How to announce at a Little League game

Announcing at Heroes Park, April 2010One of the things I enjoy doing at Little League games is to serve as the announcer. It seems that the players and parents enjoy it too. The only complaints I’ve received are from other teams who are unhappy that I don’t announce at their games. But there are some rules I need to follow when announcing at a Little League game.

1. Get the players’ full names and correct pronounciations. Nothing is sweeter to a person than the sound of his or her own name. And nothing sounds worse than hearing it pronounced incorrectly. When I go over the lineups with the managers, I listen for the way they pronounce players’ names. If a name is unfamiliar, I say it back to them so they can make sure if I’m saying it correctly. Then, I spell it out phonetically on my score sheet. Of course, the first time I mispronounce a child’s name, the parents will let me know. (grin)

If I don’t know the players on a team, I ask the manager to give me their first names. (Usually, they put their last names on the lineup card.) There may be parents who don’t want their child’s full name announced at the field for safety reasons. If so, I honor their request and only announce the last name.

2. Be fair. As an announcer, I am a game official and must be impartial. I announce players on the opposing team with the same enthusiasm and excitement as I do for those on my son’s team. I also note player accomplishments on both teams, such as a batter hitting a home run or a pitcher striking out the side. (“[Pitcher] does it all as we go to the top of third.”) I closely follow the rule about “no cheering from the press box,” but I once tripped over my words when I announced a batter after my son made a spectacular catch. I apologized by saying, “Sorry. Proud papa moment,” which got laughs from both sides.

3. Do not announce a batter until he or she comes steps to the batter’s box. This was something an experienced Little League umpire told me. He said that by announcing a batter before he comes to the plate, I’m “tipping the team’s hand” about who is batting next. When the batter has come to the plate, it’s already clear to the defensive team who’s batting.

4. Keep everyone informed. Our home field doesn’t have an electronic scoreboard. So, I announce the score after every inning. If it’s a long inning, I’ll announce the score and number of outs between batters. In the bottom of the final inning, I’ll announce changes in the score. I also announce pitching changes. One thing I don’t announce during a regular season is the pitch count. According to Little League rules, the manager asks the umpire for the count. In turn, the umpire asks the official pitch counter.

5. Pick the right music. Music sets the mood for the game. I always pick exciting, upbeat music to play between innings. I usually pick classic rock and dance music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s because parents and kids love it. Since this is Little League, I can’t use any songs with vulgarity. No “I’m on a Boat.”

There are certain songs that I play for different situations. I usually pick a “play in” song when the team takes the field for the first time. I usually play Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” for my son’s team because that’s what the Major League Angels play when they take the field. (I used to play Train’s “Calling All Angels,” but my son got sick of it.) When we played the Red Sox, I played “Tessie” by the Dropkick Murphys. As a nod to our league’s other Majors team, the Dodgers, I play Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Since we don’t have eight innings in a Little League game, I play it in the middle of the fourth.

When things get too heated on the field, such as when managers argue with the umpire or parents start yelling from the stands, I’ll play “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFarrin. It’s to remind everyone that it’s just kids playing baseball.  

I always turn down and then shut off the music when the catcher calls for the throwdown. That’s my cue that the inning is about to start. I also turn down the music when the umpire needs to have a conference at home plate.

6. Have fun and make it fun for everyone. Being an announcer is like being a DJ at a party. It can help everyone have a good time. Regardless of the outcome of the game, we want kids and their parents to have a great time with baseball. By announcing, I can make a contribution to the experience.