Play-by-play coverage of baseball on radio encompasses much more than sports. Bringing a game alive on the airwaves through words and sounds also provides entertainment and sets a mood for the soundtrack to summer.
Scott Kornberg, the new radio voice and media relations manager for the 2015 Carolina League Mills Cup Champion Myrtle Beach Pelicans – with all games available through a link at www.myrtlebeachpelicans.com – found that out at an early age. The New Jersey native said growing up in the New York market, car rides with his father meant catching baseball and football games on the radio, and seeing games at the former Shea Stadium.
“We were Mets fans,” Kornberg said, happy again for the Metropolitans winning Major League Baseball’s National League pennant in 2015. One time in the late 1990s, being “banished to my bedroom” after an altercation with his sister also wasn’t bad, he said, because he then turned on the radio for a Mets playoff game and later heard Todd Pratt belt a walkoff home run.
Sorting out baseball cards by every team as a youngster, with full lineups, rotations and bullpens, and announcing games to himself, also helped stoked Kornberg’s “reason for my passion” to turn gamecasts into a career.
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Kornberg already has found his comfort zone in the Carolina League, for he spent last year as the broadcast and media relations assistant with the Winston-Salem Dash, part of the Chicago White Sox system. Joining the Pelicans for their second year as the Chicago Cubs’ Class A Advanced affiliate, he spoke of the fortune of familiarity with all eight ball parks across the league, which stretches northeast into Virginia, Maryland and Delaware as well.
Knowing “the vantage points” in the other stadiums, Kornberg said, and the other teams’ respective broadcasters, brings more built-in advantages for the new season of baseball opening this week.
Working in minor league ball the past few years, and growing up in a time when fewer big-league games were available on national TV, Kornberg said, “radio was the way to go to listen to everything.” The entertainment element surges for people who, though not at the game, are kept “on the edge of their seats, listening.”
Always loving to announce a game-winning homer to end a game or a win that clinches a division crown or playoff berth – and still waiting to call a perfect game – Kornberg said with baseball season spanning 140 games in the Carolina League, he doesn’t get “too high or low” with overall feelings, because winning and losing streaks happen. Having seen how teammates keep a positive outlook in the clubhouse, Kornberg said he understands that central perseverance to get back on track.
Best friend from childhood loved Cubs
Joining the Pelicans with the franchise’s Cubs affiliation in its infancy – and after the parent club reached the National League Championship Series last October – Kornberg finds his new partnership “really special.” He said he spent time last month at Cubs’ spring training in Arizona, he loved the immersion in this family.
“My best friend,” the 25-year-old said, remembering childhood, “was a Cubs fan, and I always rooted for the team, for him.”
Appreciating the “incredible history” and fan base with the Cubs, Kornberg said he understands why people are “pumped up for” Chicago as a contender in 2016, especially with Myrtle Beach now a feeder club in that line of roster talent, long term.
Kornberg also has plenty of fanfare to widen from his own perspective, because having worked for the Dash last season, and the previous year with the Quad Cities River Bandits in Iowa, the lower Class A team for the Houston Astros in the Midwest League, he naturally to see players from teams he has covered “from all over the map” reach the majors.
“It’s impossible not to root for them,” he said, explaining how “you develop a love of baseball, and you also root for amazing stories.”
Those include the Kansas City Royals making the World Series the last two years, and winning the second time around.
The Pelicans playing host Saturday for the Reggie Sanders Foundation’s “Legends Never Fade Celebrity Softball Game” served as the ideal warmup for the whole staff, Kornberg said, “to get everybody back in that routine.”
The special guests last week included Baseball of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., letting Kornberg be a fan himself for a few moments, when they met for a panel.
“I said to Cal, ‘You spoke at my graduation,’” Kornberg remembered from 2013 at the University of Maryland, “and he told me how he came up with some good quotes for the speech.”
Kornberg, who spends his offseason calling football and basketball games for Western Illinois University, said “the biggest transition” among his three sports is going from baseball to football, because baseball boasts a different pace and “rhythm” to translate for radio, compared with the other two and their fast tempo. None of the three parts of his profession is “really work,” he said, “because even if I was not in broadcasting, I would be listening to or attending games.”
“I’m getting paid to do a hobby,” he said, respectful of the titans with chops, such as Eric Nadel, a Texas Baseball Hall of Fame inductee who has spent nearly four decades broadcasting Texas Rangers baseball on radio.
When he met Nadel, Kornberg was taken by how he writes little notes atop game scorecards with reminders to smile, relax and have fun. Kornberg brought home another tweak to improve his own routine. By using markers to “color-code” his scorebooks, say with strikeouts grouped in blue and runs batted in denoted in green, it streamlines his game statistical compilation and preparation, to have data more handy and quick for easier deciphering during a game, all to better enrich the background and picture painted for listeners.
Kornberg figured he uses only “10-15 percent of material” in a game, but being “overprepared so much has really helped me.”
Barnett heads back home to Dallas
Nathan Barnett spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons handling Pelicans radio play by play, and for 2016, he has rejoined the Rangers’ Double-A team, the Frisco RoughRiders, in the same role, where he had been the broadcast assistant in 2013.
Praising the Pelicans’ ‘first class” caliber and standing as an organization, Barnett said only about eight other positions elsewhere could have lured him away from “the beach,” and two summers here paved a new road for his career.
