Aaron Goldsmith has gone from the minor leagues — calling games as the lead announcer for the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox last season — to broadcasting from Safeco Field Monday night as the new radio announcer for the Seattle Mariners.
The 29-year-old joins lead announcer Rick Rizzs in the press box, recognizing he has big spikes to fill in replacing legendary announcer Dave Niehaus, who died in 2010.
Goldsmith spent spring training getting used to broadcasting for the team and now has a week of regular-season games under his belt in preparation for the first home game of the season.
He brings a “just happy to be here” attitude and a love of seafood to Seattle.
Q: Can you tell us about spring training?
A: It was a lot of fun. It was a great opportunity for me to get to know the team and to get to know the guys a little bit, and probably even more so than that, it gave me a chance to really get to know my new broadcast partner, Rick Rizzs, really well.
It helped us form a good relationship on the air and off the air, and it really set the perfect tone for opening day.
It’s so important from an on-air standpoint to learn how to dance with your partner on air.
Rick and I have become great friends.
It’s just that act of sitting next to that guy for three hours a day for 30 games in a row that is necessary.
Listeners can tell if you’re not friends, if you don’t get along. I’m going to see Rick more than I’ll see my wife for the next six months.
Q: Can you describe opening day? That has to be different than spring training for you.
A: Obviously the ballpark is five times the size or whatever it may be, and there’s all kinds of excitement in the air. Fireworks going off for the starting lineups.
The funny thing for me, I suppose, is that (O.co Coliseum in Oakland) doesn’t exactly have a great reputation of being a premier ballpark in the major leagues. But for me, I thought it was the best ballpark that I’ve ever been to, because of the situation that I was at.
It was fine by me to start off at the coliseum, because that was the most exciting baseball game that I’ve ever seen in my life, in person. Felix (Hernandez) had a big part in that. He was fantastic for nearly eight innings. But obviously, that’s the first time I’ve ever called my first big league ballgame. It’s something I just tried to soak up with every pitch, and I trust it’s something that I’ll never forget.
Q: What do you think got you the big league job?
A: I think the thing that I’ve tried to work on more than anything else over the years is simply to be easy to listen to. When you’re doing 162 games and you’re broadcasting a handful of innings every night, fans take you into their homes. They take you into their cars, into their work. They take you with them wherever they are.
For people to be able to turn on the radio and want to hear you talk about their favorite team is tough. So whether it be pace or tone or cadence or humor, those are all some of the ingredients that I’ve tried to put into being easy to listen to.
If someone isn’t an easy listen in this game, they’re not going to last very long.
Q: Can you describe the experiences that led you to the Mariners?
A: I didn’t exactly have a direct path to Seattle. I bounced around the minor leagues for six years.
I hear people say that I got to the major leagues quickly. I suppose if you look at it on paper you can make the case for that. But when you’re living it and you’re in the minor leagues, going from one seasonal job to the other, you’re not making any money. You don’t know if you’re doing a good job or not, and you’re going into debt. You’re in one part of the country one season and a completely different part of the country the next season, and you don’t know anybody, and your family is all out of town. It can feel like a long time.
I still have very vivid memories of making $70 a month in this business, working for free as a completely unpaid intern 1,500 miles across the country from where my friends and family were.
I think one of the reasons why I’m here today is my willingness to go wherever it was that offered me a job. And I learned very early on that I could not afford to be picky. Because I was not very good when I started off.
You’ve got to show up. That’s 90 percent of it. And I showed up wherever it was that gave me a microphone.
Q: When did you know this was what you wanted to do? Who or what influenced you?
A: I’ve always loved baseball. For a number of years when I was in college, I knew sports was the field I wanted to work in.
About a month before I graduated college, I woke up one morning and I had a thought, and it was: “Boy, if I could get paid to talk about sports on the radio, that would be a pretty nice gig.”
My mother for years always said that I should get into radio. And like every son, I ignored virtually half of the things that she said.
I’m sure it was her voice that I heard in my head when I woke up that morning.
I went to a trade school in St. Louis after I graduated.
I worked retail and nights, and I went to school in the morning. It was really a school for DJs. I knew nothing about radio. I didn’t have any idea what to do with a microphone in front of my face. They taught me the basics.
I made my first demo tape calling Division III women’s basketball from the rafters into an honest-to-goodness tape deck, with a cassette tape and microphone. It took me six games to get five minutes of uninterrupted play-by-play that wasn’t atrocious, that was just barely listenable.
Q: Can you tell us about your early interest in the game?
A: I grew up in St. Louis, which is obviously a terrific baseball town. In St. Louis there was a gentleman named Jack Buck, and Jack Buck is one of the greatest baseball broadcasters of all time. I went to his memorial service at Busch Stadium on a sweltering hot summer day.
Jack Buck was the guy that I probably heard more than anyone else on the radio growing up. But all the time when I was listening, I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that one day I’d be doing the same job. Not nearly to his high standards, but at least the same job.
Looking back on it, it makes a lot of sense. But at the time, I was just a fan who loved my home team.
Q: Can you talk about the legacy that you’re stepping into, given your predecessor?
A: I never would have thought that there could be a city that loves one of their broadcasters more than St. Louis loves Jack Buck, and then I come to Seattle, and now I don’t know if there’s a city in America that loves their greatest broadcaster of all time more than Seattle loves Dave Niehaus.
I’ve had such a terrific time learning about Dave.
The good news for me, and the good news for Mariners fans, is that nobody is replacing Dave Niehaus. And nobody ever wants to, and it’s impossible.
The man’s in the Hall of Fame.
Q: What do you do for fun, outside of your career?
A: I love to cook. Unfortunately, I don’t get to do it for about six months of the year during baseball season. There was a time when I was pretty close to going to culinary school, believe it or not.
I love seafood, so I could not be more thrilled to be living on the other coast.
To me, there’s few things outside of sports more exciting than going to a top-notch seafood market.
When I’m not cooking my own food, I love Mexican food. You can find me at a Chipotle at least once or twice a week. That’s my go-to spot.
Q: Any moments on the job so far that have been either funny or daunting?
A: Well, we weren’t quite sure we were going to make it out of spring training alive. The first road game of the spring, we had a foul ball that came back and blew up our producer’s computer. A few days later, Rick was walking during batting practice and got hit by a foul ball. Before all of that, Rick’s windshield got hit by a foul ball during batting practice, like the second day of spring training. When we were in Scottsdale calling a game, Brendan Ryan hit a foul ball that went right to me. It slipped right through my hands in the booth.
We were just grateful to make it out of spring training alive.
We all had targets on us.
Now that we’re in big league ballparks, we’re a lot higher up.