MLB announcer reminisces about his days in Huntington

October 19, 2018

Major League Baseball’s 2018 season wraps up with the start of the World Series Tuesday night. While we watch the championship on FOX, fans around the world will be watching on MLB International with MLB Network/ESPN’s Matt Vasgersian handling the play-byplay.

Vasgersian may be one of MLB’s top broadcasters now, but in 1991, he was just beginning his career in Huntington as the radio play-byplay announcer for the Huntington Cubs, the Appalachian League rookie affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Recently, Vasgersian reminisced with me about his time in Huntington, which he remembers in vivid detail just like it was yesterday.

“With each passing year,” he told me, “I remember it with even more fondness.”

Vasgersian was trying to figure out what he wanted to do after college when he became acquainted with one of the Cubs owners at a summer camp where he volunteered. The co-owner offered him the Cubs radio play-by-play job with no experience. Having always dreamed of being a baseball play-by-play guy, Vasgersian left California for Huntington.

“When I first walked out on that field, I had the music from ‘Field of Dreams’ in my head,” Vasgersian said. “I had realized a dream. And Huntington was the most charming place I’d ever been in my life.”

One of Vasgersian’s fondest memories of his one season in Huntington is his first game, which was rained out. “I was scared out of my mind and I wasn’t really good at keeping score,” he said. “That was a sign from the radio gods.”

Working for the Cubs meant Vasgersian was called on to do much more than just play-by-play. “Everybody did everything,” he said. “We were all hands-on deck. Everybody liked each other. We were dumb kids who were so happy to be there.”

Vasgersian tiled and painted the pressbox before the season—which he said he did with pleasure—occasionally arranged the letters on the concessions menu and often came out of the pressbox when it rained to help put the tarp on the field. He even sang the National Anthem at a game.

So did Vasgersian ever imagine himself doing play-by-play for “Sunday Night Baseball” on ESPN, as he did for the first time this season?

“No chance,” he said. “I did not have the nerve to dream something like that. I didn’t have the ability to see my hand in front of my face. It was really one step at a time.”

Vasgersian said he still has a Huntington Cubs mug and T-shirt, which he considers to be among his most cherished possessions. “I worked with some great people,” he told me. “I still remember a lot of those guys by name. I was so charmed by all these people. My only regret [about Huntington] is that I haven’t been back.”

In addition to “Sunday Night Baseball” and his work on MLB Network, including co-hosting the off-season show, “Hot Stove,” Vasgersian can be heard as the play-by-play announcer on the Playstation video game, “MLB The Show.”

Angela Henderson-Bentley writes about television for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact her at ahendersonbent-ley@hotmail.com.