Q&A with A's Broadcaster Vince Cotroneo, P. 2

Senior Editor
Posted Jan 24, 2006


In the second part of our interview with A’s broadcaster Vince Cotroneo, we discuss how he prepares for a game, what his style is as a broadcaster and his feelings for Bill King.

Part Two

OC: What is your daily routine as you prepare for a particular game?

Cotroneo: It has all changed so much literally because of the computer. You can gather so much information from the computer. For me, my typical day was to gather all of the boxscores for the different games around the league into my own day-by-day log. Then I would read the stories about my team, read all of the opponent’s stories and the general stuff from that day in baseball and jot some notes down because you’ve got three hours to fill and it isn’t always about balls and strikes.

Not every game is going to be so riveting that people are going to be on the edge of their seats for the entire game. You need something to talk about for that 8-1 game in the fourth inning to keep people involved and to keep yourself involved. That’s what I love so much about broadcasting, bringing up different subjects for different times and having some fun talking about a variety of baseball subjects.

So that is how the morning is, you gather all of that information and get your notes down. Then, at least at home, I’m at the ballpark no later then when the clubhouse opens. And then you talk to the players about what went on the night before. When people are listening to you about the events from the previous evening, they are counting on you to be the conduit into the clubhouse. The previous night, Ken, Ray and I may have talked about a particular situation and we may think we have a good idea of what went on in the situation, but the next day, we want to make sure we really know what was going on in the player’s mind when it happened.

OC: Have you guys discussed how you are going to break-up the pre-game and post-game responsibilities?

Cotroneo: I think that Ken will do the “Ken Macha Show”, Ken and Ray will do the behind the plate show, which has been well received, and I think I’ll just navigate folks through that stuff. I’ll probably do the starting line-ups. At this point, I don’t believe I have any pre-game interview responsibilities. Post-game, if we win, I’ll do the post-game interview, which is what Ken used to do.

OC: Have you had much exposure to Ray Fosse at this point?

Cotroneo: I interacted with Ray when our teams would play each other, and the A’s and Rangers played 20 times a year, so I certainly got to know Ray from that experience. Announcers, for the most part, are exchanging information with the other team’s announcers all of the time. You try to be respectful about giving them information that you think they probably don’t have that you can’t just read in a paper or see in a statistic that might give them an overview. So I would always do that stuff with Bill, Ray, Ken and even Greg Papa when he was with the A’s. From that point of view, there was always conversation. The thing about Ken and Ray is that they are always on the field and that is the way I was, too.

That’s the way you’ve got to be. You’ve got to be on the field, you’ve got to be in the clubhouse, you’ve got to talk to the manager and to the players. It’s not just when the microphone is on. A lot of times, it’s just stopping by to say ‘hey, how are you doing?’ or ask about strategy or their opinion about why, say, Roy Halladay is so great and what makes him better in certain situations then others. Or what’s getting them through this tough streak. You know, you try to stay away from them when they are going well because they aren’t going to talk to you anyway (laughing).

OC: How many types of superstitions from players have you run into?

Cotroneo: It’s pretty standard. Every guy has his own [superstitions and habits] and it falls on me to understand that person’s pace and make-up or that person’s desire to talk or not to talk. My job is to do my job well enough where I can separate myself from the good portion of people who cover teams, whether they cover them intimately or not, because I’m there everyday and I can just walk up to say, Barry Zito – not on the day he pitches, of course, but hopefully the day before or day after – and just ask him, ‘hey, I saw you said this in the paper, what did you mean by that’ and that sort of thing.

OC: You touched on briefly earlier in the interview that you discussed with Ken Pries what the situation will be during the first season without Bill King. Has there been much discussion about what might be done, either in his honor or just as a remembrance?

Cotroneo: I don’t know, but whatever they want to do in regards to Bill is fine by me. He earned it, he deserves it. The fans never really had a chance to say good-bye to Bill. I’m definitely aware and sensitive to the fact that there is a strong connection to Bill for over a generation and he will be acknowledged and I don’t doubt for a minute that he will be talked about on the air.

