CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - ?
When the Charleston RiverDogs hit the field tonight, their game will be watched by many more than the few thousand fans in the stands on Thirsty Thursday.
CBS Sports Network will be at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park to nationally broadcast tonight's game against the Kannapolis Intimidators, which is serving as Minor League Baseball's "Game of the Week". This is the first time the Single-A South Atlantic League Affiliate for the New York Yankees will host a game on the national stage.
Noel Blaha, Director of Marketing for the RiverDogs, helped spearhead the effort to bring the broadcast to The Joe. He says CBS Sports Network initially used the weekly Thursday night program to showcase AAA and other higher affiliated teams, but eventually opened up the process to every minor league team, which the RiverDogs jumped on.
"We filled out an application form and said why we'd like to host, some of the fun elements we could bring to the broadcast, storylines, etcetera, and submitted that," explained Blaha. "We then heard back from Minor League Baseball that we'd been selected to host tonight."
Among the fun elements that the RiverDogs listed on their application included the beauty and history of Charleston, the potential viewership draw from being a Yankees affiliate, and of course, Bill Murray.
"He's not officially out here, and I'm not certain if he is even in town, but as Bill often does, he could just show up. He is on his own schedule," said Blaha. "If he shows up, I'm sure he will get a spot front and center on camera."
Blaha says CBS Network will be using six cameras throughout the stadium during tonight's broadcast, and outside of having to move one of the RiverDogs broadcast cameras, everything should be smooth sailing from a video production point of view.
As for the radio broadcast, well, that is going to take a little additional work.
"I'm not going to be in the home radio booth like I've been for every other game I've done here," says Sean Houston, the voice of the RiverDogs. "I'm going to be kind of behind home plate on the concourse above section 109."
Houston says he has been trying to think of creative ways to announce the games over radio since he joined the team three years ago. When he found out CBS Sports Network would be taking over his radio booth for tonight's game, he placed a call to Play It Again Sports in Mt. Pleasant and made the unusual request.
"I'm going to broadcast the game while walking on the treadmill, which is going to be very interesting," said Houston.
With the kind of heat that has been sizzling the Lowcountry the past couple weeks, Houston says he plans to stick with walking in order to keep up the integrity of the promotion and the broadcast. That means he will be constantly moving in place from 7 p.m. when the pregame show begins until the final word on the postgame show, which could be well past 10 p.m.
As far as promotions go, the treadmill broadcast will add to the RiverDogs fun history, but has some stiff competition.
"Here for Charleston, it's not going to touch some of the things they've done in the past. Nobody Night, where literally zero fans were allowed in the ballpark. The Silent Night, where nobody was allowed to make noise. Some of those legendary promotions that no one will ever touch," Houston recalled. "But in terms of a radio broadcast, I think it's up there. It certainly is challenging. Breathing is an underrated part of broadcasting a game."
Houston also cited keeping hydrated, and possible bathroom breaks as other challenges that he will have to overcome during tonight's broadcast.
But those obstacles aside, Houston says he is excited for tonight's big broadcast and is ready to have a great time.
"We are expecting a near capacity crowd. Budweiser Thirsty Thursday always draws a big crowd and we've been heavily promoting the national broadcast," said a very hydrated Houston. "We're excited to be able to showcase not only The Joe, but also Charleston. They do a nice job highlighting the cities they are in and their broadcasts are very good."
For those hoping to get their face on television, tickets for tonight's game are still available and can be purchased online or at the box office. CBS Sports Network is available on AT&T U-Verse channel 643, DirecTV channel 221, and Dish Network channel 158.