Manager John Schiffner sees me coming from his perch in the dugout and makes sure to put on his hat. His hair is a little disheveled today, and wouldn’t look very good on camera.
Ten years ago this scenario would never have played out in the small town of Chatham, Massachusetts. Ten years ago the Cape Cod Baseball League, the nation’s pre-eminent collegiate summer baseball league, didn’t even broadcast their games on the radio.
These days, however, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr are being used to revolutionize the league’s game coverage, and bring the action, stories and personalities to a worldwide audience.
Where families and friends of players, along with scouts and representatives from Major League organizations, once had few options at their disposal to follow the top players and stories from the league, there is now a wide range of ways to experience the action on the field without ever setting foot inside the Massachusetts state line.
The challenge for young sports reporters then, now recruited by the league nearly as heavily as the young men on the diamond, is maintaining these new news networks, while staying up to date on their research, and continuing to fine-tune their craft.
It’s a challenge that Syracuse student and former Wareham Gatemen announcer Seth Bernstein has accepted, understanding that the business he’s entering has changed by leaps and bounds since he first aspired to enter the radio booth. “Social media has certainly made a broadcaster’s job a bit different,” says Bernstein. “It’s not just calling what you see in front of you anymore – you also have to keep your Facebook fans and Twitter followers up-to-speed during the game, as well.”
The trick now is to continue improving the league’s coverage, in an effort to bring more fans into the fold, and increase tourism and merchandise sales as much as possible.
Each team now employs the use of a single camera, normally located behind home plate, to stream live video of each home game. With the high number of new viewers coming in as a result, the league has considered asking each team to use two or more cameras to broadcast their games, which would narrow the field of broadcast applicants to those with greater technical abilities and personnel management skills, along with the ability to accurately and enthusiastically relay accounts of the action on the field to a now global audience.
How much that will thin the number of resumes the league receives has yet to be determined, but one thing is for certain: students who dream of a career “calling the game” must now be more prepared and technically savvy than ever before.