Barnett said calling minor league games, watching men aspiring to reach higher levels, doesn’t necessarily mean his colleagues in his profession need to climb the grades for satisfaction in covering the sport, which especially in the minors, provides affordable outings for the community, and family fun and memories to share.
“The people who work there,” he said, referring to the Pelicans’ front office and staying friends and in touch with the crew, “could work at any level. That’s a star-studded group of people.”
“A rewarding challenge” for Barnett also came from the Pelicans shifting from the Rangers affiliation since 2011 to start 2015 with the Cubs, to another parent franchise he called “very welcoming” and embracing for the transition into the “Cubs world and universe.”
Going from one great system with Texas to Chicago’s, and with the Pelicans brass’ full enthusiasm, let Barnett score new experience on another level.
“I think it was their tutelege,” he said, “their leadership, the way pushed me out of my comfort zone, in a way I never thought they could, they gave me the foundation for where I am, and where I continue to go.”
Barnett said adding a voice for, and assisting in marketing, a team involves “relationship building,” with coaches, players, local sponsors, and season ticket holders, all in “being a conduit for what we’re tring to do as a franchise, for media and fans.” The Pelicans provided him that model in “every single way,” he said.
Returning to his hometown Dallas to work nearby in Frisco also comes with a familiarity factor to Barnett, crossing paths again with several players and coaches from Myrtle Beach during its Texas tenure, including Manager Joe Mikulik.
Asked for the greatest memento the Grand Strand gave him, Barnett answered with sparkling spirits still fresh from September, when the Pelicans won their first Mills Cup Championship since 2000: “a ring.”
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 843-444-1764.
If you go
WHO: 2015 Carolina League Mills Cup Champion Myrtle Beach Pelicans, in 18th season of baseball, and second as the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs
WHAT AND WHEN: First homestand of 2016, against:
▪ Frederick (Md.) Keys, part of the Baltimore Orioles’ system – 7:05 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3:05 p.m. Sunday.
▪ Winston-Salem Dash, a Chicago White Sox farm club, 7:05 p.m. April 11-13
WHERE: TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, 1251 21st Ave. N., Myrtle Beach – Enter parking lot from Robert Grissom Parkway.
▪ Advance: $9 left-field bleachers, $11 upper deck (with “Reserved Box” seats in middle five sections, and “Grand Strand Reserved” bleacher seats in two corner sections each), and $13 field box – and each $2 more on game day.
▪ Military discount – With ID at box office, receive $3 discount for all games, in all sections.
▪ “Backpack Buddies Monday” – Donate a food item from this list for Help 4 Kids’ Backpack Buddies (843-651-4310 or help4kidssc.com) for relay to children of needy families across Horry County – Ramen noodles; Pop-Tarts; Beenie Weenies; Vienna sausage; pop-top ravioli, pasta or chicken noodle soup; individual servings of cereal, pudding, or apple sauce; peanut butter crackers; and fruit cups – and receive half-off ticket prices for games on April 11; May 23 and 30; June 6 and 13; July 25; and Aug. 15 – at box office only. Also, for every donation made, McDonald's will donate a Happy Meal.
▪ “2sday Brewsday” – $2 craft beers, 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays.
▪ “Weiner Wednesday” – 2-for-1 Hebrew National hot dogs (Buy one, get one free).
▪ “Thursday Thursdays” – $1 Budweiser and Bud Light draughts and $2 cans, 6-8 p.m.
▪ Saturdays – “Locals Appreciation,” with $3 discount on upper-deck reserved seats with local ID (for Horry and Georgetown counties) at box office; and “Embrace Veterans,” honoring local Korean War veterans, including third annual “Military Appreciation Night” and Military Card Set Giveaway on May 21.
▪ “Family Sunday” – Bring your ball and glove for 25 minutes of pregame catch in the outfield, 15 minutes after gates open: Sunday and April 24; May 1, 22 and 29; June 5 and 26; July 3 and 24; and Aug. 7 and 21.
SOME RECURRING PROMOTIONS:
▪ Post-game fireworks – After all Saturday games, as well as April 7; June 23, 26 and 30; July 3, 14. 21 and 24; and Aug. 4 and 7.
▪ Every game – Pregame autographs Mondays-Saturdays with players for about 15 minutes after gates open, and for ages 12 and younger, run the bases after every game.
▪ “Bark in the Park,” April 29 and Aug. 19.
SOME SPECIAL THEME NIGHTS: “Splash’s Birthday” and bike giveaway on April 23; “Christmas Vacation Night” June 4; “Star Wars Night” April 22; “Faith & Family Night” June 26 with Dale Murphy; “Myrtle Beach Mermen Night” and replica jersey giveaway July 21; and “Old School Hip Hop Night” Aug. 11 with postgame DJ session with Biz Markie.
SPECIAL PROMOTIONS FOR OPENING WEEKEND:
Thursday – Magnet schedule giveaway to first 5,000 fans through the gates, and postgame fireworks.
Friday – “Superhero Night.”
Saturday – 2015 Carolina League Championship replica ring giveaway, to first 1,000 fans; and fireworks.
Sunday – “Youth League Day” with a bat bag giveaway to first 1,000 fans ages 12 and younger.
LISTEN: All games, with play by play by Scott Kornberg, through link at www.myrtlebeachpelicans.com
INFORMATION: 843-918-6000, 877-918-8499 (TIXX) or www.myrtlebeachpelicans.com