For Aaron Goldsmith, the Mariners’ 29-year-old rookie broadcaster, today is a big day — his first major-league broadcast after six years in the minors and independent leagues. Goldsmith will join partner Rick Rizzs to call the Mariners’ Cactus League opener against the Padres from Peoria, Ariz. It will air at 12:05 Pacific Time on 710 ESPN.
But Goldsmith is trying not to make too much of a game that is, after all, just an exhibition, and the first of about 200 he and Rizzs will work this year.
“It’s definitely both nerves and excitement,” Goldsmith said this morning. “This is uncharted waters for myself, but as I keep telling myself, as Rick keeps telling me, it’s just another baseball game, strange as that sounds. It’s not the home opener, it’s not even opening day. It’s spring training. If I can just keep it simple, keep it basic, have a smile, have fun with it, it’s going to turn out fine.”
That said, Goldsmith is well aware that many fans will tune in just to hear what the new guys sounds like. Goldsmith will be doing the play-by-play for the third, sixth and seventh innings, and offering color in the other innings called by Rizzs.
“It’s one of those things, at least in the minor leagues, if you ever think about how many people are listening, you’ll get incredibly depressed,” he said. “You can probably count them on two hands. I knew my mother was listening, my wife, and that’s about it. So I’ve never gotten caught up in, boy, I wonder how many people are listening today. If I let that affect how I was going to prepare, or how I was going to perform, I would not do a very good job in relation.
“There’s no doubt there’s going to me more listeners. But I think once the broadcast gets going, and you’re a couple pitches into it, you really do just feel like it’s you talking to a buddy, and people are just listening in. They’re eavesdropping on a conversation. You get so used to it in this profession, you don’t even think about how many, or how little, are going to be listening.”
Rizzs and Goldsmith have been inseparable since arriving in Arizona, watching workouts together and just hanging out, building the rapport necessary for a broadcast team. Rizzs has taken pains to mentor Goldsmith and try to help him feel at ease. He said that Dave Niehaus did the same for him back in 1983, when he similarly was hired out of the minor leagues at age 29.
“I feel it’s something that’s very necessary, and an obligation, because that’s what Dave Niehaus did to me, 31 years ago,” Rizzs said. “I was so nervous that first broadcast, and I’ll never forget what he said: ‘Rick, just be yourself. It’s baseball.’ I can still hear Dave saying that. I’ve told Aaron the same thing the last three or four days: It’s just baseball, relax, be yourself. Don’t be afraid to come in and interject anything you want.
“Dave did that for me a long time ago, and now I need to do that for him. He’s here now, he’s outstanding, and I just want to make him comfortable so he can do his job.”
Does Goldsmith feel like he’s ready?
“I’ve done a lot of preparation, and I haven’t done enough,” he said with a laugh. “There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to get caught up on this team like I’d want to, or any broadcaster in my shoes would want to. My goal was to have a solid understanding of the story lines, the individual players, by this time. And I feel like I have that. I’m going to have 30-some games to get more in-depth. That’s the challenge and the fun part, but I’m so grateful I have spring training to do that. Because there’s always going to be a ton of homework, but for the new guy coming in there’s more.”
Goldsmith added that he’s going to “go slow. There’s no reason for me to kick open any doors in game 1 out of almost 200 if you include spring training, and try to blow anyone’s socks off. I’m just going to augment Rick as best I can and have a great time doing it.”