What they were saying about the Greensboro Grasshoppers and Greensboro Sports last year at Minor League Baseball.com(milb.com).
I discovered this last week while flying through google in a site search for more info on one of our sports stories. The piece by Tim Britton ran on May 30, 2008.
Funny I had heard it was out there somewhere, but never knew the article really exsisted until last week, ironically the last week of the year.
Grasshoppers broadcaster busy as a bee
Andy Durham has turned his life’s passion into a full-time career
Andy Durham knows you don’t believe him when he says it. After all, the Greensboro Grasshoppers’ radio broadcaster speaks with that old Carolina rhythm, clauses and ideas running up one after another, a deeper tone to provide the proper emphasis when needed, his passion and knowledge of sports rushing out of his mouth.
But he says it anyway.
“I don’t talk much during the day. Believe it or not, I’m a quiet person during the day,” Durham said. “And then when game time comes around, when you hit that first button, then boom.”
Durham was added to the Greensboro broadcasts in the mid-1990s as a part-time color commentator and fill-in before taking the reins full-time in 2004. But he’s been a radio broadcaster — from calling high-school sports to hosting a sports talk show — since 1986.
Broadcasting games, however, didn’t always look like Durham’s calling. While working as a teacher, he entered the sporting world on the low end of the totem pole with some part-time public address announcing. He began writing sports for weekly publications before landing his own radio show.
The then-Greensboro Bats hired him to boost ratings by bringing his personality into the booth as an analyst. But it wasn’t long before he recognized that in order to survive, he had to be a little more versatile.
“You can’t make it in this business just doing color commentary, so I had to learn how to do the play-by-play,” Durham said. “Doing a sports talk show, you’re pretty much flying off the cuff sometimes. You’ve got your topics and your ideas of what you’re going to cover that day. Doing [play-by-play] … you’ve got to be tighter, much more formatted.”
Play-by-play is now a full-time, year-round job for Durham. His schedule moves briskly from Grasshoppers games to high-school football in the fall, basketball in the winter and back to baseball in the spring. And don’t forget Greensborosports.com, the website for which he’s the founding editor and lead writer. Or the advertising he still sells for the radio station.
But all that — and an absence of vacation time — is fine with Durham, a lifelong sports fanatic. “You get in that routine and you find that comfort zone,” he said. “This is good for me, because I do what I want to do, and I do it year-round.”
But which sport is the toughest to call? For Durham, it’s no contest.
“Baseball has got some dead spots as far as the flow of the action,” he said. “You’ve got to be better prepared for baseball than any other sport. You’ve got to have the batting average, you’ve got to have the numbers, you’ve got to know what that guy did last at-bat. That’s why that scorebook is almost like a script in some ways, because that’s all your details in that book.”
Calling games year-round doesn’t pose a problem to Durham’s voice, as he’s never lost it during a broadcast. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been affected by the scourge of the radio announcer: the common cold.
“If you ever get a cold, oh you’re in trouble,” Durham said. “You feel that cold coming on, you start panicking and worrying. … You’ve got to pace yourself.” Durham’s been lucky so far in 2008. He usually gets two colds a season — one in the spring, another later in the summer. He’s had a clean bill of health so far, knock on wood.
When he is at full-strength in the booth, Durham employs his own home run call — a drawn-out “It’s long gone!” he developed just in case he ever got a chance to do play-by-play. He deepens his voice for his “straight up” call on a pop-up or during the game’s more pressure-packed moments. He also loves to work in rhymes whenever possible, his voice metrically mellifluous as he sets the scene for the sport’s drama.
Maybe it’s not all that surprising, then, when he lists Dick Vitale and the late Jim Valvano — two basketball analysts — as broadcasting role models for their energy during the broadcast.
Durham brings that same energy to NewBridge Bank Park every night. A “detail guy,” Durham likes to arrive at the stadium about two hours before the first pitch to do some paperwork, interview Greensboro manager Edwin Rodriguez and host the pregame show. That preparation is all worth it — as long as the Grasshoppers win.
“Winning, it’s all about winning,” Durham said. “If you win a ballgame at this level, it’s like a reward for all the work you did. If you do all that paperwork, keep up with all those stats and numbers, and you win the game, it’s like you were actually involved in the game.”
Durham embraces his superstitions, even admitting that he’ll go to the same store and buy the same water on a road trip if the team is winning. It makes him sound like your everyday sports fanatic, and in many ways, that’s exactly what he is.
“Every day’s like a game,” he said.
Well, as long as Greensboro wins.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.