Josh Whetzel has been calling minor league baseball games for nearly 25 years. Beginning in 1995 with the now-defunct Albany (Ga.) Polecats, Whetzel has steadily climbed his way up the minor league ladder, including stints with the Kinston Indians and Binghamton Mets before joining the Rochester Red Wings in 2003.
Like most everyone else in the minors, Whetzel, a native of Parsons, Kan., keeps his sights set on making it to the majors. Though a career in the minors can be a grind — whether as a player, executive or broadcaster — Whetzel considers himself fortunate to be calling games in the International League.
What follows is my conversation with Whetzel about his path through minors and what it takes to make it as a broadcaster in baseball. The transcript has been edited in spots for length and clarity.
Can you describe what a day in the life of a minor league broadcaster is like?
It kind of varies a lot depending on the guy and his job description. Quite frankly, I have a few less responsibilities than probably a lot of the other minor league broadcasters, which is fine by me. It gives me more time to focus on trying to come up with stuff to talk about in the games.
My previous jobs, I was more involved in the PR stuff and putting together game notes and that sort of thing. In this particular job with the Red Wings, I don’t have to do as much of the PR stuff and I am not involved with the game notes, and so basically I spend all day getting ready for the broadcast, scouring the internet for tidbits of information that I am going to use in the game that night.
I know a little bit about your backstory, that you survived cancer at a young age and in some ways that helped lead you into a career as a broadcaster. Can you shed some light on that experience?
By the time I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to get into sports broadcasting, but I’m not the sort of person who is good at asking people for stuff, so I didn’t necessarily know how to get a job in radio. I was helping the local sports announcer in my hometown do stats for high school games and that sort of thing. And when I got diagnosed with cancer when I was going into my senior year of high school, some classmates of mine knew that I was a huge baseball fan, and specifically a Dodgers fan. So they contacted an outfit called the Dream Factory, which is kind of like Make-A-Wish, and organized a trip to Los Angeles for me to see the Dodgers.