The Ranger Report Podcast
The Ranger Report Podcast

Episode 95 · 4 months ago

A Conversation With Texas Rangers Radio Broadcaster Matt Hicks

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Presented by Dallas Sports Nation and brought to you in part by Waltons. Ben and CJ talk with Texas Rangers radio network broadcaster Matt Hicks. Matt and the guys discuss his career as a broadcaster going all the way back to how he got started in the business to his relationship with Eric Nadel. They talk about hobbies outside of baseball and even discuss his other broadcasting jobs over the years. Get to know Matt Hicks on this episode of the Ranger Report Podcast! 

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This is Texas Rangers Announcer Eric Dad Allen. You're listening to the ranger report PODCAST, as you should do. This's the ranger report podcast. News, insights, predictions, interviews and information about the Texas Rangers, from the major leagues to the Minor Leagues and now here are your host been deeter and CJ berryman experience the joy of watching your friends at families faces light up when you feed them while game you harvested and made them. This is sausages or meet you barbecue and grew with the finest season he's available. Visit our friends at Walton'Scom to find everything you need to learn wild game and the tasty meat snacks or spice up your barbecue with new flavors and seasonings. With over five hundred seasonings to choose from, there's something that everyone will love. They even have step by step videos and how to articles at beaches six to help you go from animal to edible. Use Coupon at Rangers, fifteen at check ops, a fifteen percent on your first order at Waltonscom. Walton's everything but the meat. Welcome to the Ranger report PODCAST. Every day, Buddy. We are excited today to be joined by Matt hecks from the Rangers Radio Network. Matt, how are you today? I'm great and thanks for having me. All appreciate the yeah, honor is all here, sir, the honor is all here. So we were just talking about before we started, before you came on the we've now had you, Eric and Jared Sandler, so you pretty much got the whole radio booth on the show. Now. That's that's good and and I'm fine sliding in third there. Those two guys great. Love working with them on a daily basis during the sea. Yeah, I figured we had to get Zach Walchuk at some point. Two, and then what? We'll round it all out, and then grooves and then then groups. Yeah, they're all fun, they're all great guys. They are all right.

Well, we wanted to start asking you had talked a little bit about you, because ranger fans may not know they've heard you on the radio now for almost a decade, but they may not know about how you got into what you do. So I wanted to ask you how did you get into broadcasting and was it always something that you kind of wanted to do? So I guess there's a number of ways. I can answer that, but maybe the maybe the best way to answer it is back in one thousand nine hundred and seventy two, when I was eleven years old, a friend of mine and I, we were both in sixth grade and we we were living in the suburbs of Washington DC and I both of us were enamored with not just all sports but with sports broadcast, and so I said to my friend, I said, hey, why don't we take my tape for for and just turned down the sound on the Super Bowl and go ahead and record US doing play by play of the Super Bowl? And if I can't tell you how many times I've done that, Matt, I've done the same thing. Well, I was in the sixth grade and that now realize. My friend and I, we were growing up in the suburbs of PC and I don't recall my friend being a Washington football fan, but I was because my dad was. He was a an usher for those football games back then, and this was before they hired George Allen and they got really, really good, and so the attendance wasn't always the greatest. But anyway, my friend and I thought, let's do some play by play and see what happens. So My dad was gracious enough to let us sit in our living room. We got the copy of the Washington Post and the rosters for Super Bowl six, which was the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Golf and neither one of US had any kind of diffinity for either of those teams. But, you know, we studied the rosters and we split it up. I did two quarters, he...

