, but you develop a sixth sense that will allow you to make the correction without anyone knowing. That’s always a good thing.
Next Week: You can’t run the music and announce at the same time.