Voice of the Goldeyes moving to job in Mets organization
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Growing up in Levittown, N.Y., there was only one thing Steve Schuster knew about Winnipeg: it was where the Jets and Teemu Selanne played.
Little did he know, he would eventually call that Canadian city home for nearly a decade as the radio voice of the Winnipeg Goldeyes. Just like seemingly every independent ballplayer who steps onto the diamond at Shaw Park, Schuster has an interesting story as to how he got there.
His journey starts at the University of Michigan where Schuster, who grew up a diehard New York Mets fan, was a freshman pursuing a double major in psychology and political science. Despite being one of the largest colleges in the Midwest, Michigan didn’t offer a broadcasting program, but they did, however, have a student radio station that aired the games from all the school’s sports teams.
“If you wanted to do the football or hockey games, you had to wait until you were a senior to get play-by-play reps. But at the time I was there, nobody really cared or wanted to broadcast the baseball games so that was my in and that was my favourite sport,” Schuster told the Free Press during a sit-down interview on Tuesday.
“So, I was really lucky in that regard that as a freshman I was able to do the sport that I wanted to do. Honestly, I think I still have the tapes from my first games and they’re awful and didn’t get much better after that. But it was good practice.”
By his senior year, Schuster not only got the hang of it, but fell in love with it, leading to him sending out tapes to nearly 200 minor league baseball teams. The American Association’s Lincoln Saltdogs was one of just two to respond, and they offered Schuster an internship, which he accepted. Before Schuster’s first summer with the Saltdogs ended, an expansion team, the now-defunct Wichita Wingnuts, hired the Michigan grad to be their play-by-play announcer. It’s a role Schuster would have for six years until an old friend from New York offered him a high-paying job in a different industry in the Chicago suburbs.
After only a few months, Schuster realized he made an error.
“The pay was really good, I was working for someone I had a lot of admiration and respect for, but I was miserable. It wasn’t what I wanted to do,” said Schuster, now 38.
“And actually, I got really lucky that my Wingnuts email was still active and every now and then I’d just check in to see what was going on. And this is January of 2014 and I’m dying to get out of this job and thinking ‘I should’ve stayed in baseball’ and I saw an email that said Paul Edmonds (who served as the voice of the Fish for 19 seasons) was moving on to TSN (1290) and I was like ‘Man, I’d be really stupid not to inquire about this.’”
Schuster got the job and was in the broadcast booth at Shaw Park for Opening Day. That booth became Schuster’s office for the next nine summers, and a place where he would enthusiastically describe plays, in great detail, made by names like Reggie Abercrombie, Josh Romanski, Victor Capellan, Kevin McGovern, Mitch Lambson, Wes Darvill, and Max Murphy, just to name a few. It’s also where Schuster would cement himself as one of the best as he was chosen by his peers last September as the American Association Broadcaster of the Year.
That booth and the CJNU 93.7 FM airwaves will be occupied by someone else next season, as it was announced on Monday Schuster has accepted a data analyst job in the Mets’ organization and will be based with their Double-A Eastern League affiliate, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. The new gig will allow Schuster — who has spent the past few years diving into the analytical side of the game by taking several courses online — to spend the off-season at home and be close to his dad (his mom passed away a few years ago), sister, and two nieces. An added bonus is he’ll also be nearby during the season as Binghamton is just over three hours away from his hometown.
Schuster is still as passionate as ever about Goldeyes baseball, but after years of being away from his loved ones, he was determined to find a way to spend more time with them.
“It’s not an easy decision. I could’ve seen myself here for another 10-plus years and would’ve been happy to continue to do that because I love all the people here. It was definitely a hard decision, but it’s just kind of the right fit at the right time,” he said.
“… And the fact that I was a Mets fan growing up, it’s another cherry on top of being able to go home and stay in baseball.”
Between the Wingnuts and Goldeyes, Schuster called a record 1,491 American Association games. Goldeyes general manager Andrew Collier said they’ve already received a ton of interest about the position, but whoever they tab as Schuster’s replacement will have big shoes to fill.
“He knew the American Association inside and out, better than anybody in the game,” Collier said. “He knew every player on every team, whether a guy was newly signed or played for a while, he did his research, did his homework, and came prepared every day to the ballpark. That’s what made his broadcasts so good.”
Schuster’s tenure in Winnipeg was highlighted by calling back-to-back championship runs in 2016 and 2017. His most memorable call was Game 4 of the 2017 final at home against Wichita when the Wingnuts ran onto the field to celebrate as they thought they had recorded the final out and had won the series before realizing the umpire had called a balk. The Goldeyes went on to win in the 17th inning, which resulted in Schuster staying on the air for more than six hours and forced a deciding Game 5 that the Fish won handily.
“I’m sure every team is going to say they have the best fans, but I think there’s something really unique about the fan base here in Winnipeg. It’s just their passion for the Goldeyes, their knowledge of Goldeyes history and their knowledge of the game you can feel it in the ballpark,” said Schuster.
“It’s been a thrill to experience that every night.”
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