At the age of 10, John started making tape recordings, practicing calling the play by play while his dad officiated basketball games.
“I saw these guys on TV and listened to them on the radio and it struck me that they were getting paid to watch sports and help bring the game to other people.”
That same year, McGwire and Sosa were chasing home run history. Because WGN broadcast all the games and John had access to WGN, he became a Cubs fan.
“I have always loved baseball and playing catch. I have five nephews and played catch with them last summer.”
At his older sister’s basketball games, John would video and announce the game into the recorder.
“My parents loved it, and it probably kept me from pestering them during the games.”
He graduated from Glendale and announcing opportunities kept coming. As a freshman at Drury, he was the color announcer for the men’s basketball team. As a sophomore, he traveled and was responsible for the internet announcing of the baseball team. By his senior year, John was the full-time play by play announcer for the basketball team. John now does play by play work for Drury University, calling games of all varieties: basketball, soccer, volleyball, baseball, and softball. He’s called high school football as well as minor league baseball games, too.
I love John’s story. A childhood passion became a paying job.
Two years after graduating, John was on the mic when Drury beat Metro State for the NCAA-II national championship. His dream job is to work for a Division I team like Mizzou. He is a big fan of Joe Davis (Dodgers) and Dave Flemming (Giants).
“I just think those two are at the top of the game.”
As a Royals fan, I have a good connection with any Cubs fan — a mutual love and appreciation of Ben Zobrist. John and I spent time talking about MLB’s dispute with Zobrist over his P.F. Flyers.
“It’s pretty ridiculous, I think,” John said. “He’s doing it out of a love for the history of the game.”
Out of love for the history of the game, Ben Zobrist rode his bike from home to Wrigley wearing his Cubs uniform. After the Cubs won the World Series, he stood outside his home and signed autographs for hours, not turning anyone away. And, for the past couple seasons, Zobrist has worn all-black spikes at Wrigley Field during day games.
He wrote the following on his Instagram account:
“When I was a kid, I was inspired by highlights of the greats such as Ernie Banks and Stan Musial in the 1950s-60s and was captured by the old uniforms and all black cleats with flaps. New Balance made a kid’s dream come true by making some all black spikes with the special tongue as well as the “Benny the Jet” P. F. Flyers cleats.”
I don’t think there’s any way the Royals would have won the World Series in 2015 without Zobrist. His cleats, inspired by The Sandlot, are a great way to make the game fun for all generations.
“Zobrist is not only a clutch player on the field, but he’s a really good guy off the field, too,” John said.
Whether announcing games or playing catch or making a living as a baseball player, approaching each day with the wonder and passion of a child is the secret passing on that love to the next generation.