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THAT'S THE WAY I SAW IT

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photo by Cindy Cornwell “Close to the Action” Wizard Announcer Jack JohnsonI've always wondered what happens in the radio booth during a Wizards baseball game. I contacted Jack Johnson, Wizards Radio Announcer, and made an appointment to observe what goes on during the April 24th game with the Wizards playing South Bend with an 11:00 start.

Jack played nine years of organized baseball as a catcher for four different organizations. He knows his way around a baseball stadium very well. He also announces boxing and college basketball on the West Coast.

Jack's day starts at about 10am for a 6pm game and 7:30am for an 11am start. He talks to the manager and players, reviews stats around the league, games played the day before, and also makes contact with the Wizards front office.

Both Jack and color announcer Kent Hormann, carrying a small 33 channel TV camera, arrive in the press box about one hour before game time.

The announcers box is a small room about 5' by 8' with a high desk next to two windows that give an excellent view of the field. The announcers sit on directors' chairs. The room also contains a small desk with a telephone.

Upon arrival, they start preparing their score cards with the starting lineups and all sorts of stats. Jack and Kent then discuss the line-ups. For an 11 o'clock start, the pre-game show was taped at 9:30am.

Although Jack says he hasn't given it much thought what he will say when the game starts; he is never at a loss for words before and after the first pitch.

He starts: "What a beautiful day for a baseball game! 5,000 kids will be attending the game." Jack holds out of the window a Queen of Angels pennant (that he made) with cheering response from the school fans. He also waves to adult fans. Even as the game starts seven minutes late, as I have repeated before, he is never at a loss for something to say. Kent at this time makes sure his TV camera is working properly.

From then on, except for commercials, it is a never-ending report of the progress of the game. At 12 noon Jack changes the tape (all games are taped for future reference).

At one time during the game, Kent brings out a USA Today Baseball Weekly and a little bit about college baseball is discussed.

Percosky, Wizard's pitcher, comes out of the game and his pitching stats come over the PA system from the official scorer located in another booth. During the beginning of the fourth inning, Kent takes over and Jack takes a quick break. Jack comes back quickly to take over the bottom of the fourth.

During the seventh Kent again takes some more TV shots. He also does this in the bottom of the ninth so that he won't miss a Wizards rally; if there is one.

Special announcements appear on the bulletin boards beside both announcers. These are read from time to time during the game.

A long game, so no re-cap after the game. The windows are closed and Jack goes downstairs for a press release and Kent picks up his TV camera and heads for the TV station. A long game and a long day for Jack Johnson but his day is now over. Kent Hormann, a political science major at Ball State, who says he tripped into the sports business is still working as he prepares for the 5 o'clock, 6 o'clock, and 11 o'clock TV sports cast or maybe a short on Channel 14.

A long day for both, but you can tell they enjoy it! That ends my session; "Close To The Action". You see folks, That's The Way I Saw It

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