When I came to Texas, when people thought about the Rangers on the radio, it was Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel. They were together for more than 10 years and when the team was just not very good, but people would listen to them just because of their camaraderie. They are both tremendous announcers. When I came in, I replaced Brad Sham, as Mark had moved to television and then passed away in 1997 [Vince joined the Rangers in 1998]. When I first got to Texas, I was at a pre-season banquet and I got up at the podium and told everyone that I understood what they had come to expect from listening to the Rangers on the radio. I knew that there was a generation of people in Texas who when they thought of the Rangers on the radio, they thought of Mark and Eric. And it is similar here in that there is a generation of people who listened to Bill when they were kids and now they have kids. I think it is my job to continue on that tradition as best as possible.

Bill was bigger than life. He was a unique person and someone that I dealt with and exchanged information with. One thing that I loved about Bill, and it is the same thing I loved about Ken and Ray, was that he was always on the field and he always was prepared. He kept notes in his extra-large notebook that he used to lean on when he was coming on the air, and he had years of anecdotes and whatnot. That’s what I tell the Oakland fans today, that I respect the game that they listened to with their dads and I want to give them a similar experience when they are listening to the game with their kids.

I’m not Bill King, I’ll never be Bill King, but hopefully when you are listening to Ken, Ray and myself, you’ll hear enough camaraderie and, most importantly, enough information, and you’ll get the score so that you’ll know what is going on. I won’t say ‘us’ and ‘we’, but you’ll know who I work for in a professional way.

OC: Is there a style that you have developed over time?

Cotroneo: I’m just a conversational person, just a baseball person. I don’t have a homerun call, never have. There are a couple of sayings I’ve used over the years and I’m sure you’ll hear them, but nothing out of the ordinary. And if, for some reason, I get hit with a bolt of lighting and Eric Chavez hits a homerun and a saying pops out that stays with me, so be it. I’m not looking for [a gimmick] and I’m definitely not writing options down or anything like that. I’m not trying to be cute. I’m just trying to do the job.

OC: Has radio always been your medium, or have you ever done television? Is there one you like more than the other?

Cotroneo: I’ve done some television. I did the pre-game TV show and occasionally filled in on color and maybe once or twice I did play by play for the Astros. With the Rangers, I was the primary fill-in person for Josh Lewin, who is their primary TV play-by-play guy, when he had FOX commitments. I did 20-25 games on TV in 2002. So I’ve done both. Both are fun for different reasons. But baseball on the radio is at the top of the list. And I’m not disparaging television in any way, shape or form. I like doing it, there is stuff that you are able to do on television that you can’t on the radio. But when you are on the radio, you’ve got that guy in the car who is driving to get a gallon of milk or that guy who is driving from Modesto to San Jose and you are along for the ride. You are the companion. You get to be more of the wordsmith and you get to paint more of a picture. I’m very thankful that I’ve gotten a chance to do it again.

OC: Is your family coming out with you to the West Coast or are they staying in Texas?

Cotroneo: I have a wife and three young children -- Dominic (11), Olivia (10) and Sophia (4). My wife has a really fun position here in the Dallas-area now as an event-trade show coordinator for a company. So at this point, I’m going to come out there by myself and they are going to come out for the long home-stand before the All-Star Break and through the All-Star Break and I come back to Texas three times and hopefully I can get them to come up to Kansas City, which is a relatively easy drive from here. And maybe try to get my wife to join me a little bit. It’s going to be different. When you have a family, you don’t want to be separated from them any more then you already have to be in this job, so that is going to be bit of a challenge. But they are understanding, so I’m very blessed in that regard.

OC: You live in Flower Mound. Did you follow Craig Italiano (A’s 2005 draft pick) and the other great pitchers from that program this season?

Cotroneo: I literally can walk from my home to the high school. I didn’t get to see him in person, but I’m anxious to see him in spring training and talk to him then. That was a tremendous program. It is a young program that has come along very quickly, so it has been pretty amazing to watch. It’ll be nice to talk to a kid who can throw 98 MPH.



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