Gania, a WGH graduate, returns to the big leagues for radio | News, Sports, Jobs
The Mahoning Valley Scrappers boast that since joining Niles in 1999, they have produced over 100 players who have reached Major League level.
The franchise can now also claim one of its own play-by-play radio broadcasters like someone who starred in the big show.
Greg Gania – a Warren native and 2001 graduate of Warren G. Harding High School – worked as the Scrappers’ play-by-play radio broadcaster from 2001 to 2004. Gania began his stint as the voice of the Scrappers when he was a junior at Bowling Green.
Gania has since served as the play-by-play radio broadcaster for the Erie SeaWolves, the Detroit Tigers’ Class AA affiliate. He is also the team’s deputy general manager.
On July 21, Gania was called up to the major leagues when he called a doubleheader between the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s at RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland. It was the second time Gania had called a game on the Tigers radio network. He made his Major League debut on September 8, 2018 when he stepped in for a night at Comerica Park in Detroit.
“It’s awesome, it’s a dream come true for any minor league broadcaster,” Gania said. “It’s really no different from players trying through thick and thin to make their way to the big leagues. It’s the same with us, except that there are far fewer slots to fill.
“To have this opportunity to get a foot in the door, and then have the Tigers appreciate my work enough to give me a second round, it’s quite an honor.”
Gania made his Big League radio debut just days after the end of the SeaWolves’ 2018 season. He was ready to take a well-deserved break after a 140-game schedule when he said his phone had started “exploding with texts from our front office.” The message was to contact the Tigers broadcast director as soon as possible.
“Tigers radio guy Dan Dickerson had to go to the TV booth for a Saturday game and they asked me if I could call the game on the radio.” Gania said. “At that point I knew what it felt like for these players when they get called into the manager’s office at 10 or 11 at night after a game and are told they are moving to Triple- A or in the major leagues.”
With virtually no time to prep for the game — or get nervous — Gania drove 270 miles to Detroit on a Friday, checked into a hotel, “stayed up until about three in the morning taking notes,” then about 12 hours later they settled behind the microphone.
“I’ve had so many players over the years tell me about their experience playing that first game at the majors,” Gania said. “They’re nervous, there’s all kinds of butterflies before the game, but once they actually get into the game, things calm down and it’s just baseball.”
“It was like that for me. I was really stressed going to the stadium, but once the game started it felt natural. I felt like I belonged there.”
The Tigers organization were sufficiently impressed with Gania’s work that he was asked to call a spring training match in 2019 and several spring training matches in 2020. Gania was on call that year to work a regular season game, but those plans were put on hold due to COVID. The league lockout last spring kept him out of spring games.
Last week’s Tigers-A doubleheader was played on MLB All-Star Break week. It was the only game on the Tigers’ schedule for a five-day span, and prior commitments prevented Dickerson from making the trip to the West Coast. The Tigers once again reached out to Gania. This time, Gania traveled to Detroit and then made the trip to California with the team. The game coincided with the SeaWolves’ four-day All-Star break.
“Everything went perfectly, the timing couldn’t have been better and it wasn’t a last second notice,” Gania said. “It was quite surreal, everything was first class. The Tigers couldn’t have been more friendly and accommodating.
“The really interesting thing about it is that there are about thirteen players on the Tigers roster that I know from their time with the SeaWolves. They were so welcoming and they were really happy that I got this. opportunity.
Funnily enough, this time around, Gania was the veteran in the booth for the two-person broadcast. He was joined for the doubleheader by former MLB pitcher Doug Fister, who provided color commentary. Fister was making his television debut.
“It was kind of awkward for me in that Doug, a guy who’s played in front of 50,000 fans and played in the World Series, and he was kind of leaning on me for advice,” Gania said. “He was fantastic. Everything fell into place right away. »
Gania noted that the biggest difference between calling a minor league and a major league game is the time taken to advance. As a minor league broadcaster, he “Wears many hats and spends most of the day doing everything but radio prep.” Major league announcers have plenty of time each day to prepare for the broadcast.
“The game is a bit faster, the room is bigger, it’s a bigger stage, but it still calls for a baseball game, which is what I like.” Gania said.
Gania says he will “I will forever be incredibly grateful for the opportunity given to me by the Scrappers.” He still has fond memories of his time with the organization – even before he entered the radio booth. Gania noted that her very first job was working in concessions with the Scrappers when she was 16 years old.
“I worked there for three summers and then told (former Scrappers general manager) Andy Milovich that I liked the organization, that I wanted to come back for another summer but that I needed of a type of internship that worked with my communications major” Gania said. “Public relations, media relations, everything would have worked. That’s what I was hoping for.
“Then one day the phone rang in my dorm and it was Andy. He says, ‘How would you like to be our radio guy?’ Then I worked under (General Manager of Scrappers) Dave Smith for two years. I can only imagine how bad I started at 20, but these guys stuck by me. I owe them a lot. »
Smith, who now works for Kent State University, remembers Gania as being “an extremely energetic and hard-working child.” Smith noted that Gania was always passionate about her work.
“If you ask me to name the broadcasters I worked with during my time with the Scrappers, Greg is the first name that comes to mind,” said Smith. “He was always optimistic and he loved what he did.
“Even before he became our radio, I remember Greg was a really positive person who loved working for the Scrappers. I am not at all surprised by its success. He deserved it.
Gania’s most memorable moment with MV revolves around the 2004 season in which the Scrappers, led by Mike Sarbaugh, won a New York-Penn League title.
“This team just caught fire in August, and I remember the fans were so passionate about baseball that summer,” Gania said. “It’s nice that Mike and I are still friends to this day.”
When Gania was hired by the SeaWolves at 23, he was the youngest broadcaster at the AA level. Now 39, Gania says he is “grateful and delighted” with the path baseball has taken it, but still hoping for more.
“Just like players, once you get that call you don’t want to let go, you never know when or if you’ll get another chance,” Gania said. “I’m grateful for the opportunities the Tigers have given me. These opportunities have shown me both how close I am to achieving my ultimate goal and how difficult it is to achieve that goal at this level and in this sport.
“For now, I’m going to keep doing what I love to do and see where it leads.”