|By Chris Maza
Joel McAuliffe shares the Szot Park press box with Chicopee City Historian Steve Jendrysik. McAuliffe recently tried out to be the next public address announcer at Fenway Park.
Reminder Publications submitted photo
CHICOPEE At some point in the life of almost every red-blooded, baseball-loving boy growing up in Massachusetts, the dream of appearing at Fenway Park has entered the mind.
But for Chicopee's Joel McAuliffe, that dream proved to be more than a passing fancy; it became a passion and a lifelong goal.
McAuliffe, a 2010 graduate of Chicopee Comprehensive High School, came one step closer to fulfilling his aspirations when he was among those selected to try out for the vacant Fenway Park public address announcer position on Jan. 23.
The Boston Red Sox have been looking for a full-time replacement for iconic Fenway Park announcer and Agawam native Carl Beane, who died in a car accident in 2012 after suffering a heart attack while driving.
"Fenway Park this season, aside from the product on the field, was missing something and I think everyone felt the same way," McAuliffe said.
A lifelong Red Sox fan who spent as long as he could remember idolizing Beane, McAuliffe said the moment was one he would never forget.
"It was a dream come true just to even be there. It was an honor," he said. "As someone who looked up to Carl and grew up going to games, I always wanted to be him. That was the ideal job. That was the dream job. That's what I always wanted to work toward. Just getting there, just being in the stadium, walking in there, knowing I was there for a reason was really special. The moment that I walked into that control room overlooking the field, it was surreal."
Anyone who has had the opportunity to watch a sporting event on Chicopee Schools Community Television has heard the play-by-play talents of McAuliffe, who has been serving in that capacity since 2009.
He has also worked as a producer and show host on WTCC, Springfield Technical Community College's radio station and jumps at any opportunity to flex his public address announcer muscles locally.
"Anytime I get a chance to do something, I take it so I can get as much experience as possible," he said.
Away from the microphone, he covers high school football on a freelance basis for The Republican and coaches, having served as an assistant junior varsity baseball coach at Chicopee Comp for the past two years and freshman basketball coach at Belchertown High School this season.
For McAuliffe, baseball has always been more than a pastime and he said that while he has tried to stay connected to the game through multiple means since his playing days ended, reaching people with his voice has remained his primary focus.
"As a kid, I knew I wasn't going to be a professional baseball player. I knew I didn't have the talent, but I knew I wanted to stay in the game in some way. Through that, I looked at journalism and coaching and umpiring as a way to stay in the game," he said. "For a long time, my goal has been to give something back to the game because the game has given me so much and I know Carl had a mentality like that as well."
Hard work and an enterprising spirit delivered McAuliffe this golden opportunity.
Upon hearing in June 2012 that the Red Sox organization would be hosting tryouts, he emailed people in the organization and eventually was pointed in the right direction.
After a number of emails and phone calls and a social media blitz on Twitter with the hashtag #MakeJoelRedSoxPA, he learned in early January that he would get his chance.
"I got a couple of phone calls from them over the course of the season and various emails and I campaigned hard through social media on Twitter and a YouTube video and demo tape of me doing the lineup gained some traction. It got over 2,000 views on YouTube," he said.
His tryout even yielded a brief appearance on the New England Sports Network's "Red Sox Report."
McAuliffe spoke with reverence of Beane, stating that his approach and voice were a perfect fit for the aura that surrounds Fenway Park.
"He never wanted to be bigger than the game. It's why he was so perfect for the job," he said. "When you walked into Fenway Park, the voice fit. It felt as if the park itself was speaking to you. It was really special."
McAuliffe went on to say that it was his goal to take the same approach.
"You have these basketball announcers that like to get people riled up, but this isn't about showmanship," he said. "You're there to relay the information, but do it in a way that is respectful and respects the image of the park. It calls for something special; it calls for something unique."
While he never had the opportunity to meet Beane personally, McAuliffe said he has felt a connection to him and that the former "Voice of Fenway Park" has had a strong influence on him.
"I never had the opportunity to meet Carl, but I knew some people who did and had a lot of conversations and was always very interested in his life because we were from the same area. Our backgrounds are really similar. He started out on WARE doing high school sports locally and that was my first gig," McAuliffe said.
Included in McAuliffe's approach to the tryout was the implementation of some of Beane's verbal trademarks.
"Carl did some things that I think have become a Fenway Park tradition that need to go on and say, like his seventh-inning 'strrrretch' or his pause when announcing the Yankees. It's things like that make Fenway Park, well, Fenway Park. It's what everybody growing up remembers," he said. "I'd like to continue that tradition of doing some of the things in tribute that Carl did and I would hope that future announcers would do the same thing. Those things have become a staple at the park and it's what makes it so great and it's something I'd like to continue on."
McAuliffe said he wasn't sure when he would hear about whether he won the job.
"This is the first time most of the people with the Red Sox have done something like this. There are only a couple of people left from Carl's tryout, which was done on a smaller scale than this one. They are kind of learning on the fly as to how they want to do this," he said. "I would assume they would like to have something in place by the halfway point of Spring Training, if not earlier."
He added that he was impressed with the amount of talent the Red Sox were able to bring in, but remained confident in his chances.
"I stayed and listened to quite a few people after my audition and there are a lot of great voices," he said. "What Fenway Park needs is a voice that fits Fenway Park, a voice that fits baseball and that's going to be a challenge for the Red Sox. I think I can bring that to the table."
Win or lose, McAuliffe said that he was humbled and thrilled by the experience.
"To sit in that chair was unbelievably special and I'll certainly never forget hearing my voice echo off the walls of the Green Monster and the park," he said. "If it never happens again, I will still be satisfied with having that opportunity, but I sure do hope it can happen at least 81 more times next year."
A copy of McAuliffe's tryout audio is available at http://soundcloud.com/joel_mcauliffe/joel-mcauliffe-fenway-public.
Comments From Our Readers:
Login to Post a Response