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In the Cougars' Den: Randazzo at home as scorer, too

Published: Friday, May 2, 2014 11:21 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, May 2, 2014 11:24 p.m. CST
Caption
Wayne Randazzo, play-by-play announcer and official scorekeeper for the Kane County Cougars, works a recent game at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva.

Wayne Randazzo strives to put a stamp on each of his baseball broadcasts.

Those multicolored markers by his side are simply a coincidence.

Actually, Randazzo’s red-for-strikeouts, pink-for-walks approach has come in special handy lately as he adds the role of official scorer at Cougars home games to his duties as the club’s radio play-by-play man for AM-1280 WBIG.

“I’m sitting there watching each play pretty candidly, anyway,” Randazzo said. “We don’t really have replay capability, so we just go with our gut instinct at the time.”

A St. Charles East graduate in his third season with the Cougars, Randazzo always has kept score throughout his broadcasting career, which included time with the Double-A Mobile (Ala.) Bay Bears before he acted on the chance to return home for the 2012 season.

He learned the color-coding system on his way up – it assists with quickening his recall on the air – but Randazzo never was the one to sign the official scorecard until recently.

Cougars media placement coordinator Bill Baker asked Randazzo to score a few games near the end of 2012, then bequeathed the duty full-time in 2013.

Juggling his other duties, including calling the New York offices of Major and Minor League Baseball Advanced Media after every half-inning with the game’s play by play, grew increasingly difficult for Baker, who had scored games since 2002.

If one inning featured a particularly perplexing sequence, that could compromise Baker’s attention when the other team came to bat. Baker happily offers consultation if Randazzo needs it, but attests that things grow more comfortable with every batter, inning and game.

“A wild pitch is a wild pitch. A ground ball that the third baseman just butchers is a ground ball that he just butchers. He knows it’s an error and I know it’s an error,” said Baker, also the radio voice of Northern Illinois football and men’s basketball since 1980.

“There are a few times every so often when I look at [Randazzo] and he looks at me. That stare on his face as if to say, ‘What are you going to call that one?’ ”

Randazzo learned quickly that discretion varies depending on the level of baseball.

“It’s not Starlin Castro trying to make that play,” he said, “it’s an A-ball shortstop.”

Baker describes as rare the cases when he has had to answer to a manager disputing a given ruling upon receiving the box score after the game.

When that happened, he reverted to his memory bank and the specifics of what prompted him to write either “1B” or “E.”

“What I think is a hit might not be a hit to someone else,” Baker said, “but that’s the human element.”

Randazzo is not traveling with the Cougars this season as other broadcast opportunities grow. He also is working with AM-670, AM-720 and the Big Ten Network, among other outlets.

While keeping score adds another responsibility to his plate, he knows he’s sharp enough to be prepared.

Errors are purple, singles are green and the difference is in the eye of the beholder.

Who's hot

Will Remillard, part of the Cougars' deep catching rotation, is hitting .514 (18 for 35) in his past 10 starts, including a three-hit game Tuesday.

Who's not

Right fielder Yasiel Balaguert batted .143 (2 for 14) in the Cougars' four-game series at Cedar Rapids this week.

Star watch

Burlington, the Class-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, entered the season with three promising right-handers as part of it staff. Baseball America rates Victor Alcantara (15th), Mike Clevinger (17th) and Joe Krehbiel (23rd) among the Angels' top 30 prospect. Burlington began a three-game series against the Cougars Friday.

Noteworthy

The Cougars played .720 ball in April, going 18-7 for the best opening month in the club's 24-year history. The 2003 team (18-8, .692) and 2008 club (17-8, .680) follow. ... Fifth Third Bank Ballpark welcomes back summertime staples old and new this weekend, beginning with Friday's inaugural fireworks show of 2014. Today, the high-flying Jesse White Tumblers will perform postgame, maintaining the routine after every Saturday home game through the rest of the season. On Sunday, former longtime White Sox organist Nancy Faust returns to her perch behind home plate to play before and during all remaining Sunday home games. ... Outfielder Trevor Gretzky joined Burlington from extended spring training late last month and entered Friday batting .133 (2 for 15) in four games. A Cougar for 14 games in 2013, Gretzky was traded to the Angels organization late in spring training. ... Burlington Central students will be part of the Cougars' latest high school sports business seminar, scheduled for before Wednesday's 11 a.m. game against Wisconsin.

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