Baseball's been good to the man behind the mic

New Folsom resident and River Cats broadcaster achieves childhood dream
By: Matt Long, Telegraph Sports Editor
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Growing up in southern California, Johnny Doskow loved listening to the Dodgers’ Vin Scully call baseball games and Chick Hearn broadcast Laker games. He said he knew someday he wanted to be just like them. As a youngster, Doskow would often pretend to interview his family. Now 44, Doskow is in his 11th season as the voice of the Sacramento River Cats and can be heard on AM 650, broadcasting all 144 River Cats games. After living in Sacramento for a decade, Doskow moved to Folsom in January. What is your background in baseball? “I played a little bit in high school, but I wasn’t a very good hitter. I played the field and had a designated hitter bat for me. I ran out of talent early and started broadcasting games in college.” When did you know when you wanted to be an announcer? “I grew up listening to Vin Scully and Chick Hearn and I always knew then that I wanted to be a broadcaster. I used to hold a pencil as a microphone and interview my family growing up. I’d turn down the TV and broadcast the games myself. I knew some day I was going to do that. When I got my first job calling baseball in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, I became addicted to calling baseball. Now I can’t imagine not calling games.” Who are your favorite announcers? “Growing up it was Vin Scully and Chick Hearn, but I’ve enjoyed listening to Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper with the Giants. They’re fun to listen to.” What’s the best broadcasting tip you’ve ever received? “Be yourself, be honest with the listeners and try not to forecast (what you think is going to happen).” Is broadcasting easier or harder than people think? “I definitely feel that I’m fortunate to be able to do it. Some days it’s more challenging than others. A 3-2 game that’s a great game and that’s when the job is easy. When it’s 15-1 and it’s sloppy, that’s when it’s tough. It’s different every day. The games are always different. My job is to paint the picture for the listeners.” What are some unique memories you have from your broadcasting career? “In my first season I was in Burlington, Iowa, and there was a crowd of about nine for a doubleheader. There was a woman, about 65 years old, who was sitting in front of my crowd mic and she had her Copenhagen can with her. She was spitting and cursing the whole game. There was a game when I was in High Desert when our mascot got kicked out. I also made a kid cry in the booth. There was a kid who won a spelling bee and he got to come in the booth. So I asked him how to spell a word and he misspelled it and I gave him the big buzzer sound and he started crying. I felt like a fool. It wasn’t my greatest moment.” What is your most memorable River Cat moment? “There are a lot of them. One of the greatest was their first championship in 2003. I just remember Justin Lehr about ready to throw that final pitch. I remember when Jerry Blevins got called up to the big leagues for the first time (2007). Coach Tony DeFrancesco made the announcement in front of everybody and Jerry just started crying. It was a very emotional moment. The 2007 playoffs against Salt Lake, games 4 and 5 were just electric at Raley Field.” What do you think of this year’s team? “It’s a pretty good team. They might be off to a slow start, but they’ve got some good returning guys, some good pitchers. I love the new coaching staff. I think they will do very well. If you look at the history of the A’s organization, it does a great job in filling the farm system with talented players. The last time the River Cats didn’t make the playoffs was in 2006, but I don’t think they will have to worry about that this year.” Is a broadcasting job with a major league team a dream of yours? “The major leagues is definitely a dream of mine, but those jobs are difficult to get and very challenging. I’d love to go to the big leagues, but if I never make it, this is the perfect place for me.” What do you do in the off-season? “I give speeches to Rotary and Kiwanis clubs and promote the team. I also have been given the opportunity to sell radio advertising. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m not a salesman by nature, but I’ve enjoyed the relationships with clients.” What are some of your hobbies? “I like to travel and that’s a great thing about this job is going to various cities. I like to play golf once in a while, play basketball and eat sushi. I have fun. I’m never bored.” What do you like about Folsom? “What’s not to like about it — it’s a great town. I had no idea how wonderful it was. I love to walk in old town. I love all the trails. My daughter loves the parks. The commute is not all that bad either. I don’t plan on moving from Folsom for a long time.” Sports Editor Matt Long can be reached at