As a young baseball fan back in the late 1950s, I would crawl under the covers at night with my Emerson transistor radio and listen to baseball games. A good play-by-play announcer would make me feel as if I was sitting at Ebbets Field, Yankee Stadium or the Polo Grounds, eating hot dogs and peanuts.
Recently my wife, Jean, and I went to a Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League game at Cochran Park in Peconic and had a most pleasant surprise. As Jean and I were setting up our chairs along the third-base line, a good-looking, tall, polite, young man approached us. “Excuse me folks, but I’m going to be broadcasting today’s game and don’t want to disturb you.” He had nice voice, so we told him listening to his broadcast of the game would be great.
Sitting at a small table 10 feet in back of us with his smart phone, ear buds and meticulously prepared game notes, 18-year-old Emmanuel Berbari began his internet broadcast. “It’s a gorgeous summer afternoon here at Cochran Park in Peconic. A great day for a ball game.” We could have been blindfolded for the rest of the game and would have known from Emmanuel’s colorful, accurate, and professional beyond-his-years commentary everything that was taking place on the field, right down to the color of the teams’ uniforms.
That evening Jean and I were chatting about how much we enjoyed the game and listening to Emmanuel’s play-by-play, agreeing this young man would have a future in broadcasting. I had an opportunity to spend some time with Emmanuel.
JD: How did you first become interested and involved in broadcasting?
EB: I was cut from my high school [Harborfields] basketball team in my freshman year. That winter a classmate was launching a start-up, live-stream production project at school and asked me to become involved. I announced a basketball game and wasn’t very good, but something clicked. I knew I wanted to become a play-by-play announcer. If I had made the basketball team I probably would have never become involved in broadcasting.
JD: What have you done to improve yourself as a play-by-play announcer?
EB: The summer after my freshman year I attended a sports broadcasting camp at Chaminade High School run by Patrick Reichart, who works in the production departments for the Mets and Yankees. Mr. Reichart has become my mentor and connected me with many people in the field. I replay and listen to my broadcasts critiquing myself and I send out clips to my support team for their input and take their advice very seriously. Last year in high school I broadcast football, soccer, basketball and baseball. In addition to announcing for the Hamptons League this summer I am doing a live call-in show at SUNY/Old Westbury and do podcasts for Elite Sports NY.
JD: The file folder with stats and information that you use during the game is amazing. How do you research and put this together for each game?
EB: These are called boards and have been used forever by broadcasters. Each broadcaster has their own unique way of organizing their boards. All of my notes are handwritten the night before. It normally takes me about two hours to write down the rosters, players’ numbers, positions, hometowns, height and weight, college, and current stats.
JD: Next year you will be entering your freshman year at Fordham University, which has an impressive list of alumni in the broadcasting field, namely the legendary Vin Scully, Sal Marchiano, Michael Kay and Ryan Ruocco, among others. What would you like to accomplish at WFUV over the next four years?
EB: To become one of the more relied upon broadcasters at the station. I hope to gain a few crucial internships and look forward to traveling around the country with our teams. I will also get to cover some of the local professional teams, which will be a great experience and opportunity to make media contacts.
JD: What are your career goals?
EB: I would love to go to work for a major network, which is really not feasible right out of college, but I always set my goals high. I would like to do baseball and basketball, but will settle for whatever comes my way. I love radio and find it a privilege to create as an artist an image for my listeners serving as their eyes and ears.
JD: Where would you like to be in the prime of your career?
EM: I would love to have a great relationship and a home with one network, to have a stable job, and a family. I would like to “pass it down” the way others have with me, helping young broadcasters get to where they want to be.
Photo caption: Emmanuel Berbari, 18, has brought his passion for broadcasting to the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League. (Credit: Jay Dempsey)