Chris Harris calls Biloxi Shuckers as he sees It
Oh, the facts and trivia Chris Harris tossed out with every pitch as he announced his 1,001st game Wednesday on the Biloxi Shuckers Radio Network.
"The top two teams in the Southern League are duking it out here," he told fans. The Shuckers won 4-3 Tuesday night to take a half-game lead on the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, and the teams were back Wednesday morning playing, Harris said, "before 4,000 school kids from more than 30 schools."
MGM Park was filled to capacity. Kids' cheers could be heard through an open window as he gave a play-by-play account from the press box directly behind home plate.
During breaks between innings, Harris returns to his everyday voice.
As a kid, he turned down the TV when he watched baseball games on so he could announce over them. Now he alters his diction on air to speak more clearly and protect the voice that has to carry him through 140 games.
He played baseball in high school and college, but when he realized he wouldn't make it to the bigs, "I figured out a way to stay in the game."
He was hired in 2015 as the voice of the Shuckers but wears lots of other hats, handling public relations, media relations, the team website and writing a preview and recap of every game. The time on air, "that's my easiest three hours of the day."
"The thing I'm most proud of is I never missed a game," he said. He started in Jackson, Tenn., in 2009 and didn't keep count until someone in the Shuckers office asked him for a tally.
"You do 140 games every year, you don't even think about it," he said.
He is an encyclopedia of Shuckers knowledge and does all his own research, keeping track of batting averages, the weather, and trivia even the most ardent Shuckers fan wouldn't know.
The 10:40 a.m. game start Wednesday was the earliest ever for the Shuckers.
"Every team in the league is doing a school day today," he said. "This is a Minor League Baseball tradition."
About 90 Gautier Elementary second-graders were in the stands. Few of them have seen the Shuckers play, said their teacher, Kelsey Hardy. "Most of them have never been to a baseball game in general," she said.
The field trip teaches students respect, game fundamentals and teamwork, she said during her first game of the day. "My husband and I will be back tonight."
Tim Bennett, Shuckers co-owner, said it's good to see MGM Park hosting school kids in the morning and college at night.
More group promotions are on the way, he said, to let Boys & Girls Clubs, churches, communities and other groups see a game.
On Thursday, the first 1,000 people in the gate will get a Shuckers cap courtesy of Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency. It's also the first Double Play Thursday, with $2 hot dogs and soft drinks and $2 off select draft beer and reserved tickets.
Those who can't make it to the game can be there as Harris calls his 1,002nd game on 1240 AM, 100.9 FM and other radio stations.