Byline: Bill Doyle
COLUMN: TUNING IN
When Don Orsillo was a 22-year-old minor league baseball broadcaster in Binghamton, N.Y. - when he really was Announcer Boy - he used to dread entering his hotel room after road games.
If the red light was flashing on his telephone, he knew right away the message would be a critique of his radio broadcast from the team's general manager.
"If it wasn't flashing," Orsillo said, "you took a sigh of relief."
The general manager thought nothing of calling Orsillo and telling him to be more descriptive and asking why he mentioned certain things and not others.
"It was very tough," Orsillo recalled. "I was like, `God, I'm not going to make it out of the season.' But he definitely made me a lot better, especially on the radio side. He was someone who was very helpful."
The critiques helped Orsillo move on from Binghamton after three seasons to spend five years as the radio voice of the Pawtucket Red Sox and the past six as Boston Red Sox play-by-play voice on NESN. During the winter, Orsillo signed a contract extension, reportedly for three years with a NESN option for 2010.
That general manager in Binghamton will be able to listen to Orsillo's Sox broadcasts again this season. He's R.C. Reuteman, new president and general manager of the Worcester Tornadoes.
"It wasn't critical, it was constructive criticism," Reuteman said. "I take the broadcasting end of it very seriously. He obviously had the voice, which is the first thing I look for."
Reuteman listened to every inning of every road game and once heard Orsillo make a fly ball sound as if it was going to be a home run before it was caught. Reuteman called the manager to ask how close the fly had come to going over the fence and was told the ball didn't even reach the warning track. The manager later told Orsillo, "You're going to get a call from R.C."
"Yeah, I know it," Orsillo said with a sigh.
Reuteman said he's as proud of helping Orsillo reach the majors as aiding dozens of players make the big leagues during his 22 years in front office work in minor league baseball.
"That's part of my job," Reuteman said, "whether it's a player or a groundskeeper or a broadcaster, clubhouse guy, whatever. When you look at a young broadcaster, you project the same way you do with a player. Don's done great."
How would Orsillo like to be Jeremy Lechan, the Tornadoes' young radio announcer?
"I wouldn't like it at all," Orsillo said with a laugh. "But tell him it will be...