Magazine Mar/Apr 2013 Painting the Pitch

01 April 2013, 17:26
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Painting the Pitch

Baseball can be simplified into a basic game of throw the ball, hit the ball and catch the ball. Yet pleasant baritones perched above stadium decks call such sequences as if they were poetry in motion. Their artistic dialogue has bridged the gaps between generations much like the game’s glorious history does. Fans recognize the voices of Scully, Harwell and Buck telling stories about Koufax, Kaline and Musial better than their relatives. Baseball and its broadcasters blissfully eased Americans into turning the sport into the nation’s pastime. Matt Vasgersian is a product of the greats on and off the diamond. Today, he shares a host of stories on MLB Network and FOX as a play-by-play announcer.

There are hegemonies in sports broadcasting. The Bucks, Careys, Alberts, Kalases, and Brennemans are just some of the notables among them. Their children were raised on sports, brushing shoulders with legends before learning to brush their hair. Getting a job in the business was a foregone conclusion – they were successors synonymous with the surname.

Matt Vasgersian didn’t have such luxuries.

He was the successor to his Boston Red Sox-loving father, Ed – a former Marine who spent a career in San Francisco’s law enforcement. Ed schooled his Oakland Athletics-loving son on baseball.

Vasgersian was born in 1967, a year before the A’s relocated from Kansas City. After a World Series three-peat from 1972-74, Matt was hooked and spent his formative years at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as a diehard fan, listening to Bill King. The late King called A’s, Golden State Warriors and Oakland Raiders games, all of Matt’s favorite teams.

“I always knew that I wanted to be in broadcasting, but I never knew if it would actually happen,” says Vasgersian, who was also a child actor.

Well, it did happen.

Today, Matt Vasgersian is 45 years old, looks 25, and has been a baseball announcer for half his life. He estimates calling over three thousand games and has broadcast everything from the Olympics to the NFL and college sports to blackjack and poker programming.

However, there was an unfulfilled benchmark on his credits list – calling a baseball playoff game. Last October, he took care of that by announcing game two of the Divisional Series between the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics.

After centerfielder Coco Crisp dropped a fly ball that would have preserved a lead, Vasgersian yelled, “…and he can’t make the catch! Two runs will score and the Tigers have taken the lead! Santa Maria!”

Santa Maria is the occasional euphemism Vasgersian drops for his “Holy —-!” moments.

Fans have known the witty Vasgersian well before his postseason debut; his professional ascent has played out to plenty of satisfying Santa Maria’s. He currently calls games and hosts a variety of shows for the MLB Network. He’s also the play-by-play guy for FOX’s Saturday Baseball Game of the Week and the voice behind Sony Playstation’s MLB The Show since 2005.

He previously worked as the play-by-play man for the Milwaukee Brewers for five years and the San Diego Padres for seven, but before the big leagues and national audiences, he toiled in small-time radio across every stage of the minors.

“It’s going to sound like false humility, but I’ve been in the right places at the right time,” says Vasgersian. “Even if you’re not everyone’s cup of tea, at the very least you hope that you are respected. I feel that I’ve worked hard enough for that and to be deserving of the opportunities that I was given.”

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