This article is based on an interview with broadcaster Allan Wylie and Lake County Captains broadcast director Cole Liggett, for MiLB.com's "Show Before the Show" podcast. Listen to the full interview HERE. Wylie will be in the Lake County broadcast booth for three more games, Aug. 15-17, vs. the Peoria
This article is based on an interview with broadcaster Allan Wylie and Lake County Captains broadcast director Cole Liggett, for MiLB.com's "Show Before the Show" podcast. Listen to the full interview HERE. Wylie will be in the Lake County broadcast booth for three more games, Aug. 15-17, vs. the Peoria Chiefs. Tune into the games via MiLB.TV.
Allan Wylie, a rising senior at Cleveland-area Westlake High School, has been blind since birth. He's also a sports broadcaster, currently in the midst of a seven-game stint doing color commentary for Cleveland's High-A affiliate, the Lake County Captains. To those who may feel Wylie's pursuit is counterintuitive, he says he's out to prove those with disabilities can find success in the field of their choosing.
"Sports has been a big part of my life since I was about 2," said Wylie. "I'd be listening to Cleveland Indians -- now Guardians -- games with Tom Hamilton calling the games. And that progressed into me following more sports. ... It got to the point where I was sitting there and I'm like, 'I could do this. I could do the color commentary.'"
Seeking to capitalize on this eureka moment, Wiley attended a Chicago-based Play-By-Play Broadcasting Camp. Returning to Westlake for his sophomore year, he began doing color commentary on high school football broadcasts and this led to further work with the G League's Cleveland Charge.
He came to the attention of the Captains, located in Eastlake, Ohio, after an employee of the Cleveland Sight Center reached out to the team. The Captains arranged to have him work in the Class Park broadcast booth with play-by-play broadcaster Logan Potosky for seven games in August. (Three of those games are still to come, Aug. 15-17, vs. the Peoria Chiefs.)
Cole Liggett, Lake County's director of broadcasting, has enjoyed a proverbial front-row seat while Wylie's been on the mic. He said it's been a "mind-blowing" experience.
"He will remember a stat from the first inning. It will be, like, the top of the eighth. How does he remember that?" said Liggett. "It's been an honor to work with him ... to make this kind of broadcast. Go up another level, we never usually have a color commentator. So it has helped our broadcast. It's really helped Logan, so he doesn't have to talk to himself all the time. I mean, Allan has been absolutely killing it lately."
"When I get into the booth, broadcasting, for anything I do, I do research on the individual players," added Wylie. "I write it down in my little Braille computer that I have. The first time I came up in the [Captains] booth ... it felt like this is exactly where I belong, you know. I felt natural there."
Preparation, key to any job, is particularly important in the world of broadcasting. Wylie has been learning on the job, regarding the information he wants to convey as well as how he should do it.
"You've got to keep the viewers engaged, and how you can do that is you start little sidebar conversations," said Wylie. "For example, if a player went to Wake Forest, you could talk about their baseball team, the year that they were there, how good they were, how far they made it in the NCAA Tournament. ... It's really something that, I'll be honest, I'm still learning how to do. I have a good grip on it, I think, but I'm still learning more.
"Like, how would I want somebody to analyze, if I was listening? How would I want somebody to do that? And so I try to translate that -- how the perfect color commentator would be -- into the words I say, how I say them, and what conversations I have."
Wylie will have plenty more opportunities to learn, as he plans to major in broadcasting or sports communication in college. He says the reaction to his stint with the Captains has been "very positive" so far, as regards to both his professional development as well as spreading the larger message of inclusivity for others like him.
"I love to get the story of somebody with disabilities out there," he said. "Yes, you may have to do some things that are really hard work, but you can do it. If you put your mind to it, you can and will succeed."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.