By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
If people don’t know Trey Wilson by now, they will certainly know his voice if they follow the Bluefield Blue Jays during this Appalachian League season.
Wilson, a former student at and broadcaster for Bluefield College, is back at Bowen Field as the public address announcer for most of the Blue Jays’ home games, and the new radio voice for the team at home and away.
The season starts Thursday with a 7 p.m. game in Bluefield against the Greeneville Astros. All 34 road games this year will be carried on the radio on 100.9 FM, plus six home games. They will also be carried on the website bluefieldjays.com.
A native of Portsmouth, Va., Wilson enrolled in BC in marketing.
“I was out of school for a little while, and when I came back, I decided I wanted to change to the communications-journalism field. That was really where my passion was, more so than advertising.”
“Another thing about Bluefield: In the time I was out of school, I actually moved here to Bluefield, got a couple of jobs, and worked to save up enough money to get back into school. And I really adopted this town.
“Being a non-student, living in the culture of Bluefield, it really did become my second home, a very special place to me.”
“The history of the area is really the biggest thing. I actually made a documentary for an Appalachian Studies class that I took at Bluefield, and really learned a lot about where this city has been over the last century and a half.”
“Being a history nerd, like I am, growing up in Virginia is the best place to be a history fan. You have so much, with Colonial Williamsburg up to Richmond ... and the D.C. area, but I never knew of anything out here.
“In the Virginia (history) classes we take as kids, they never talk about this part of Virginia — and of course West Virginia was a part of Virginia at one point.”
“And I liked the atmosphere.”
“To tie that in with baseball, the historic roots of baseball in this city are so great. ... now coming up to about 90 years. This ballpark turns 75 (years old) next year. It opened up in 1939. ... I like to study baseball history as well, naturally with my other interests.”
He said professional baseball “holds its own special place in the city.”
He covered the Blue Jays for the past two years for a Fox Sports-affiliated website called FutureJays.com.
“I wrote about the development of Toronto prospects at all levels,” he said. “Of course, that 2011 team was a blast, a lot of fun — a lot of big prospects from that team, guys that you’re going to see at the Major League level very soon. ... That was a fun team to watch.”
“Unfortunately, some of those guys aren’t with Toronto anymore, guys like Noah Syndergaard, who’s with the Mets now. You may see him in the big leagues before the end of the year ... .”
His presence around the Bluefield team led to being offered a job. In keeping with the multi-tasking at the local ballpark, his job as director of media relations also includes being the sole radio voice for the team and manning the public address microphone when he’s not on the air.
Bluefield general manager Jeff Gray said, “It’s a pleasure to bring Trey aboard for the 2013 season. We look forward to him bringing his skills and knowledge of baseball to the Bluefield Blue Jays organization.”
With a background in print media and graphics, Wilson has also been helping with the game program, media guides and team notes, “and being the liaison between the local media and the organization,” he said, “plus, actually studying for the live broadcast every day and every night.
“There’s a lot that you have to be fluent on to keep up with the flow, and the team.”
He learned a lot working with the athletic teams at Bluefield College, a job he hopes he will continue doing in the next academic year.
He said, “I started out writing press releases and doing some photos for the website, and some different aspects of sports information.
“Then our former SID (sports information director), Chase Neidig, asked me if I wanted to try broadcasting some games. We hadn’t had any broadcasts (in recent years).
“In my head, I was thinking, this is always something that I’ve wanted to do, but never really thought I’d get the chance. So I’ll give it a shot. We started doing volleyball, basketball and baseball for the college — and eventually football, when that launched.”
“It turned out to be something ... that I really enjoyed, something that was a lot of fun.”
He has found that there’s an art to delivering a ballgame over the radio.
“The good broadcasters, they always say, can make it possible to ‘watch’ a game on the radio,” he said.
“The pace of baseball is so much different from any other sport. It really gives you time to be detailed about everything that you’re seeing, and make all of the senses of the listener come alive — hopefully.
“One of the beautiful things about baseball is its pace, and its attention to detail. Everything that is done on the field goes down (in statistics) and is saved for history, for all time, in a statistic.
“And the process of how that statistic comes to be is, of course, what we do, and describing every detail that I can about how that happened, without boring the listener.”
“It’s a challenge, and it’s something I’m still learning.”
The distribution of the broadcast is a step up, he said.
Wilson noted, “This is the first time, at least in recent memory ... that the games will be on FM. Of course, they were on WHIS the last two years. I think this is an exciting opportunity, an opportunity to reach a broader audience for Blue Jays baseball.”
“I’ll be doing the public address announcing for most of the home games, aside from the six (home) games that we carry on the radio.”
“As the public address announcer, I don’t want to be a focal point in the game. I just want to be something that the person in the crowd at the game hears, but maybe it doesn’t necessarily click in the front of their minds.
“At least, they know who’s batting, and know what’s going on with the game, kind of subtly, in the background — until we get to the reads for our wonderful sponsors. Those, I want them to hear.”
“And with the promotional games that will be going on, on the field. ... There will be a lot of things that fans are very accustomed to seeing at Bowen Field, like the dizzy bat race. We might be including a few new things.”
“We want the fans to experience the ballgame, and to enjoy that, but also, to be able to become a part of the game itself by participating in these different events between innings.”
He expects to be ready for the Appy League road trips this summer.
“I traveled with the team as the in-house broadcaster for Bluefield College,” he said. “Of course, this is going to be my professional debut ... but really, it’s the same thing.”
“During long bus rides, I’ll possibly be listening to baseball games on my phone, through the MLB app. If I’m not, I’ll be studying notes. Probably a combination of the two, really.”
“Honestly, the Appalachian League trips are much closer than many of those Mid-South (Conference) trips that we have to do for Bluefield College. A two-hour bus ride is nothing compared to a 20-hour bus ride.”
Asked about working with Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg, Wilson said, “This will be my first time working kind of ‘on the same side’ as Dennis. I’ve always been with outside media. So, it’ll be, hopefully, a little bit easier.”
“He’s definitely a character,” Wilson said. “Honestly, that just makes me a little bit more excited about spending this season working with the Blue Jays.”
Wilson is hedging his bets about his future in communications, but he hopes to stay connected with the sport he’s enjoyed covering.
He said, “Honestly, my heart is very much still with the print industry. That’s where my real connection is. But, doing this broadcasting job, along with the public relations aspect ... , that’s not too far behind my main interests.
“My goal is, if I can stay close to the game of baseball, then I’m going to have a very happy and content life. That’s really what the ultimate goal is.”
“You have the players at this level, they’re just trying to find their way to stay in the game and move up. That’s really the same place I’m at, in whichever media it might happen to fall in.”
“This is something that I never imagined that I’d actually be doing. So if I have the chance to do it this year, it’s not something I’m taking lightly. It’s an opportunity that a lot of people in the (broadcast) industry fight for, for a long time. So I want to take full advantage of every game that I get to do.”
He said, “During the summers that I have spent in Bluefield, my favorite place to be has always been Bowen Field. I can’t wait for the season to get started.”
— Contact Tom Bone at
Blue Jays on the air...
The six Bluefield Blue Jays home games that will air on the radio this season:
July 5, Elizabethton
July 9, Johnson City
July 19, Burlington
July 29, Danville
Aug. 19, Pulaski
Aug. 22, Kingsport
All 34 road games will be broadcast.