BILLINGS — Gary Roller, the general manager of the Billings Mustangs, calls it dumb luck. Right place at the right time, he says.
Maybe he’s right. But there’s a reason why doing radio play-by-play in the dead of summer, in a bus league, with few days off, is such a sought-after position. It’s baseball. And it’s with the Mustangs.
Most in the sports business will tell you doing baseball on a daily basis is the true test of a broadcaster. With so much down time (and there is so much down time in the game, especially now), baseball challenges play-by-play men and women to have a vast knowledge of the players and to be a good story-teller. There is a lot of space to fill between actual game action.
At some point, the Mustangs began to build a reputation as a good landing sport for broadcasters. And not just for the up-and-comers looking to build resumes. Billings also became a place for established broadcasters — particularly those in other sports — to test their baseball chops.
Dave Walsh had called football games for the University of Wyoming. But he wanted to do Mustangs games. Mark Boyle had 17 years in with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, but he thought Billings would be a good place to spend a summer. Same with Jerry Schemmel, who had 14 seasons in with the Denver Nuggets.
Roller would take phone calls from the likes of these broadcasters and wonder what was going on.
“It was a little strange,” Roller said Tuesday as the Mustangs’ front office prepared for another season, which begins Friday at Dehler Park. “I should be calling you actually, not you calling me.”
The winners, of course, were those Mustangs fans who chose to spend their nights listening to games on the radio. And as current Mustangs play-by-play announcer Dustin Daniel preps for his fourth season with the team, we take a look back on the past couple decades to highlight a few former broadcasters and see what they thought of Billings and what they’re up to now.
406mtsports.com reached each of the following six broadcasters via email, and here is some of what they sent back: