Powell native wraps season as pro baseball broadcaster

Posted 9/24/09

There are many differences between minor league baseball and the major league baseball that most sports fans are familiar with. For one thing, the beginning broadcaster pay isn't very glamorous — in this case, $500 a month.

That's not a …

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Powell native wraps season as pro baseball broadcaster


When former Powell Pioneers standout Anthony Masterson left town in 2004 to go play ball for Kenyon College, some folks may have hoped he would one day make it to the pros.Masterson did just that this summer — not as a player, but as a radio broadcaster for the Washington Nationals' minor league affiliate, the Class A Potomac Nationals.

There are many differences between minor league baseball and the major league baseball that most sports fans are familiar with. For one thing, the beginning broadcaster pay isn't very glamorous — in this case, $500 a month.

That's not a typo.

“Well, that's before taxes,” said Masterson in a phone interview from Woodbridge, Va., earlier this month. “It's brutal.”

The job — which began in January and ran through the end of the minor league season in early September — was no cake walk either. The typical day started around 9 a.m. and finished around 11 p.m., with a wide array of duties to fill the time between.

So why put yourself through it?

For one, it was a neat gig, and two, “You can get a better job down the road,” said Masterson, adding, “What I want to do is be a major league broadcaster one day.”

It was his junior year of college when he broke into the world of sports broadcasting — pretty literally.

Masterson, who had been pitching for Kenyon College's Lords, broke his left wrist, knocking him out for the season.

With the team lacking an announcer, he was invited to make the transition from the playing field to the broadcast booth.

“I did it, and I had an absolute blast with it,” Masterson said.

That following summer, he interned with the Fox Sports Rocky Mountain television crew, and come the '07-'08 colllege basball season, Masterson decided to stick with the broadcasting -- even though his wrist had healed

After graduating in spring 2008, he landed a fall interview with the Nationals in Las Vegas. Three days later, Masterson was offered the job as a broadcast/media assistant with the Potomac Nationals — or, as they're more popularly known, the P-Nats.

Masterson was later told that one of the deciding factors in his hiring was “the fact that I possess this awesome voice,” he said, in his awesome, “ungodly deep” voice.

That voice was put to work as the team's public address announcer at home, and color/play-by-play broadcaster on the road.

Masterson was also responsible for managing content on the team's Web site, putting together statistic packages, writing game recaps, helping with ticket sales, coordinating media interviews with the P-Nats' players and coaches, producing radio commercials, and he even traveled with the team's mascot, Uncle Slam, to promote reading in area schools.

Masterson said he “pretty much had my head in every department.”

“That just goes with minor league baseball,” he added, noting that the team is basically run by a front office staff of just a dozen folks. (The major league club has more than 20 people in their ticket department alone.)

Unlike broadcasting at the upper levels of professional baseball where independent, commercial radio stations provide play-by-play, Masterson's broadcasts were paid for by the P-Nats — which brought a need to keep a positive spin on the action.

At the outset of the season, there were a couple times when the team's general manager asked Masterson to tone down critical commentary. Instead of referencing a pitcher's 6.35 ERA in July, say, “He's been struggling,” for instance.

By the end of the year, Masterson said the gentler phrasing was second nature.

As would be expected of anyone learning the ropes of broadcasting in front of a live audience, there were some mistakes — the biggest of which, Masterson said, “was me actually saying Sandy Koufax was dead.”

(As of press time, the 73-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher remained a living legend.)

For Masterson, it was a lesson that, “I should probably study these things before I open my mouth.”

The incident redoubled his efforts to get fully prepped for his games.

Of course, that didn't stop the ribbing from his coworkers.

“When I got back to the stadium, there was a book on the life and times of Sandy Koufax sitting on my desk,” Masterson said.

While his chief goal is simply to catch on with any major league club, he does have a likely favorite. He's a since-birth fan of the Cleveland Indians, and, as an added bonus, his cousin, Justin Masterson, is currently pitching for the Indians.

“It's always been a dream of mine to call a game with him in it,” said Anthony.

Masterson splits his rooting interests between the Cleveland Indians and Colorado Rockies, so heading to Denver wouldn't be a bad option if Cleveland wasn't in the cards.

As he wryly puts it, “I wouldn't be upset with either.”

At high-class A ball, there were no particularly jaw-dropping run-ins with famed talent this summer, though Masterson did get taken to dinner by two-time All Star Dmitri Young. Young was on a one-game rehabilitation assignment from the major league club and, following tradition, he treated the P-Nats team and front office to Ruby Tuesday's.

Masterson got the bigger brush with fame two summers ago, while interning with Fox Sports.

While working the opening game of the 2007 New York Yankees-Colorado Rockies series, the Yankees' super-star third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, passed Masterson in a hallway.

“That was kind of my ‘Oh crap' moment,” said Masterson.

Most of the players he saw competing at the minor league level won't end up being big name stars, but some have already made major league rosters. Masterson said he formed personal and professional relationships with many, and that could come in handy down the road.

If nothing else, “I'll be able to say, ‘Hey, that guy owes me a six-pack of beer,'” Masterson quipped.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This version of the story corrects the time of Anthony Masterson's internship with Fox Sports. The original version incorrectly stated that it took place during the summer of 2008.)