By Shannon Drayer
Aaron Goldsmith received the phone call that every minor-league broadcaster dreams of. He had been hired as a radio play-by-play announcer for a Major League team. His journey from Sauget, Ill. to Portland, Maine to Cape Cod, Mass. to Frisco, Texas and finally Pawtucket, R.I. landed him in the broadcast booth at Safeco Field.
“I can’t be any more thankful or excited to be coming out here,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “It is a dream come true.”
A dream that was a little late in developing.
“Unfortunately my story of how I got into baseball play-by-play is not nearly as romantic as most,” he said when asked what led him to pursue broadcasting.
“Most guys know they want to do this for a living since they were 6 years old and their dad took them to a ballgame, but I had no intention of doing this at all.”
Goldsmith, who is from St. Louis, Mo., pursued a history degree at Principia College in Elsah, Ill. About a month before graduation he woke up one morning with the idea that being on the radio seemed like it might be a fun thing to do.
It was obviously too late to change majors so he enrolled at The Broadcast Center, a professional broadcast school in St. Louis.
“It was a school for DJs,” Goldsmith recounted. “I knew nothing about radio so I had to start someplace.”
He attended classes during the day and worked retail at night to support his endeavor. Upon graduation of the 10-month program he earned his first play-by-play internship with the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget.
“I got paid 70 bucks a month and did two innings of play-by-play,” he remembered. “Home games only and that is what got me started. I got hooked right then.”
Hooked on play-by-play. Goldsmith had been hooked on baseball for years. Spending his earliest years in Wichita, Kan., the first team that caught his interest was the Royals. He attended his first game at Kaufman Stadium and counted Bo Jackson, George Brett and Bret Saberhagen as some of his favorite players as a child.
When his family moved to St. Louis he shifted his allegiance to the Cardinals.
He grew up going to games at Busch Stadium, a place so special he was inspired to buy two seats that now sit in his house from the park before it was demolished.
“St. Louis is a terrific baseball town and they have turned out a lot of great broadcasters along the way as well,” he noted.
“Jack Buck was such an influence on St. Louis,” he continued. “I remember listening to him, going to his memorial service at old Busch Stadium. I know how much Dave Niehaus means to Seattle as best as I can. The only thing I can liken it to is what Jack Buck means to St. Louis. Mr. Niehaus very well could mean even more to Mariners fans than Jack Buck does to Cardinals fans.”
I asked what it was that attracted him to radio.
“I know the type of relationship that a radio broadcaster can have with the fan base if done successfully and done the right way,” he said. “The intimacy on radio, of course, is like nothing else. That steady voice that is there every single night for at least 162 nights a year is something that I think virtually any broadcaster of any sport strives to be. To be partnered with a guy like Rick Rizzs, who I know has been there for such a long time and has been such a steady voice for Mariners fans to lean on, it’s going to be a real thrill for me to be able to work alongside him.
“Hopefully I will augment the broadcast any way I can but really more than anything else, selfishly to learn from Rick because he has been doing this at a high level for a very long time and to have that type of mentorship is something I really look forward to experiencing and I embrace wholeheartedly because it’s something I will really benefit from, I know.”
That will be Goldsmith’s life in the booth. Outside of the booth there is plenty to be done. He and his wife Heather plan to make Seattle their permanent home. He sees Seattle and the Mariners as a perfect fit for them.
“Once I had experienced what it was like being at the ballpark, being with the guys, learning the type of family atmosphere that is there, I can tell you even though I haven’t spent time with the other 29 big league teams, you are not going to find that everywhere,” he said. “And it is that type of family environment that I am so attracted to, that my wife and I are attracted to. That we want to really set down some roots. We see Seattle and the Mariners organization as just the perfect place for us. We know that at one point in the future we want to start a family and really be a part of a good community and we could tell that this is a good community, a great community, not just at Safeco but outside as well.”
To wrap up the interview I did a quick round of rapid-fire questions that Goldsmith was more than happy to answer.
Shannon Drayer: First event that pops into your head when I say “greatest moment in sports history.”
Aaron Goldsmith: When the Cards were down to their final strike twice against the Rangers in the World Series. Maybe because it is freshest in my mind, but as a kid who grew up in St. Louis, I was on the edge of my seat. Like nothing we will probably see again. That was the best as far as from a personal standpoint.
SD: Best place to eat on the road.
AG: There is a barbecue joint in Rochester, N.Y. that is called Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which is pretty killer. They have got plenty of food to keep you fed for a whole four-game series. But I am a huge seafood guy so I can’t wait to dig into some seafood in Seattle.
SD: Snow or beach vacation?
AG: My wife would say a beach vacation but I would almost lean toward a snow vacation. But can I confess something? I have never done either. I need to.
SD: What are you listening to in your car right now?
AG: The third CD that John Mayer came out with is in my car right now.
SD: Last book you read.
AG: “Bottom of the 33rd.” It is all about the longest game in the history of baseball that was played right here at McCoy Stadium between the Pawsox and Rochester Redwings.
SD: Longest game he has broadcast?
AG: I have done a 15-inning game twice, once solo and that was brutal.
SD: What would your perfect day off involve?
AG: Perfect off day would probably involve a little bit of a sleep in, a leisurely lunch then get the heck out of the house. Go have a nice dinner someplace and try to act like a normal person who doesn’t call baseball games almost every night of the spring summer and fall. Laughs.