Aaron Goldsmith, the Mariners' new radio voice, found parts of his debut broadcast on Friday "pretty surreal."
PEORIA, Ariz. — Aaron Goldsmith’s “Welcome to the Big Leagues” moment came well before the bottom of the second inning ended, the Mariners broadcast went to commercial, and producer/engineer Kevin Cremin turned to Goldsmith and said, “It’s all yours.”
It came well before the commercial ended and the top of the third began — the first of three innings earmarked for Goldsmith to take the lead role in his major-league broadcasting debut on Friday. It wasn’t even when Rick Rizzs threw it to him with the simple, yet profoundly overwhelming words, “Now for the play by play, here’s Aaron Goldsmith.”
Those were heady moments during what Goldsmith later called “the most exciting spring training game I’ll ever call.”
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So was calling action involving established major leaguers like Raul Ibanez, rather than the minor-leaguers he described last year in Pawtucket, R.I. Goldsmith noted afterward that he was so used to describing teams as “the Triple-A affiliate” of their organization that he had to stop himself Friday.
“Here, I’m just saying, the Padres. The Mariners,” he marveled. “It took me about an inning. It’s not ‘the affiliate of.’ This is the team. It was pretty surreal.”
But the reality of Goldsmith’s meteoric rise from calling the games of the independent Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, Ill., in 2007 to being one of the voices of the Seattle Mariners in 2013 — at age 29 — hit him fully about an hour before the broadcast.
That’s when Cremin (in his 31st season in the Mariners’ booth) played for Goldsmith a sneak preview of the open for Saturday’s broadcast on 710 ESPN. Specifically, the introduction of the Mariners’ crew by the legendary ESPN voice-over specialist; if you watch the station at all, you know exactly who I’m talking about, aptly described by Goldsmith as “the guy with the huge pipes.”
“He said something like, ‘Now to the booth, here’s Aaron Goldsmith.’ When I heard that guy say my name — it was just me and Kevin — I said, ‘What? That guy said my name! He’s the greatest voice-over guy in the history of anything.’
“I said to Kevin, ‘It just happened.’ I kind of wondered when will this sink in. When I heard that guy say my name, I said, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ “
A new baseball announcer is unveiled with nearly as much anticipation as a touted young prospect. Maybe more, because hardcore fans are going to spend virtually every day with this person for the next seven-plus months.
Goldsmith knows that the curiosity factor, and the attendant scrutiny of his calls, will be out in full force as he works spring games and transitions into the season.
So is Rizzs, who also was once a 29-year-old Mariners rookie broadcaster coming up from the minors. Rizzs, now in his 28th season with the Mariners, is trying to serve the same calming role that someone once did for him way back in 1983.
“If I can take away some of that edge,” Rizzs said, “and make him feel more relaxed and comfortable, I’m just doing what Dave Niehaus did for me all those years ago.”
Goldsmith had a dream two nights ago in which Rizzs introduced him for his play-by-play stint, and he froze. His mouth turned to mush and the words came out incoherently.
“He threw it to me, and I had no idea what to say,” Goldsmith said. “I literally had no clue. I woke up in the morning and said, ‘What a terrible feeling.’ “
Happily, reality had no resemblance to that anxiety-fueled nightmare. I put on a set of headphones in the back of the Peoria booth and listened as Goldsmith smoothly and adeptly conveyed the third inning. It was a fortuitously quick frame that stood in stark contrast to Rizzs’s burden of working the 12-batter top of the first.
“There’s nothing like having a quick 1-2-3 inning to get out of things,” Goldsmith said. “It was a perfect way to start.”
After the inning ended, Rizzs took off his headsets and joked to Goldsmith, “You broadcast fast, baby.”
After the Mariners’ 9-3 loss to the Padres was over and the postgame show completed, Goldsmith appeared almost giddy.
“I’m happy it’s over. I can reflect on it now,” he said. “When you’re in it, you’re racing through it and it’s tough to take the blinders off. It’s really easy to have fun when you’re with these two guys (Rizzs and Cremin), and if I’m having fun, I’m going to do a pretty good broadcast. That’s what today was about.”
Rizzs’ final words to Goldsmith before Game 1 went off the air: “Hey, we’ll do it again tomorrow.”
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org