Anatomy of a broadcaster’s briefcase

Fans may be surprised to learn that a baseball broadcaster doesn’t show up 15 minutes before a game to go on-air. “That’s not the way it works,” said my husband Ken Singleton, who devotes hours to his “homework” before picking up a YES Network microphone.
 
Like the average American, a workday for him is 8-hours-plus, except his is not 9-to-5 but the “second shift” — he leaves for the ballpark at 3 p.m. and returns to the hotel around 11:30 (barring extra innings or rain delays).
 
Let’s peek into Ken’s 15-pound briefcase (actually he uses a small black suitcase on wheels) to examine the tools that help him prepare for each game:

laptop300.jpg1.    Laptop – Ken visits specific websites daily to check game scores around the leagues and to find out who did what. He learns of players’ injuries, special streaks and to see what’s happening beyond Yankee Stadium. His preferred sites include:

a.    ussportspages.com
b.    baseballreference.com
c.    playerprofiles.com
d.    mlb.com

2.    Press Guides – Ken carries specific ones needed for a particular road trip and keeps a press guide in his home office for every American and National League team. He researches historical notes and a plethora of stats. “Press guides tell me everything I want to know about a particular player or team,” he said, “even a player’s birthday.” (Certainly, Ken always carries the Yankees press guide.)

3.    Scorebook – Designed by his former Montreal Expos broadcast partner, Dave Van Horne (42-year veteran broadcaster and current lead play-by-play radio announcer for the Florida Marlins), Ken’s scorebook includes room to write notes and track pitchers, game times, team records and next-game pitchers. Ken orders these specially designed scorebooks from a local printer, made thick enough to record an entire season of games.

4.    Elias Notes – Produced each game by Elias Sports Bureau Inc., a major informational source for all sports, these notes are waiting in the YES booth — a copy for each broadcaster and one for the statistician. “These are very important,” says Ken. “They give good information about that particular game.”

Things he looks for: players on hitting streaks and reaching special milestones; injured players and who’s back in the lineup after an injury; what currently makes a team good; why a club is playing better now than at the beginning of the season (or vice versa). “I look for interesting items I think fans may want to know,” said Ken. “What would someone at home ask about this player or team?”

5.    Calculator to figure batting averages

6.    Legal pads to take notes

7.    Hall’s honey lemon cough drops for after L-O-N-G games
 
The first day of a series, or rejoining the Yankees after he’s been off a week, will include the most preparation for Ken. Not every note he collects is used in one game. In a three-game series, for example, he may use some the following day.
 
“It’s better to be over-prepared,” said Ken, “because you never know when a game is going to go for 15 innings.”
 
Also, for every game he prepares a Scouting Report on the starting pitchers — one for each team. “I write three interesting notes about each pitcher and email it to a graphics guy at YES.”

cc275.jpgFor instance, as I questioned Ken for this story, he had made a note for tonight’s Sept. 7 game about CC Sabathia going for his 20th game win.
 
After Ken pours over all the information he has collected, “I’m basically ready to do the game,” he says.

After settling into the press box, he visits the clubhouse to obtain the starting lineup and chat with players on both teams. Sometimes he peeks into Joe Girardi’s press conference before the game (held near the clubhouse in a conference room) or if he doesn’t have time, he listens to it in the booth. For additional homework, Ken speaks with the visiting team broadcasters, many his friends.
 
“They see the teams every day,” said Ken. “I don’t. Although I think I know a lot about a team, they have a better insight to help me with my game.”
 
And if he didn’t spend time preparing?
 
“I would run out of things to talk about! I’d be reacting to the game itself but wouldn’t be able to fill in the blanks. There’s a lot of time in between pitchers and hitters. I have to fill it with interesting information for the fans.”

1 Comment

For those who think broadcasting a game is easy…a fantasy broadcast booth was available in the mid-late 90’s at YS II. You could have fun with it, or try to do it like a pro. In either case, the play by play was relatively easy, especially if you closely follow baseball. Trying to fill in the blanks is not, and that was only one inning. We had stat sheets and a few ancedotes about each player, which were provided for us. Tino Martinez allowed me the opportunity to call a three run homer in the first inning of a game against Cleveland in 1997, which was the highlight of the day. I remember when Michael Kay first started on radio, John gave him the mic for the 3rd inning, and I could hear the terror in his voice. Ask him if he remembers that. We all seem to take for granted the work that the broadcast teams do, but if you don’t put in the preparation, the end result will get you replaced. We appreciate and enjoy the hard work that you all do every day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: