Youth sports games are primarily for the enjoyment of participants, their proud parents, and other family members in attendance, and coaches who help their developing players improve.
In the case of Newtown youth baseball and basketball contests, the games also serve as an opportunity for an up-and-coming announcer to gain experience from the press box and scorer’s table, all the while adding to the at-the-field atmosphere for those team members and their families.
Robert Hutchins, who will enter his sophomore year at Newtown High School, has served as public address announcer for Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball, and Newtown Youth Basketball games since his first game in the press box at Glander Field in 2010.
Some 350 games — and who knows how many pitches, hits, shots, fouls, strikeouts, rainouts, and celebrations — later, he’s still welcoming fans and announcing names of Newtown athletes over the public address systems at area fields and gymnasiums.
Hutchins mainly announces baseball games (he’s been behind the microphone for, he believe, about 250 hardball contests) at Glander Field. He’s also worked in the press box at Bethel High School’s field for American Legion games; the Legion teams feature Bethel and Newtown sluggers. And, during the winter months, you can hear Hutchins’ voice emanating throughout any of the many gyms throughout town where he’s helped liven up probably 100 games on the hardwood throughout the years.
Some of his work is volunteer based, and some is paid, depending on the league or tournament. Hutchins is becoming a sports fixture here in town, and he’s only 15.
“I’m trying to get as much experience as I can now so, in the future, it can help me in my career,” said Hutchins, who is hoping to pursue announcing games at a professional level in the years to come.
He hopes to study journalism at Wake Forest University because of the school’s strong English department and the multitude of area minor league baseball teams for which he’s hoping to get his foot in the door. This school year, Hutchins plans to take a yearlong journalism elective to get some more experience.
“I can see myself in the booth of any stadium for any team. If I get an opportunity I’ll take it,” he said.
He’s been interested in announcing games since he was about 4 years old, Hutchins says. He first got involved when, in 2010, Randy Dieckman, then a youth baseball coach in town, gave him the opportunity to announce a game. David Hutchins, his dad, earns a big assist since he drives him to games.
“Just seeing the kids having a lot of fun and enjoying my services,” is the best part of the gig for Hutchins.
Throughout the years, he’s increased the number of games he announces and has also raised his responsibilities. Hutchins has incorporated keeping score of every game just for fun, and to keep track of his work, and also playing music between innings at baseball games.
The future Bob Sheppard hopeful now has his own equipment, including wireless microphone and speakers. A baseball once hit one of his speakers and it has a mark as a reminder.
Hutchins plays songs that are appropriate for situations in games. For example, during the late stages of a recent nail-biting baseball tournament game in town, Hutchins played “The Final Countdown” to help capture the moment.
The young announcer used to play baseball but has gotten so seriously into calling games that he gave up playing. He intends to take advantage of the slower fall season to get back onto the diamonds and play some fall ball. “I just miss the game, but announcing’s my true love,” he said.
The role of an announcer isn’t so easy. He’s got a lot of names to call, and the proper way to do so is to pronounce each of them accurately. Hutchins writes the lineups phonetically to be ready to announce each player’s name during a baseball or basketball game. He also welcomes fans and asks them to rise for the playing of the national anthem.
“Robert is big on preparation and details. Before games, he always asks the visiting coach about the pronunciation of his player’s names,” said Josh Hull, coach of the Admirals American Legion Junior team, for which Hull serves as PA announcer.
“During games, he’s all about timing. He cuts in and out at just the right points, which was really apparent this summer when he played individual walk-up songs for each of our American Legion batters,” Hull adds. “When the batter got to the plate, Robert faded the music and announced the batter’s name, like clockwork. It was totally professional.”