...did two quarters, and I still have that cassette tape. I still have those two cassette tapes but I haven't translated them into something where I can listen to them. I'm probably going to get that done here sooner rather than later, although I've had it for the longest time. But I knew back then that it was something that I wanted to do and so there wasn't really an avenue for that either in junior high school or high school, although in high school I did morning an afternoon announcements and so I was involved in getting behind the mic there. And then it really ramped up when I went to college at the University of Maryland, because they had and still do have a student run radio station on campus at am and FM Station. While I was there in the late s and early s the station got it to FM license and so I had to get an FCC license to go on the air. We did sports broadcasting on both am and FM and I did a variety of sports and I eventually became the sports director. Quick side note. When I was the sports director, one of the individuals that I brought on to be on our sportscasting team was a guy from Bucks County, Pennsylvania who would later go on to do work in minor league baseball but then eventually made it to the state of Texas and did a lot of work on TV for the San Antonio Spurs and he's now the voice of Texas a and M football and basketball, Andrew Monaco, and so I've known him going all the way back to college. But we had I had the opportunity to do play by play of the number of sports and then graduating from the University of Maryland, I got a job right out of college in small market radio. You Cambridge Maryland. You guys probably have never heard of that. It's an eastern short town on the Chop Pank River. We're still trying to figure out where all the Texas cities are sociated. Stuff well, that takes forever. Two hundred and fifty four...

...counties right. Yeah, yes, sir. So. So I got my first job in radio red at of college in Cambridge. That was a station that was on the University of Maryland Network and at the time Maryland football coach was Bobby Ross and I don't know if you know him, but he is served number of teams in college and also coached in the NFL. Bobby was gracious enough to because I had done a show with him when I was in college, he'd be gracious enough to allow me to do a show exclusively with him on our radio station in Cambridge. But I have the opportunity to do both views and sports broadcasting there at that small mom and pop a n that been station. And then I had a number of other job before I got into baseball. In one thousand nine hundred and eighty nine I got hired by a radio station in Frederick, Maryland, which is about an hour west of Baltimore, to do their new ball club. They had just gotten a minor league team, the Frederick Key's, who had moved from Hagerstown, Maryland, and the radio station was hiring the play by play announcer and so I put my two cents and I got hired worked for the radio station to do those games. I eventually parlayed that into a full time job at that radio station and the guy that was responsible for outreach from Mount St Mary's College in Himmittsburg, Maryland and heard me do baseball play byplay. He won did the Mount Saint Mary's men's team to have full every game coverage on a network and so he worked with us to get that set up until for a while there I was doing baseball for five months and then for another four or five months I was doing men's basketball and eventually women's basketball anound saying Mary's. And if you don't know about mound sat mary, that's where Jim Falan was the longtime head coach. He was there were a division two power. They had just gone...

...to vision one the year before I joined them in ninety. So I got an opportunity to do quite a bit of play by play there when I was in Frederick. And then from from Frederick my next job in baseball moving to El Paso, Texas to work for the then diablows, who were an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewery. I'll pass so diablow Yep, and I got I got hired by them, and so now there that. Now the that Chua was. Yeah, so back then we were double a, an affiliate of Milwaukee. I got hired by Jim and Karen Paul to do their play byplay, and so that was the first time I work for a baseball team. Actually, the Guy I replaced Matt bad version, who is now on the MLB network, of course, and he does a lot of work for them and he's their main playbypy voice. He also now is one of the play byplay voices of the angel but I replaced Maddiev back in nineteen ninety five would have been my first season in El Paso. Then from El Paso I went to Corpus Christie for that startup team. In two thousand and five, the double a affiliate of the Houston Astros, working then for Ryan Sanders Baseball, and it was in Corpus crusty was where I was with the Rangers called me back in two thousand and twelve. So that's a quick overview of how I got in going from sixth grade. Yeah, you summed it up pretty well. And so obviously did some high school football and also some hockey. So other than baseball, what was you what what was or is your favorite sport to call? Yeah, so I don't I don't know if I can put date the favorite title on it. I'm it when you're working and when you got the headset strapped one you're getting paid to do it. Those are my favorite whatever I'm doing. But I'll say this that the easiest for me is...

...basketball. I think the ship the easiest. The easiest would be basketball. Matt, basketball was my it's always been my most difficult man. Well, the reason that I the reason that I think that it's the easiest for me is is that it's not as fast as hocking. You when you're doing ice hockey, you have to edit as you go along and to me that's a skill that requires experience in the more experience you have, the better at it you get, because you can't possibly describe everything that's happening on the ice, but you can come pretty close to describing what's happening just about everything on the basketball court. You might have to edit a little bit, but you never really have any downtime and I was I was really fortunate. Guess. I've done a ton of high school basketball and football. I've even done not necessarily high school baseball, but American Legion baseball. I've done little league baseball and those can be some very challenging things because you really don't have you all the prepped work and it's, you know, it's not like Major League Baseball, but you have so much of the work that is already prepared for you. But for me, doing college basketball was probably the easiest for me and I had a great deal of fun those six years that I was announced Sing Mary. All six years I did the men. For three of the six years I did the women, and just going to the practice is preparing for those games and broadcasting those games. I had a terriffic broadcast partner during my time. They're a gentleman by the name of Royce Sigler who had been a head coach at Boston University for their basketball program and when he left, Rick Pettino took over. Hello, wow, wow, yeah, Roy was Roy was made for basketball analysis work. He was so good at it and we developed such a good chemistry of me, you know, at him making a point...

...about a play or why that offensive play work or why it didn't work. What sort of defense mount was getting into. He was able to condense and distill his thought into the type of time frame that allowed me to pick up the play byplay when it was important. So I didn't necessarily have to talk about the guy bringing the ball up the court on the dribble what it was he was looking to do. When the play got serious, Roy got quiet. I was able to describe the play when it was done. He was able to and he always had this sense of enthusiasm about him so that the broadcast just always seemed to be getting better and better, and so I really cherish the six years that I had the opportunity to work with Roy and coach fail and all the good folks back in Dammittsburg. So to me that was a great deal of fun. I can say this. I've never had the opportunity to do NBA basketball, but I have had the opportunity when I was much younger, to go court side at the then the Washington bullets game and do some play byplay court side, and there is a quite a bit of Difference Between Division One basketball and the NBA in terms of speed and so I think when you're doing the NBA, Kudos to all of those guys because the game is so much faster that they do have to edit as they go along. But yeah, for me basketball is the easiest. Baseball is always been a challenge because of all the dead time. Football I really enjoyed doing, especially if you have somebody that's good to work with, because if you if you memorize all of the skill, position, players, numbers and whatever you can do to memorize, then calling football play byplay, I think, is very enjoyable. But I've always found baseball to be the most challenge. Yeah, and you. Unfortunately, this past year you had to go through a...

...hundred two losses. So there's a lot of dead are there. And Eric mid ill, when he got on with us about a month ago, he said he learned a versionary tactics and that's that's where you and and jared sandler come in to kind of, you know, continue to appease the audience, I guess, and keep people listening. So I mean those have to be difficult games. So talk about that a little bit. You know those you know when that when the game is going great, I mean you can sit there and you can brag on the team and Brag on somebody. So and so and how will they're doing, or how with her pitching or whatever. But when the game is going badly and you know about the five, fifth or six inning that things are not going well, you'll have a great dynamic. So just kind of talk about how that dynamic works. Yeah, I think you know. I think that all emimates from Eric because he's been doing it for such a long time and he's had the opportunity to call some great ranger season and some really bad rangers seasons and a lot of seasons that are in between. So you can't replace that experience for knowing where to take the listener based upon what's happening in the game and your right to you, Jake, you're in the fifth or sixth sending and you're down ten to one, you really can't concentrate so much on the game and on the pitch by pitch. But when a new pitcher comes in or when somebody is coming in off the bench as a position player and you can talk a little bit about their story, then those diversionary tax that tactics are you giving the listeners an interesting information about the people that are coming into the game or about what a pitcher who may not have done well, what it is that the club is looking for from him, what he needs to improve on, where he needs to go. You might even tell stories about you know, if you know stuff about these guys families or or some interesting tidbits about them coming up in baseball,...

...that's when you're able to use that sort of stuff. And then you know there's other things going on in the world of baseball, so you might take some time to talk about some of the other pennant races or the upcoming opponent, or you know how the Rangers pitching rotation is going to be altered. There's so many different things than you can discuss. And then, you know, sometimes the diversionary tactics just go completely away from baseball and into into something that might be historic for that particular day. Or you might get off on a tangent that's not baseball. Or Jared might start commenting about my dad shoes and on that tangent where he starts talking about how I dress and then used to be that I would start making fun of where he went to college. But I can't do that. ha ha ha ha ha ha. The same schools USC Trojan. We can ask him on this podcast. Maddie, I think there's I think the the big thing, I think, when you're talking about Broadcasting Games, that the game itself doesn't hold interest. Eric every day, and I really admire how he goes about preparing for a game every day. Eric, on a daily basis, comes to work and says to himself, what about this game is interesting to me? But more than that, what about this game would be interesting to the listener? What about the people that are playing in the game tonight would be interesting for the listener? So let me find those things and let me line them up. What is going to be interesting to the listener today? If the game takes over and if we've got a four hundred and twenty three game going into the eighth, Thenn and then all of that preparation for the diversionary tactics goes by the wayside...

...and you don't know how much work eric put in or I put in and jared put in, the stuff that never gets on the air and the gamings up being great and it's beautiful because that's what we want. But on those occasions when it's not like that, then that's, I think, where Eric has really been able to shine through over the years because in his mind he puts the listener for and then by keeping the listener in mind, that guides his preparation, and so watching him do that throughout the years to sort of helped me to better prepare for each broadcast. And Jared's unique because he grew up as a kid listening to Eric and so he's got that perspective and then watching him work as well, he too has picked up a lot of that, and so I think that that that helps because now we're all on the same page, or at least you're trying to be on the same page as Eric on a nightly basis. Yeah, and then Eric One thing he told us it was most interesting, is that they don't pay all to do the Games. They pay you to the preparation. That's true. There's no question about that, because I know a lot of people wonder, well, you guys got great jobs, got you work from seven to ten or ten thirty three, three and a half hours of work that and that ain't how that happens. I can totally deep debunk that there satly, because we'll get to work for an o'clock game, for a home game, usually buy around three and then spend most of that time between three and about thirty preparing for the game. If schedules are normal, then we'll take a little bit of a break before the game starts to eat while the pregame show is on. We take pregame show in advance. Yeah, I don't eat in the booth. Come on now and get you get your dollar dog on Wednesdays, man. So sometimes we'll eat in the booth. That can hear. In the last two years because of covid yeah, we've been eating in the booth almost exclusively,...

...if we eat at all. And now Eric and jared a little are a little different than be there. They're pretty good about eating right before the game. I'm not so good about that because it bothers me from a physical standpoint in my throat. So a lot of times I won't eat at all before a game. I might eat right before I come to work, sort of a late lunch kind of thing. But going over to the new Ballpark, I can't think there's not been one time that I've eaten in the media kitchen or in the media dining room. I haven't done it once. Used to be that we would, we would eat, you know two thousand and nineteen and prior we would eat in the media dining room and talk with other people and exchange information and whatnot, but for the last two seasons that that hasn't happened. But Anyway, our preparation doesn't start. Will we get in the Ballpark at three o'clock? I think for all of us, when we get up in the morning, the Rangers do this a really nice thing for us. They gather a series of clips of all of the articles that have been written about the ball club that day, and so we have an opportunity to get up in the morning and read that and then do our own prep. Sometimes, you know, I'll start my prep for the next day immediately after the game at the ballpark where, you know, I've got my laptop and I can go online and I can update some of my dailies and get that done while it's fresh on my mind, immediately after the game, and then the next day read those clips, do other reading before I have lunch at home or go out to lunch and and get to the ballpark and then start that cycle all over again. And then it's the same on the road if we're on the road someplace for a seven o'clock game. I you know, are when we get to the ballpark is often dictated by the bus schedules. But because of COVID, instead of having two buses going to a Ballpark, sometimes we've had four or five, so they've ever be fewer people on the bus. So that makes it easier to get to the ballpark when you...

