April 12th, 2012

Meet the Press

With Opening Day upon us, Dr Pepper Ballpark and the RoughRiders have a new voice, and a great cast of supporting characters.

They thought it would be a good idea to get to know the people that you hear over the airways, tweet you back and bring mass amounts of ‘Riders information out to the masses.

ALEX VISPOLI —Manager of Broadcasting and Media Development

I like going to baseball games.

That seems pretty obvious considering my line of work, but I probably like them a little more than I should.

When you are present at 140 baseball games over a 152-day period, you cherish those 12 precious off-days like every bite of an expensive Texas steak.  Most of the time, you try to find a level of normalcy that evades you when seemingly half of your life is spent on a bus and the other half at a baseball game.  Whether that time is spent catching a movie   or just milling about Barnes & Noble, the point is to get away from the sport that takes over your life for five months at a time during the year.

There have been a few instances where I must have missed that memo.  One July, the team I was broadcasting for in Winston-Salem, North Carolina was wrapping up a four-week stretch of games without a day off with another one on the near horizon.  Instead of using that glorious off-day to find some semblance of a normal life, I called another baseball game.

A friend of mine is the Syracuse radio broadcaster and his team was in nearby Charlotte.  He invited me down to call the game with him and, because I like going to baseball games, I said yes and drove two hours down to Fort Mill, South Carolina (because the Charlotte Knights don’t actually play in Charlotte or in North Carolina for that matter) with my scorebook and collection of colored pens and highlighters (don’t worry, we’ll touch on that later this season) in tow.

I have been called somewhat insane for using an off-day to broadcast a baseball game and for how I have spent my All-Star break over the past two years.  Instead of getting away from baseball for three days, I visited Citi Field in New York to take in a couple of Mets games with some family (and no, I am not a Mets fan, thank goodness).

There’s just something about the atmosphere of a baseball game that I enjoy.  From the competition on the field to the sights and sounds of a ballpark that just seem right to me.  I am at peace when sitting or standing in the broadcast booth talking baseball.  They say that a bad day at the ballpark beats a good day at the office, and I can’t help but agree with the cliché.

So now that you are aware of my baseball-obsessive tendencies, time for an introduction to the person behind the voice you will be hearing from for the next five months on the radio/television/internet.

Me and my brother, young Kevin Vispoli, at a Mets game in 2010.

I am originally from Andover, Massachusetts and grew up going to Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics games (while I rooted for the Bruins, they were the red-headed stepchild of my favorite childhood sports teams).  This season will be my sixth broadcasting affiliated minor league baseball, as I have also worked for the Salem Avalanche (2007, Astros Advanced-A), Lynchburg Hillcats (2008, Pirates Advanced-A), Dayton Dragons (2009, Reds Single-A) and Winston-Salem Dash (2010-2011, White Sox Advanced-A).

I saw Elvis Andrus as an 18-year-old in the Carolina League with the Braves organization and am looking forward to following 19-year-old Jurickson Profar this season for the ’Riders.  There’s a nice pseudo-symmetry to that, something you often get when you go to a baseball game.

Take my word for it, I’ve been to plenty.

GEOFF ARNOLD — Media Relations Administrator

If you ask a lot of broadcasters, most will say they knew from age 10 it’s exactly what they wanted to do. That they wanted to be the next Marv Albert, or Al Michaels, or Harry Kalas-I’m from Philadelphia so he is automatically included-but the reality is…I didn’t.
I always loved sports, particularily baseball, but the way I always planned to launch my post-college career was through doing something most people would NEVER EVER EVER DO. Did I mention most people would NEVER want this job? And hence begins one of the most unusual “I knew I wanted to broadcast when” stories that you’ve ever heard in your life.
When I was probably four or five, I went to my first Phillies game. It was the days of  John Kruk-pre-ESPN-Lenny Dykstra-pre-grand theft auto-and Darren Daulton-pre-everything. They were hoot. A bunch of beer-leaguers in the big leagues. I loved watching them. But I also was fascinated by four guys in blue on the field. The umpires.
Shocked yet?
They were screamed at, spit on, called things that can’t be recorded on this post. In short, they were garbage.
Not the way little Geoffrey saw it. They got the best seat in the house, enforced the rules, worked next to future hall of famers, and got to go to some REALLY COOL places.
So I set my sails, and gradually picked up wind as I got older. By the time I was in college, I was umpiring college baseball. The money was great, and it didn’t even feel like work!
Some of my peers told me, “Maybe you should do this for a living”, “I wish I was as good as you when I was your age”, “Try and go pro! You’re young!”

Geoff behind the plate.

So I listened. And I did. After making it through professional umpire school in January 2011, and the professional evaluation course, I got the call I’d always dreamed of: to start my journey to the majors. Except it wasn’t that much fun. The travel was brutal-and you drive yourself- you worked every day, you ate out all the time, and when things like college reunions, family vacations, and other get-togethers came up? You were stuck. Oh and did I mention someone will always yell at you?
So midway through the summer, I started looking at other options. I was a sports broadcaster in college, and loved calling play-by-play. But like trying to become a minor league umpire, it’s very hard to get started. But it didn’t stop me. I worked, and worked, and worked. And eventually someone took a chance and gave me an opportunity. I think you will agree, its’s a pretty good one.
So if you see me around the yard-a lot of umpires refer to the ballpark this way, and I still do-at your local Jason’s Deli-convenient and delicious- or about Frisco….stop by and say hello. And if you forget my name? No worries. “Blue” will do just fine.
JARAH WRIGHT — Media Relations Intern
Jarah Wright joined the RoughRiders in October of 2011.

Jarah is a senior broadcast journalism major at the University of North Texas where she also serves as an executive board member for the Sports Marketing Association.

She graduated from Tyler Junior College with a journalism degree in May of 2011. During her time at TJC, she was an editor/reporter for the student newspaper winning awards in sports reporting and sports photography for her coverage of the baseball team.

Jarah is no stranger to baseball and softball fields playing competitively for 13 years and umpiring for 3 years with the Texas Association of Sports Officials.

Originally from Tyler, Texas, Jarah enjoys going to different sporting events, playing music, and spending time with friends and family.

MICHAEL DAMMAN — Media Relations Intern

My first baseball game in person came in Omaha, Nebraska in the College World Series.

My love for the game grew when my family moved back to St. Louis, MO, where I was born. While many boys grow up wanting to be a player in the major leagues, I actually grew up wanting to be the General Manager of a Major League baseball team. From going to Cardinals games in St. Louis to working for the Frisco RoughRiders, I have always known that I wanted to be involved with baseball as a career.

I have worked for the ‘Riders since 2005, when I started as a bat boy. I have worked in the press box of the club since late 2005. I took it a step farther by starting a blog last season for the team, http://chatterfromthepressbox.blogspot.com.  This year I am a Media Relations intern and will help contribute weekly to the Riders Insider blog. I have been around for nearly all of the RoughRider’s existence and have enjoyed seeing players like Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, and many others come through Frisco and go on to have success at the big league level.

I look forward to helping out the Media department more in 2012 and to help bring ‘Riders coverage to the millions of Frisco RoughRiders fans out there in the world.

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