Dodger Chatter or “DC” as we call him wants to do a blog on each Dodger minor league play-by-play announcer. This is the first! Enjoy!
The heart and soul of baseball – minor league baseball – kicked off another season on Thursday, April 5. Four Dodger affiliates were scheduled for action with the Oklahoma City Dodgers playing a double header due to a cancellation of their game on Sunday because of an impending storm. Right-hander Walker Buehler threw the first pitch of the Dodgers minor league season inducing a routine ground ball to second base in the bottom of the first inning.
I watched outfielder Andrew Toles, on MiLb.TV, lace a double on the very first pitch of the season in the top of the first inning. However, I listened to that play and the ensuing plays on the Oklahoma City Dodgers flagship station 1340 AM The Game with play-by-play announcer Alex Freedman. On away games I always use the radio audio for the Dodger affiliates while watching MiLB.TV.
That got me thinking a bit about the various voices of those Dodgers minor league affiliates, all of whom are returning for another season.
Their work schedule seems to be as demanding as that of the players, certainly in time commitment. They arrive at the park early, leave late after game reviews, and travel in the same manner as the players which at the lower levels is exclusively by bus.
All of these announcers have game day notes to prepare and study in preparation for the broadcast. One only has to listen to the data, anecdotes and other player information to realize they indeed do their homework.
Alex Freedman is beginning his fourth season as the voice of the Oklahoma City Dodgers. He has 10-years of professional broadcasting experience, working with the Oklahoma franchise since 2012, first with the RedHawks and since 2015 with the Dodgers.
He calls games for Oklahoma City, but his job doesn’t end there. As Director of Communications and Broadcasting, he has to deal with outside media requests, photo requests, provide information for writers, coordinate transaction information, and write the daily game notes.
His job description on the OKC official site includes the following:
- Broadcast all 144 games on 1340 The Game (KGHM-AM). In addition to doing all play-by-play, host 30-minute pre-game show and 15-minute post-game show.
- Write daily game notes and game recaps. Write press releases and promote special events to local media.
- Coordinate all interview requests with both local and national media.
- Provide all baseball-related material for okcdodgers.com.
- Help maintain and provide content for team social media. Make speaking engagements throughout the local community to raise awareness of the team and its core values.
- Oversee department’s yearly budget. Responsible for maintaining press box staff.
His typical work day is often more than a 12-hour day. For a regularly scheduled game at 7:00 P.M. Freedman’s day usually starts at around 10:30 A.M. As early as 3:00 P.M. in the afternoon be begins to concentrate solely on that night’s broadcast. At times that must be taxing with the other duties he performs on behalf of the team and unexpected issues come up.
Freedman speaks freely about his preparation for games and of his love and appreciation for the work he does.
“Writing the game notes helps out immensely,” Freedman notes. “Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but pretty much my preparation, outside of writing things in my scorebook, is done by that point just from writing the game notes.
“Even as crazy and hectic as my schedule is for six months out of the year, it’s hard for me to imagine not being at a ballpark every single day.”
Although he is never at a loss for words to describe any situation, especially the unusual that he might never have seen before, he does not have a signature call and does not even try to pattern himself after other more seasoned play-by-play announcers.
“If you start thinking about that stuff, you’re setting yourself up for failure,” Freedman said. “If you’re thinking so much about what you want to say, you don’t really get out what you want to do. It doesn’t end up working out in the end.”
He also keeps his job in perspective relative to what the players are doing on the field.
“I tell people I’m just talking,” Freedman said. “I’m not someone who has to step in the batter’s box and try and react to a 95 mile per hour fastball. It really gives you an appreciation of what the players do given those circumstances.”
A native of St. Louis, Freedman attended Northwestern University and graduated with degrees in journalism and political science. Not sure what he would do upon graduation in 2006, it seems he has definitely found his calling, so to speak. Now just 33, he has aspirations to work at the MLB level one day.
To add to his resume he can include the “Best Play-By-Play” award presented by the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters for both the 2013 and 2014 seasons in the PCL.
“The competition encourages the highest standards of reporting, programming, and promotion. It is designed to stimulate a desire for excellence among Oklahoma broadcasters in serving their public.”
Alex Freedman provided the play-by-play for the award, while his sidekick John Zondlo was the in-studio producer and engineer. Just as the game on the field is a team effort, so too is the game in the booth.
“It’s pretty special to win this award for the second straight year, and it wouldn’t be possible without the help and support of several people,” Freedman said. “Each night we strive to put together the best broadcast we can, and we’re honored to have our efforts recognized.”
The games have begun and the effort to put together the best broadcast possible has also begun. Tune in to Alex Freedman, the voice of the OKC Dodgers, on 1340 AM The Game, or watch on MiLB.TV.
Photo By Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman
Dodger Rants and Raves by Mark Timmons
- To me, it looks like Kenley Jansen just “Flipped the Switch” or “Jumped the Shark” and it seems that he is back to near normal and not mere mortal!
- Yasmani Grandal has not given up a passed ball or wild pitch through 8 games. He worked hard to improve that and so far he has done just that.
- There’s not enough time into this season to make any determinations and one thing I certainly appreciate is that most of the posters here understand you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. On other blogs the lunatics are calling for FAZ’s head, Roberts to be fired, Kike waived, Bellinger and Seager sent to AAA (not kidding), Kemp released, Grandal deported and Taylor moved to 2B. I appreciate you smart guys and gals who know what happens in a long season. By the end of April, some patterns may emerge, but that’s just the start.
- Dodgers are 4th in pitching and 27th in hitting. They are 13th in fielding. Here’s why I am not worried: The Dodgers (for the most part) have had good at bats. In many key instances, they have hit the ball “on the screws” but right at someone. Those are the things that try men’s souls… and they even out!
- I happen to believe that Clayton Kershaw is becoming a better pitcher and could have his best year ever in 2018.
- When will they break out of their funk? Is Ryu ready to pitch for his next contract?
- By the way: A-Gon hit a grand slam Sunday. Good for him. I hope he does well!
Takeaways From AT & T Park
- I was at the game Sunday at AT & T Park, and after watching Chris Taylor take away two extra-base hits in the gaps at AT &T Park, I realize that he belongs in CF and is in fact, becoming one of the best Center fielders in baseball. He saved two runs for certain. He is becoming elite. You don’t move an elite defender like that… unless he is not hitting.
- Corey’s elbow look fine to me. I watched him AFTER he made throws (that’s where you can see if there is an issue) and he was not rubbing or shaking his arm in any fashion. He’s still outta’ sync at the plate, but all he needs is some time.
- As a team, these guys are together. Even Matt Kemp is part of the clan now. After watching him run, warm up and just his general activity, he appears to be running with ease. I still remain convinced that he can have a BIG year. His defense has certainly improved.
- Final Takeaway: The Giants Fans love their Giants, but as much as they love their team, they love beating the Dodgers more. That means we still control them. We are their existence!