It’s spring training time. Just ask Dewayne Staats. He’ll tell you.
How could any Rays fan not be smiling this week?
A couple of facts. The Super Bowl has been played. Over in Port Charlotte, at Charlotte Sports Park, the Rays’ clubhouse has its doors swung wide open. It’s officially MLB time again.
Hello, 2024 season. The Rays will be fielding a roster for the 27th consecutive season in the American League, and Dewayne Staats has been along for the ride since the beginning.
49 years in broadcasting. More than 7,000 games called on radio and TV. Still, even for a baseball veteran like him, Staats is thrilled to see the cover removed from another season of Rays baseball.
“Spring is a time of renewal,” said Staats during a recent phone conversation. “When I get to the park, I pinch myself that I get to do this again.”
Baseball fans in the “Sunshine State” and beyond, when thinking about how the Rays will compete in another season, separating Staats from any analysis is impossible.
Thanks to Bally Sports Sun, since the club’s inaugural season of 1998, viewers have been educated on the intricacies of how the game works and why, thanks to Staats’ keen eye for the not-so-obvious.
Rays' baseball will be shown this coming season on Bally Sports Sun, as in previous years. For many area backers of the Rays, it’s a relief knowing that Staats will be leading an on-air crew to deliver the best insight on how the club is doing and why.
For the Rays and other MLB camps, February 13 is the first official reporting day for pitchers and catchers. From scheduled workouts and players catching up on off-season happenings, the Rays begin their home Grapefruit League schedule on February 24, their first of 13 at Charlotte Sports Park, against the Atlanta Braves.
Before making his way south for his first spring telecast, Staats easily and sincerely reflects on the position he still holds with viewers. He speaks of having conversations with his wife, Carla, about beating the odds and the wonderful life that has been given to him.
“You have to believe in miracles. The stops along the way in my career have allowed me to meet great people like Gene Elston, Jack Buck, Harry Kalas, Harry Carey, and Tony Kubek, people who I am in awe with,” says Staats, who has called ten no-hitters during his career.
Once baseball gets in your blood, it’s hard for anyone to walk away from the game. Staats firmly believes that baseball is the people’s game. Go to work or school, turn on a radio or TV, and it’s a great tonic to escape from life’s daily demands, to listen to the competitiveness of two teams dueling in the summer.
Rays’ fans noticed last season that Staats took some time off, and there’s a good chance that the same scheduling will be in play in 2024. But Staats isn’t going away from Bally audiences.
Staats, who began his MLB radio and TV career back in 1977 with the Houston Astros, explains the off-season allows him to catch his breath, sit back, and spend more time with his family.
Three grandchildren are at the top of his “must-do” list. Along with his two daughters and his wife Carla, Staats counts his blessing on the life he has.
When baseball comes back into the picture each February, the smell of the grass, the crack of balls being batted, and friendships being renewed at Charlotte Sports Park, Staats is good to go.
Names of the game who made their reputations on the field, in the dugout, or in the broadcast booths at the stadiums, Staats has stories of them all to share. A scheduled brief conversation with Staats easily surpasses any budgeted time. At the conclusion, it’s a draw on who enjoyed the back–and–forth most, Staats or the reporter. It is clear both parties are smiling.
There was the talk about Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau (and broadcast booth all-star), and the wonderful experiences Staats enjoyed with him. Staats also tells of “riding shotgun” to broadcasting legend Harry Carey in Arizona many years back during spring training.
Carey informed Staats that he was not going to be his mentor, but all that the broadcaster in his 30s at the time had to do was look and listen to the great one doing what he did best for decades. Growing listening to St. Louis Cardinals’ games, it was not too much of a stretch for Staats to want to follow in Carey and Buck’s shadows.
Fans and those employed at the ballparks he finds himself working Rays’ games at, they are up there on Staats’ importance list in baseball.
“These are the same people you come back to see year after year. The parking attendants, stadium elevator operators, security people, the clubbies, they are adding to the human touch of the baseball experience I look forward to,” Staats tells.
Staats is clearly proud of the fraternity that he is included in. Broadcasters are important to him. It is important for everyone to appreciate and respect their hometown broadcasters. They are the storytellers to the fans. While a 9-year-old and listening to his AM radio late on summer nights, Staats finds joy in sharing his memories of pulling in, from Texas, big league baseball of the expansion Houton Colt .45s.
A reason Staats is so darn good at educating Rays’ fans is the fan in him has not diminished. Telling the truth is a simple but vital rule that Staats adheres to. Entertaining yet at the same time explaining the nuances of the game remains front and center for Staats.
It’s safe to say that Tampa baseball fans see Staats as their friend. They offer, as he does, their undivided attention during broadcasts.
To remain current, and to hopefully have an advantage while at work, Staats keeps a small black book on Rays’ opponents. Team situations, certain player strengths and weaknesses are recorded. Each game recordings are updated on certain players.
Most of Staats’ game prep is done at home. Influenced by Elston, a Ford C. Frick Award winner, (presented annually to a broadcaster for “major contributions to baseball”), Staats recalls his former partner during the days of no laptop computers.
“Gene kept team stats meticulously,” Staats recalls.
Trusted sources are earned not created. Of the eight-member on-air TV broadcast crew, Staats will lead the charge for another season of Rays baseball. With his familiar voice, Staats is teaching viewers of all ages and levels of understanding of the game, each Bally Sports Sun telecast.
Baseball is back, from February and beyond. Amongst all the fun, Staats is on the watch for all of us fans. It all starts this week, again, in Port Charlotte.
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