We continue our 2012 Ballpark Digest Awards with the announcement of the Broadcaster of the Year Award: Donny Baarns, the Voice of the Visalia Rawhide (High Class A; California League).
This was the most difficult category to judge this season: there is an abundance of riches in broadcast booths, and the increasingly complex roles taken on by broadcasters goes well beyond just calling the game. Listening to a baseball game on a radio is still a special experience, and the game is in good hands with the next wave of noteworthy voices making their way though the minors.
“There is a lot of talent in broadcast booths these days,” said Kevin Reichard, publisher of Ballpark Digest. “It takes a lot to stand out from the talented crowd. Because of his involvement in many other areas of team operations, Donny is our choice for Broadcaster of the Year.”
Wrapping up his fifth year as the Voice of the Rawhide, Baarns wears many hats with the team, ranging from broadcaster to sales executive to club archivist, authoring a history of pro baseball in Visalia and speaking on the importance of teams embracing local baseball history at the 2011 Winter Meetings. And, like many broadcasters, he’s embraced the podcasting medium with an offseason presentation, “Candid Voices,” where he speaks with other broadcasters about their craft and work.
“I’m incredibly honored to receive this award, and it wouldn’t be remotely possible without our president, Tom Seidler, allowing me the freedom to put together the broadcast each night and to pursue these other projects as well,” Baarns said. “Our club has come such a long way over the past several years, and I’ve been so privileged to be a part of it.”
“Donny is a joy to have on staff — he has a tremendous work ethic, sets a high standard for himself and our organization, and is a very respectful young man,” said Rawhide owner Tom Seidler. “He works extremely hard to constantly improve his broadcasts, and will be a big league broadcaster some day soon.”
Baarns joins some other notable broadcasters honored with this award, including Jay Burnham (Trenton Thunder), Mike Capps (Round Rock Express) and Paul Edmonds (Winnipeg Goldeyes).
We also wanted to cite the following broadcasters for their accomplishments this season and beyond. We took the time to listen to multiple broadcasts from all the nominated broadcasters — and there were a lot of nominations this season — and give the following broadcasters an extra measure of recognition:
- John Sadak, voice of the Wilmington Blue Rocks (High Class A; Carolina League). Sadak’s skill behind the mike is noteworthy, but his success goes beyond the booth to the business side (where he’s negotiated team radio rights) and the advertising side. Twice named Delaware Broadcaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters & Sportswriters Association, Sadak also calls college football for Dial Global (formerly Westwood One) and college basketball. UPDATE: Sadak today was named 2012 Carolina League Broadcaster as voted on by his peers. Congrats.
- Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, voice of the Lansing Lugnuts (Low Class A; Midwest League). His annual ticket-tape call — where he announces a game without seeing the action, working solely off a truncated game feed, just like the announcers of yore — is a highlight of the season for many. He’s a true student of the game — which you’ll see in upcoming days.
- Mick Gillispie and the entire Tennessee Smokies (Class AA; Southern League) team. While many teams are scaling back their game broadcasts, the Smokies are going the other way, putting together a team that includes Gillespie, Cody Chrusciel and Roger Hoover, broadcasting over a Smokies Radio Network that reaches Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama and parts of North and South Carolina. Gillespie, a very accomplished broadcaster in his own right, oversees the proceedings, as well as the team’s videos for YouTube, news postings on the smokiesradio.com website and the team’s Facebook presence. That’s a lot of content.
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