What is it like to be a sportscaster?” That is a question I hear often, and my answer is always the same, “It beats working for a living.” My wife’s response to that witticism is, “for a guy who doesn’t work for a living, you sure are gone a lot.” She is witty, too. Thirty-five years into my career, I still enjoy my work, and I can truthfully answer that way for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, I talk about games for a living! Still, as fun as it is, the job is more complicated than you might imagine.
For example, on a typical day of preparing for Rangers Live on Fox Sports SW, I leave for Globe Life Park about five hours before game time. Once I get to the ballpark, my first stop is the clubhouse. There are some formal interviews done before batting practice, and there is time to just talk to players and coaches in the clubhouse. We also talk to the manager every day before the game. We talk to him every day after the game, too. Which begs the question, ”how do you think of enough questions for two interviews per day?” Good question, and sometimes I am surprised we do have enough questions to ask. Know this, Jeff Banister is a saint to put up with us twice a day. In the course of a baseball season Banny does roughly 650 interviews with those of us who cover the team on a daily basis.
That first clubhouse session is over at about 4 o’clock, and then it is time to begin the specific preparation for the pregame show. This involves talking to the producer, reading the game notes, coordinating with the rest of the crew and preparing my scoresheet. I am old school, I still keep score the old fashioned way – in a scorebook that I optimistically make with enough pages to get through a seven-game World Series.
An hour before the show I get dressed, and the fun begins. On hot summer days my outfit usually consists of a shirt, a tie, a jacket, short pants and running shoes. My colleagues in the press box don’t bat an eye at this goofy-looking get up, but as I walk from the press box to the set at the Rebecca Creek Saloon, I see tons of fans who get such a kick out of the outfit. They will shout, “I knew you only dressed from the waist up…!” Or, “You look like Angus Young.” That, of course, is a reference to the AC/DC guitarist who made short pants and suit coats a fashion trend.
Upon arrival at the set, Mark McLemore, Pudge Rodriguez and I discuss the topics of the show. Their perspective and experience is so vast that I have never stumped them with a question or a topic. Between them they have 40 years in the game, and they have seen it all. That said, I taught them how to dress for TV on a hot day. Pudge often completes the jacket, tie, shorts ensemble with a pair of sandals or flip flops.
One night last season he was actually wearing long pants but loafers with no socks. When I went on the air during the eighth inning to preview the post game show, Pudge raised his barefoot to just over my shoulder and just out of my view. Everyone on our crew saw the hi-jinx except me, and, of course, they all got a big laugh at my expense. The Fox Sports SW Facebook page captioned it, “Hall of Fame foot.”
Perhaps the pictures prove my assessment that broadcasting sports beats working for a living. The truth is we all take our jobs seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously. It would be tough to be too serious when wearing short pants with a suit, or talking to millions of people with a bare foot over your shoulder.
Sports columnist John Rhadigan is an anchor for the Fox Sports Southwest television network.