MARLBOROUGH, Conn. (AP) — Bob Joyce has called six national championship games as the radio play-by-play voice of the UConn women’s basketball team, but spends the offseason as a baseball umpire.
The 51-year-old sportscaster for WTIC-AM says baseball has been a life-long passion and he spends much of his free time officiating everything from Little League to high school varsity games in Connecticut.
Broadcasting and officiating, he says, are very different but have one notable similarity.
“You want to get the call right,” he said. “That last-second call on a broadcast, you don’t want to botch that. And as an umpire, you don’t want to botch a call that’s going to determine the outcome of a game.”
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Joyce began umping in 2005, taking twice-a-week classes during the winter to learn the craft. It was a way to stay connected to the game after his son, Rob, aged out of youth baseball and Joyce was no longer an assistant coach for those teams.
He’s now a member of two chapters of the Connecticut Board of Approved Umpires.
Most of the baseball players and those watching the games he officiates have no idea who he is. And that’s the way he likes it. A few parents will recognize him and some will comment.
“He should give us play-by-play on that loudspeaker behind home plate,” joked Brian Jeroszko, of Hebron, while watching his son John play during a recent junior varsity game played in Marlborough between RHAM High School and Maloney High School from Meriden.
Joyce says keeping track of things such as the count, balks and if a batter has checked his swing keeps him plenty busy. He’s never been tempted to do play-by-play in his head while behind the plate.
And he’s not a fan of those flashy “Steeeee-rike!” calls either.
“I don’t try to do anything to draw attention to myself,” Joyce said. “I try to keep my calls simple, just do the job…