It's that time of the year when we take stock of the Oakland A's organization and analyze the top…
Bo Fulginiti: Voice of the Stockton Ports
The Georgia Southern alum has only been out of college for three years, but he has been working in radio since he was 17, when he was interning at radio stations in his native Philadelphia. He got into broadcasting while in college when he was interning with the Sand Gnats and he found his passion: minor league baseball.
"I got the bug to be an announcer in college and I haven't gotten over it since. Minor league baseball is the best because you get a chance to really get to know the players," Fulginiti said.
"Some guys will say that they would be content working in minor league baseball their entire careers, but you know that they really dream of being a big league announcer. For me, my ideal job would be working for a minor league club that could pay me enough to support a family. Minor league baseball is so unique because you get to meet these players in a much smaller setting."
Setting had a lot to do with why Fulginiti was drawn to the Stockton Ports' organization when Ports' Vice President Michael Swope, who was the GM of the Daytona Cubs in 2004 when Fulginiti was there, called to offer Fulginiti a chance to interview for the Ports' broadcast job. The Ports' new $22 million stadium, Banner Island Ballpark, was a huge attraction for Fulginiti.
"I haven't had a chance to see a game [at Banner Island Ballpark] yet, but I have an office in the press box overlooking the field and it is an absolutely gorgeous stadium," Fulginiti said.
Fulginiti also pointed to the Ports' organizational structure and the chance to see what the Oakland A's organization is all about as other reasons that he made the move out West.
"I felt in the interview that the Ports have a really good organizational plan in terms of how they want to divide up job responsibilities and a strong idea about what they want to do in 2006," Fulginiti said.
"I'm really also looking forward to seeing how the Oakland A's operate. You hear throughout baseball and from reading ‘Moneyball' about how the A's do things differently. The A's are just a special organization in that they are able to be so successful with limited resources. I'm excited to see how that works [from an organizational standpoint]."
Fulginiti leaves Florida with mixed emotions, as he has a lot of very fond memories of his time with the Daytona Cubs and the Chicago Cubs organization.
"Chicago Cubs fans were everywhere we went [in Florida]. I used to get calls and emails from fans in Chicago who were listening to the games through the internet. Some of them would travel down to Daytona on vacation specifically to catch a few Daytona Cubs' games every year," said Fulginiti.
"The passion of Cubs' fans was one of the biggest draws to working in Daytona."
There haven't been too many seasons of baseball like the 2004 campaign for the Daytona Cubs. On the field, it was one of the most successful years that the Florida State League affiliate has had in recent memory. The team was crowned league champion and five of their players were in the big leagues a mere one year later, an amazing feat for any Class-A team. However, it was Mother Nature that gave the Daytona Cubs' season its unique context.
Four hurricanes hit Florida that year. Hurricane Charley damaged the Cubs' nearly 100-year old stadium, Jackie Robinson Ballpark, forcing the Cubs to play their home games at a local college while they were chasing a spot in the playoffs. After a dramatic final-weekend sweep of the first-place team got the Cubs into the playoffs, they managed to knock off the Vero Beach Dodgers in the first round of the post-season to reach the championship series.
However, that series would never be played, as Hurricane Ivan roared into town and literally washed out any hopes of getting the games in. The Florida State League crowned the Cubs and the Tampa Yankees co-champions, ending a most unusual season. Despite the distractions, Fulginiti points to that season as his best year in broadcasting thus far.
The 2004 season was also special on a personal level for Fulginiti. As a Philadelphia native, Fulginiti grew up as a Phillies fan and his hero in broadcasting was Harry Callis, the legendary voice of the Phillies. In 2004, the Florida State League All-Star game was in Clearwater, home of the Phillies FSL affiliate. Fulginiti was tabbed to announce that game alongside Phillies radio color man (and Callis' partner) Larry Anderson.
"Being in ‘Harry's chair', so to speak, for that game was an absolute thrill," Fulginiti said.
During Fulginiti's time with the Daytona Cubs, he got to meet a number of players who have either made their way to the big leagues or are on the fast-track to the "show". One of those players was Cubs' outfielder Adam Greenberg, who had the fortune of being called up to the big leagues in 2005 only one year removed from being in Single-A, and the misfortune of having his only plate appearance in the big leagues end with a beaning to the head courtesy of Florida Marlins' reliever Valerio de los Santos. Greenberg missed a lot of time subsequent to the beaning recovering from post-concussion syndrome and has yet to make it back to the big leagues. However, that he realized his dream of making the big leagues was something that Fulginiti was excited about.
"Adam Greenberg is just a special guy. He's only 5'9'' and he isn't particularly fast, but there is just something unidentifiable about him that makes him a baseball player, kind of like Craig Counsell and guys like that," Fulginiti said.
"It's not always that good things happen to good people, so I was thrilled when all of his hard work paid off and he was called up to the big leagues."
Besides Greenberg, Matt Murton, Andy Sisco, Rich Hill and Ryan Theriot were the other four players who made the leap from the Daytona Cubs to a major league roster in less than a year's time. However, it was another player on that team whom Fulginiti points to as the most likely to be a super-star: outfielder Felix Pie. Pie, whom the A's have faced numerous times in spring training, has struggled with injuries but is one of the Cubs' top prospects.
"I can tell he is going to be great if he can stay healthy. There are always those guys who were super-talented but couldn't stay healthy, so I hope that he isn't one of those guys. But he can hit with power and he runs incredibly fast," Fulginiti said.
"According to his coaches, he needs to work on his discipline on the basepaths and on his routes in the outfield, but if he can improve those areas, I think he'll be playing center in Wrigley in a few years. I think he has a chance to be a super-star."
Fugliniti is looking forward to meeting the next Oakland A's super-stars when the Ports' season opens next April. In the meantime, he will be spending the off-season working on corporate sponsorships and handling the media relations for the Ports. And, of course, getting acclimated to the West Coast.
Information about the Stockton Ports' 2006 broadcast schedule will be available through the Ports website at: stocktonports.com.
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