...want to. But in general we try to get there three and a half to four hours before game time. Yeah, you know a lot of people, well, you know, probably think do you guys just wing that stuff, but that would be almost impossible during a game like that to just wing that kind of stuff. Because, I'm telling you, and and I honestly like I listen to you guys a lot because I'm usually out and about or, you know, when I get home. It's just enjoyable to listen to it. Plus it's hard to find vallet sports south lets these days. But anyway, but listen to you guys on the rail is just fun. And you guys, I mean you guys, do I such a great job. And again, you know, all the preth that goes into that show is because it's even when they're down ten to one, it's still entertaining to listen to you guys on the radio. Thank you. Yeah, and again, I think Eric deserves a lot of the credit for that and the way he prepares. When you think about it, you know, he got the Ford Frick Award back in two thousand and fourteen and he just decided to show up and just, you know, lace them up and bring out the score book at six forty five and start writing stuff in. That'd be okay, but he doesn't do that and he hasn't done that. He continues to prepare on a daily basis like he always had. And so when when the chief is doing that, you've got to fall in line. And but even saying it that way, it's just such a pleasure to work with him. You know, I think that we're friends away from the broadcast as well, and so and we have a lot of other common interest I think. You know, Eric is so musically inclined. Yeah, and goes to so many concerts. I'm not quite the concert goer that he is, but we can talk about music, we can talk about other sports, we can talk about other things that are going on in the world. So there's never there's never a time when we're at work. If we're not preparing that we don't have a conversation about, you know, something that's going on in the world at that time. So you mentioned theyde'll. Yeah, he's he's a big music guy and...

...he actually, when he was on with us, turn me onto a Texas blues artist that's out of the DFW and that is Abraham Alexander, and we are actually going to have him on the podcast tomorrow. So what do you think about Abraham and then what he brings the table? He and I don't and when it comes to artists like that, I just don't know these artists like Eric does, and it's amazing he's got he's got a roll the decks of Yap. Mean it's crazy. It's amazing how many people he knows, not just in the sports industry, but how many people he knows in the music industry. It's amazing. When we go on the road before Covid we would have a constant stream of people that would come and be visitors in our book and most of them are from the music world, people who are musicians, people who are authors. It's it's funny. We kind of joke a little bit. There's so many people that Eric still knows from his time in elementary school in Brooklyn gone on to accomplish great things. One of my one of my favorite stories about Eric and the people he knows was a time that we were eating in the media dining room at fenway park and it was one of those deals we had both finished. There were a couple of other people at the table with us that they had to get to work, so they got up and left and there was an awkward them in a very rare awkward moment when Eric and I are sitting there. We talked about everything we want to talk about for the game and there's this silence of about five or ten seconds and right in the middle of the table, as is the case of all the tables, there are an assortment of condiments and Eric reaches for this mustard jar and he holds up this mustard jars, gold mustard, and he looks at it and he says to me, the guy that started this gold...

...mustard business. I'm in the elementary ha ha ha ha. Are you kidding me? There's a condiment sitting on the table and he went to school with the guy that started does he know who made salt and Pepper Er, is there anybody that you don't know? It's truly amazing how many people he knows, and that is that is one of the many great things about art and Adelle is how he has seen contact with so many people throughout the years, and so it's not surprising to be when he says, Oh, this particular musician who maybe I haven't heard of because they're not they're not a popular musician, or they're not a musician, for be from the S S, you know, artist that I would listen to, that we are more popular. He knows these people, they made they're actual friends of it. So it's fun to be able to on occasion, go to concerts with him and see some of these artists I've never even heard of before, I've never heard their music, and and have an opportunity to enjoy that kind of music. And so with Abraham, I don't know him, I don't know his muse it, but I would certainly because, you know, Eric turned you on too him, I would certainly be interested in listening to this stuff. Well, I'm going to sing with him tomorrow. Oh, there you go. I'm going to sing with him. I guy can sing, and so I mean it. Me and Abraham I've already agreed we're going to do a duet without to one of his songs. Yeah, that'll be cool. All right. Well, before we wrap it up, I always like to ask this when we have guests on. What is a hobby or something you like to do outside of baseball that Rangers fans don't really know about? WHOO, I mean most most players say golf. So well, and I'm going to like going to default to that because I am not a golfer, but here recently my...

