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In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

On a recent Sunday I had the rare privilege of doing something I've wanted to do for years. I sat behind my oldest son Kevin as he worked as technical director for the TV broadcast of a Texas Rangers baseball game.

We got to The Ballpark At Arlington at 9:30 AM for a 2 PM game. A light rain was falling. We went to a huge trailer filled with millions of dollars worth of equipment. Miles and miles of cables were attached to the trailer to transmit the images and sound from cameras and microphones on the field.

The trailer is divided into compartments: one for audio, one for tv, one for videotaping and one I never did figure out what went on there. Perhaps it was to make sure the broadcast got to networks and stations.

Kevin started pushing buttons and flipping switches, making sure all the pre-broadcast duties were completed. He checked promotional pieces, small visual and audio clips that are played during the game, checked the eight cameras on the field to make sure they were sending pictures to the trailer and dozens of other things.

The 20-member crew started to arrive and I sensed immediately the respect that each person has for co-workers.

We had lunch in the press room area where I got acquainted with crew members while dining on Mexican food. I proudly displayed my TV crew badge.

We got back to the trailer around 1 PM and settled down to do the game. I went over to the audio room and met Toast, who makes sure the broadcast has sound. He operates a 64 channel console and a unique box that has hundreds of sound effects.

Everybody wears headsets that are filled with chatter from the broadcast booth, cameramen, a sound assist man, the tape room and a few other sources.

As the countdown to the game was in progress, everyone was poised to do his or her job. Director Dave Burchett, watching the eight TV screens in front of him, raises his hands like a symphony orchestra conductor and points to each one, telling Kevin "ready on three, take three, take one, show eight" and so forth. Kevin is the one who puts on the screen what viewers see.

I witnessed a high degree of professionalism. And it was done with a sense of humor. Everything is split-second. The screen portrays what is going on all over the field and in the stands. Every minute I spent with the crew was fascinating. And not all the excitement was in the trailer.

Rain had fallen during most of the game, which turned out to be a long one. It was still going on at 6 PM. The crew, the fans and the players were ready for this one to be over.

In the bottom of the 9th the game was tied 10 to 10. Everyone was concerned that there might be a rain delay or extra innings. The Rangers had a man on base when Diaz got up to bat. He hit eleven foul balls in a row. On the twelfth pitch, he hit a ball that bounced off the back wall. The runner touched home, the game was over and the Rangers won. Wow. What a day!

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