It’s already been a year since we tragically lost the legendary Red Sox public address announcer Carl Beane. I can still hear his friendly voice welcoming fans to Fenway, even during playoff games with the hated Yankees when the tension could be cut with a knife. His voice had a calming effect on me as I sat on pins and needles hoping the Red Sox would break through and finally win a World Series.
I remember the first thing I heard on my initial visit to Fenway Park. It was Sherm Feller announcing the name of my favorite player, “Number 24, Dwight Evans, Right Field, Evans.” Feller passed away in 1994, but his voice is fondly remembered by Sox fans everywhere.
The voices of these two men remind me that there is no such thing as a bad day at the ballpark. I never could have predicted, however, that my best days at Fenway would be two frigid January days with the wind chill hovering around zero degrees.
Those were the days I had the chance to hear my voice reverberate through the bleachers, grandstands, and Green Monster seats of the old ballpark, and onto Lansdowne Street and Yawkey Way. My wife and friend told me that the Red Sox were holding auditions for the vacant public address announcer position. Without knowing what to expect, I rose early that Saturday and drove to the ballpark to find a good parking spot. I entered what looked like an empty ballpark until I reached the EMC Club where more than 500 applicants waited to belt out the starting lineups for the 2013 Red Sox. I was number 349, so I had a long time to wait before my chance arrived. During my two-plus hour wait, I read through the script, practiced my breathing, and thought about the opportunity I was given. Two and half hours is a lot of time to think, however, so I took advantage of an opportunity to audition for a chance to sing the national anthem at a future game while I waited. This certainly calmed my nerves, and gave me the confidence to relax and let my voice take over. My time finally came to enter the press box, approach the microphone, and announce the starting lineup of my favorite team to adoring fans.
The stands were empty of course, but I was full of energy, excitement, and awe as I sat in the same seat of two iconic voices. Times have changed since my first game. I don’t remember Sherm Feller saying “Today’s starting nine is brought to you by the 99 Restaurant,” but that was my first line, and I announced it enthusiastically. After reading two pages of copy over two minutes, I made it through my audition without any errors. I was happy with my effort, and the frigid winds whipping through the open press box window didn’t affect me at all.
A week later I received an unexpected email from the Red Sox asking me to come back for a second audition. A sense of excitement, apprehension, and a feeling of nostalgia engulfed my every thought in the two days leading up to my second audition. Could it get any better than this? After a thirty-year love affair with the game of baseball, the Red Sox and Fenway Park, I could have the opportunity to spend 81 days announcing the names of my favorite players at my favorite home away from home. I was one of the last 35 remaining to become the voice of the Red Sox, and I read through six pages of copy without a hitch. On my way to Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers to see the Red Sox in spring training, I was notified that I didn’t get the job. As devastated as I was, I couldn’t help but feel lucky that for two days this past winter, I was able to follow in the footsteps of greats Sherm Feller and Carl Beane.