...wife and I have been going quite frequently to top golf and we've gone to a number of top golf locations, not just in the Metroplex, that elsewhere, and we try to do it at least once or twice a month. So that's something that we've sort of gotten into here and that's just been in the last year or so. But I would say that for me, something that I've done throughout my life is play chest and I think probably some of our listeners know about that. I used to when I when I kept up my USCF membership, I used to play in tournaments. That was prior to joining the Rangers and Major League Baseball, when I had a little more time in the offseason to do that sort of thing. The most recent tournaments that I played in I played in when I was working for Corpus Christie. So I think the last actual tournament that I played in would have been some time in two thousand and eleven or two thousand and twelve. But I kind of try to keep up with the chess world and for a while when my son was an elementary school I was a coach at his elementary school. So anytime anybody wants to talk chest or play chess, I get into it. I played chess with some of the guys. I'll be here, huckleberry, I said I'll be here, huckleberry. I was in the chess clube until I was sixteen. Yeah, and I I was it when I was in junior high. Chest was huge in the United States because Bobby Fisher Yep just defeated Boris Spasky for one thousand nine hundred and seventy two world's title, and the others I was in junior high was seventy three, seventy four, seventy five, and so all junior highs and high school basically had chess teams pop up then and we had a we had a really good one in my final year and junior high we went on beaten. I went to the county tournament, I almost represented the county and the national tournament I was I was one position...

...shy of doing that and then by the time I got to high school with kind of fizzled out and so we didn't have a we didn't have a chess club in high school. But but you know, so many people got into it with the the advent of Bobby Fisher and I think here in recent years of a lot of kids across the country that have gotten into it. I follow what goes on at the top level of chests and Magnus Carlson here not too long ago defended his title as world champion. I think it's the fifth time he's defended his title. So I kind of follow what's going on there, but I wouldn't necessarily call it a hobby. But then you know, my wife and I are both big hockey fans, so we're both stars fans. We follow the stars. My wife is from Buffalo show she's a a big sabers fan and she's also a big bills fan. So they're gon we're gonna do the whole buffalo thing for the game against the Patriots. It's the Patriots that there playing, right. Yeah, I believe so. So, how always are playing the forts too. So it's like it's like a early s all over again, exactly. So, but we're going to do the whole buffalo thing, we're going to get chicken wings, we're going to get deep on Weck and we're going to try to root the bills on to victories. All right. So last question. This one's the hardest one. You are on the hot seat back. What is your go to a water burger? All right, so my for what a Burger I concentrate on breakfast and so my go to it what a burger would be a breakfast on a Bun with sausage. That would be my water burger go to. That is delicious. Yep. Yeah, well, a lot of players that we've talked to...

...me ask that question. Most of them say the honey better chicken. This Connie's let it go chickncat for breakfast. I can tell you. I can tell you that my son's go to is the I might not know the name of it, but it's the barbecue chicken strip sandwich, barbecue chicken, shrimp sandwich hip. And so when he came back for the holidays from USC the first thing he wanted to do was to go to water burger and get that sandwich. So I took a smart boy. SMART. Yeah, he knows his roots. He knows his roots. Well, Matt Hanks, we really appreciate your time tonight. Guys. Thank you very much. I enjoyed bobbing. Thanks for listening to the Ranger report PODCAST. Find us on twitter, facebook and at the Ranger reportcom.

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