Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Suchon takes over Nuts play-by-play

The following article was in today's Modesto Bee. When Brian called me and said he wanted to do a story, I figured it would be a couple paragraphs inside the sports section. I was shocked to learn it was splashed all the way across the front of the sports section. Even more frightening, they dug up an old photo of me from somewhere at The Oakland Tribune -- and made it enormous on the website.

It was after a horrendous decision to dye my hair blonde. It looks like I have radioactive waste coming from my hair. Pretty sure I'd just gotten back from a cruise too, so my face is bright red and I'm wearing a red sweater. It might be my worst look since my 4th grade school photo, when I had pencil marks all over my front teeth because I was a dumb kid who didn't even realize what he was doing that day in class. Anyway, here's the story.


Last Updated: February 13, 2007, 05:20:29 AM PST

Ten years ago, Josh Suchon embarked on what he hoped would be a career as a baseball play-by-play announcer, taking a job as director of broadcasting with the Modesto A's.
There were a few technical glitches.

The renovated John Thurman Field didn't have a press box, let alone a broadcast booth. Oh, and the front office never bothered to look into securing a radio contract.

Suchon stayed with the team for six weeks before taking a job covering high school sports for The Oakland Tribune. Within four years, he became the paper's San Francisco Giants beat writer, then moved his laptop across the bay in 2004 to cover the Oakland Athletics.

"When I first left Modesto, the way things went down I was so disappointed that I didn't even listen to games on the radio," Suchon said. "Then my love of baseball took over. And every year it became more and more important to me that I give it another shot."

Now 33, Suchon has taken the large step back into the radio side, taking a position with ESPN Radio 970 that includes being the play-by-play voice of the Modesto Nuts.

Local listeners will be able to hear Suchon beginning March 1 as part of the Modesto Morning News show from 5-9 a.m. The Nuts open April 5 against the Visalia Oaks, and Suchon will continue to deliver baseball by night and sports news by sunrise once the season starts.

"The only time I'm ever awake at 5 a.m. is when I have to catch a plane," Suchon said. "Now, I have to be awake and coherent and let people know what's going on in the sports world. I'm hoping there's good caffeine in Modesto."

Suchon replaces Jim O'Reilly in the Nuts' booth. O'Reilly suddenly left the station last fall.

"It was an extensive search that we opened nationwide," 970 program director Geoff Silvius said. "We had guys with Double-A jobs send in tapes, and we had guys right out of college looking for their first job. But the great thing about Josh, in addition to his passion for becoming a play-by-play guy, is his understanding of the area."

Even while writing about major-league baseball, Suchon never lost the itch to get behind a microphone. Several times a year, he would find an open broadcast booth in Oakland and do play-by-play into a tape recorder.

Oakland announcer "Ken Korach has been very supportive, and it was an inspiration just being around Bill King," Suchon said. "I thought it was cool that Bill King knew my name. I would do the play-by-play just to remind myself how much I liked doing it and to keep those fires alive."

Those recordings became handy when Suchon needed audition tapes to reclaim the same Modesto play-by-play job he landed in 1997.

"Coming back here to start again is very funny to me," Suchon said. "I wouldn't trade the last 10 years for anything, but this is like going back in time."

To comment, click on the link with this story at http://www.modbee.com/. Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at 578-2300 or bvanderbeek@modbee.com.

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