The men who handle the announcing duties at the Deshler ball park in the summer are all local pastors.
"Baseball was always my favorite sport. I played it as a kid and all through high school," St. Peter Lutheran Church pastor Brian Francik said. He's been announcing games for 10 years now. The idea to use pastors for the announcing duties in Deshler began with recreation board member Al Dlouhy. A crow's nest was built thanks to funds raised through the sponsorship of banners at the park. With the crow's nest, came the need for announcers. "I thought we needed to get someone who likes sports, and likes kids, and is comfortable talking in public," Dlouhy said. "One of the pastors at Peace at the time was helping coach." And so, the idea of having pastors announce games in Deshler was born.
"We'll announce the players like a legion game, we'll do the national anthem," Dlouhy said. And it's not just baseball players who get this special treatment. Softball players also experience the fun. "My older daughter played softball," Hebron Bible Church pastor Jeff Friesen said. "We never had announcers at the games. You just showed up and played the game. I think it adds an element of fun, a third party that says 'hey let's liven this up'." Friesen has some unique credentials for his role as an announcer. "My undergraduate degree is in broadcasting from the University of Nebraska in 1990, and I went on to seminary from there," Friesen said.
All of the pastors work well together. One announces for the home team, another for the visiting team. Their payment is free popcorn, a cap, and the joy of connecting with the community. You could say the idea of having pastors announce the games in Deshler has certainly "caught on". As you might imagine, these games bring back memories not only for the fans, but the announcers themselves.
"It takes me back, one of the first songs we play is "put me in coach," Abiding Word Lutheran Church pastor Jon Langness said. "That was the song I grew up with running on the baseball field hearing." Langness says the nostalgia is all part of the fun at the park. And the public appreciates the pastors' efforts. "People from other teams will come up to the crow's nest and say we really appreciate them doing that, and making it special for the kids," Dlouhy said. Of course, the fans are listening closely. "They let the pastors know if they pronounce the names wrong," Dlouhy said.
So far, no one has asked the pastors to say a prayer to help one team over another. "No, we don't play favorites," Francik laughed.
With the tradition of announcers at ball games, there is good reason to spend an evening at the ballpark in Deshler where local clergy members are helping to make memories.