When it comes to public address announcing, softball has always been something of a discomfort zone for me. I’ve done it so infrequently that it barely counts. A couple months ago, I was asked by the IUPUI Jaguars program if I’d help out and announce some games. Naturally, I obliged. Of course, no one expected the colossal trainwreck that followed.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but compared to basketball, soccer and volleyball, my performance as a softball PA announcer leaves nothing but room for improvement. Take yesterday’s doubleheader at the IUPUI Softball Complex. When announcing the starting lineups for the teams, I had trouble recognizing one of the names as it was written on the lineup card. The batter in question was eighth in the lineup. I correctly identified her position and number, but her name? A pregnant pause gave way to a second of awkward silence, which allowed just enough panic to set in that I winged it on the illegible name: “Audria…Begonia,” I said, to a smattering of laughs from both the team’s players and the fans scattered in the bleachers behind me.
I glanced at IUPUI’s Sports Information Director John Berry, who could barely contain his laughter, corrected me between giggled. “Basquez!” he said.
Yep. I turned Basquez into Begonia. It gave J.B something to laugh about for a solid five innings.
After the name faux pas, everything else settled down. The Jags won the nightcap 3-1, after dropping the first game 5-4. Truth is, I don’t mind working softball, but it’s not as comfortable as working for our other sports. I don’t think I’m telling any stories out of class by saying the Softball Complex leaves much to be desired. There is no press box, forcing the stat crew, visiting SID and gameday crew to occupy a couple rickety tables behind the backstop. There is no overhead cover, exposing us and, more importantly, our gear, to the elements. When it’s cold and threatening to rain in early spring, it’s especially cold for us. When it’s an otherwise warm, perfect day (as it was yesterday), we bake in the sun. I went through about five bottles of water just to stay hydrated.
We end up spending most of our time standing behind home plate, going through our motions. It’s not as intense a pace as basketball or volleyball, nor is it as slow as soccer. From an announcer’s standpoint, there’s not much to announce other than batters, pinch runners, new pitchers, etc. Even though I’m a baseball fan, my relative lack of familiarity with working softball lends itself to dumb errors. Should I pick up the slack and announce at softball next season, I’ll need to tighten up.
In the meantime, I’m hoping to win the Powerball jackpot so I can build a press box for next season.