By Guest writer Nicholas Badders
What exactly does baseball mean to me? To put that question into perspective, I am typing this while watching the Super Bowl.
I came across baseball purely by happenstance, back in 2004. My kindergarten teacher was an Oakland A’s fan, and I liked her, so I tried to take interest in the team. The summer after kindergarten, I was visiting my grandparents in Massachusetts and my grandpa, a die-hard Red Sox fan was watching the game.
I sat down next to him, again just trying to take an interest in something that someone that I looked up to liked. The team that the Sox were playing was wearing green jerseys. As someone whose favorite color was green, it was hard not to want to support them. Little did I know that was the jersey of the team I would soon fall in love with.
Fast forward to 2006 and I was gifted an AM/FM radio. I had watched the A’s on television and gone to a couple of games in person, but I had never followed the game without a visual. For the 2006 season, I discovered the magic of radio. Nearly every day the A’s played in ’06, I would sit on the floor with dinner, my homework or baseball cards, radio by my side, listening to every pitch until my parents sent me to bed, at which point I would fall asleep listening to the final few outs.
2006 was the first year that a man named Vince Cotroneo joined the A’s radio team, replacing the Bill King. I listened to Vince and his broadcast partner Ken Korach for years and still do to this day. They were the two that truly brought me to now only love the Oakland A’s, but the sport of baseball.
Fast forward over 10 years and now I’m a freshman at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. My major is sports journalism and my plan is to use this opportunity to vault myself into professional baseball. The two main factors that played a role in my decision to come to ASU were not the parties or the girls, instead the baseball in the valley and Cronkite.
Another man who made that decision is Dominic Cotroneo. Dom is the son of Vince Cotroneo and has become one of my very good friends in college and someone that I can always go to with broadcast advice. Dom spent 2016 as the play-by-play broadcaster for the Pioneer League Orem Owlz, having done two summers in the Cape Cod League before that.
He was the one who introduced me to the Walter Cronkite Sports Network and Blaze Radio, the two clubs on ASU’s downtown campus that have allowed me to get immediate experience in the field of broadcast and journalism.
My goal in life is simple (the path may not be but my goal is). I want to become a baseball play-by-play broadcaster. I want to inspire a new generation of baseball fans and allow the youth of the future to fall in love with the sport that has shaped who I am now. I’ve discovered a love for other sports at ASU, like hockey for example, but baseball is my first and most true love.
I like writing and broadcasting, I like other sports like hockey and I am an involved Boy Scout. But nothing is as big in my life as baseball and I don’t see that changing for a long time (if ever). Baseball is what I am passionate about, that is where I see my career headed. Not everyone, but a lot of the people that I have met in college either don’t know what they want to do in life or only have a vague idea. I know exactly what I want to do. I’m incredibly lucky.
Right now, I’m not getting paid. And it’ll be a long time before I am able to earn a paycheck for calling baseball games. But in my mind, baseball broadcasting is a job that I can see myself doing for my entire life. I cannot see it being a job that I get tired of, or ever feels like a job for that matter.
This writing allowed for a lot of self-reflection and retrospective thinking and I cannot thank Kelly enough for the opportunity to pen this piece. Baseball is a very large portion of my life, it is a significant contributor to who I am today.
It’s funny how everything works out really. My love for baseball developed over the radio, sending me to school to study to become a baseball broadcaster and hopefully leave the same impact that was left on me. All of this is happening while having a mentor that was mentored from the man who looking back, is a big part of why I came to Arizona State.
Baseball carried me through my childhood, giving me happiness when I was sad, teaching me lessons and helping me find a passion. It brought me from my late grandfather’s lap to the same studio that the Phoenix Suns shoot their pre and postgame show from, down the road from Chase Field.
Baseball is who I was, who I am and who I will be, baseball means the world to me.