For the Love of the Game

Adventures of a Minor League Baseball Announcer

Opening day awaits
As the River City Rascals’ home opener approaches, radio baseball announcer Phil Giubileo’s to-do list grows longer. As the broadcast voice for this Frontier League single “A” team located 35 miles west of downtown St. Louis, Giubileo, who is heard over on KSLQ 104.5 FM, will pore over last year’s statistics, schmooze with the new players, and arrange his broadcast equipment in the press box. He will also be doing quite a bit of heavy lifting .

Heavy lifting? A radio announcer? Sure. In the minor leagues everyone lends a hand, especially at the beginning of the season. Before each Rascals game Giubileo spends 30 minutes sweeping out the press box and emptying the trash. “I do a lot of pitching in,” he explained, in a phone interview. “The great thing is that I get to do a lot of different things out of necessity,” he said.

Running with the Rascals
During the season, most of Giubileo’s time is spent preparing his game notes and poring over statistics. He arrives at T.R. Hughes Ballpark at 1:00 P.M. and compiles information on the Rascals’ opponents, who include such teams as The Springfield Ducks (Mo.), The Gateway Grizzlies (Ill.), and the Windy City Thunderbolts. He checks for phone calls, sets up his radio equipment. Around 4 pm, the announcer strikes up conversation with the players who have begun their batting practice.

“I try to have a running dialogue with the players, so it makes them feel relaxed,” Giubileo said. “Sometimes we talk about the game the night before.” Giubileo mines these conversations for material to use during his broadcasts.

“It’s important to be mentally prepared and focused,” he adds. Before the start of a game (typically 6:05 or 7:05 p.m.), “I try to relax and concentrate on the information in front of me.” The rule of thumb, said Giubileo, is that for a three-hour broadcast it will take him twice as long to prepare.

During the Rascals’ 97-game season, Giubileo leaves the ballpark between 11:00 and 11:30 PM.

Minor league delights
Giubileo thrives in the homey, fun-loving atmosphere a minor league baseball game provides. “We’re talking about a crowd of 5000 people, not 40,000,” he explains. “We have on-field contests between innings and are very family-oriented. And we have a playground with supervision for the kids.”

Giubileo relishes the club’s between-innings crowd-pleasers, such as the dizzybat competition (think forehead pressed to bat handle while spinning around in a circle) and mattress races (one person pushing the other on a mattress). “There is a lot of cheering and laughing, especially during the dizzybat race,” he said. “It’s sponsored by Budweiser, so when looking for contestants we usually pick the drunkest people we can find.”

Jubilant on the job
Giubileo is one of those lucky few who is happy with his job. “If you love your job it doesn’t feel like work,” he said. Giubileo especially delights in his nontraditional office setting. “It’s pretty special to go to work at a baseball park every day and broadcast baseball games for a living,” he said.

Most important, the announcer hopes his work helps people forget about life’s day-to-day stresses and let go for a while. He knows how energizing he finds announcing a game, how he gets lost in it. “It gives me the same type of high that I would guess an athlete has in playing,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m out there playing the game when I do the play-by-play.”

So you’ll never see someone like Giubileo in a Dilbert comic. He’s having way too much fun. When it comes to competing in the rat-race, in other words, his job’s a home run.