Better Know A Broadcaster: Justin Rocke
With baseball paused for the foreseeable future, Baseball America has decided to introduce you to some of the men and women who work as broadcasters for each club.
What Is Your Name?
Which Team Do You Work For?
Daytona Tortugas (high Class A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds)
Which Other Baseball Teams Have You Broadcasted For?
I was blessed to work as an intern in college broadcasting for the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2012 and 2013. Professionally, I started as an intern with the Brevard County Manatees during the 2014 campaign and then served as the No. 2 to a great mentor in Mick Gillispie of the Tennessee Smokies in 2015 and 2016. Since then, I have been the lead broadcaster for the Appy League's Johnson City Cardinals (2017) and Greeneville Reds (2018) before landing with the 'Tugas prior to 2019 season.
What Other Sports Have You Broadcasted?
I've been blessed to call several sports outside of baseball while working at Army West Point during the winter months. While I serve as the voice of the Black Knights women's basketball program, I have also had the pleasure to fill-in on men's basketball broadcasts, as well as doing some volleyball, soccer, softball, and even rugby! I was also privileged to call some Penn State football games from MetLife Stadium and Yankee Stadium while in college with PSU's CommRadio.
Who Is Your Favorite MLB Broadcaster Of All Time?
There is only one Vin Scully. His innate storytelling ability is always something I wanted to try to incorporate in my broadcasts. While we all remember Jack Buck's legendary "I can't believe what I just saw!" call of Kirk Gibson's legendary homer in 1988, Vin's poignant phrase "In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened!" has been a constant inspiration to further my descriptive skills on-air.
Where Is Your Favorite Road City?
Florida State League: Port Charlotte, Fla. (Charlotte Stone Crabs)
Southern League: Biloxi, Miss. (Biloxi Shuckers)
Appalachian League: Pulaski, Va. (Pulaski Yankees)
What Is Your Career Highlight?
Well, it wasn't calling baseball, but it was broadcast at a baseball stadium. My final student broadcast at Penn State was the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. It was their first bowl game after the ban had been lifted and while calling the second half, Penn State came from behind and won in overtime. That, added with growing up a Yankee fan on the other side of the Hudson River, made it a night to remember.
What Unseen Parts Of The Job Do You Feel People Should Know About?
How much work broadcasters, media relations personnel, and their interns put in when the microphone is turned off. From typing up press releases, coordinating interviews with local and national media, producing comprehensive game notes, recaps, and beyond for fans, media, and players' families.
While we are front-and-center for roughly three hours every night during the game, so much tireless work happens in the office, press box, busses on road trips, etc. to make sure our fanbase and those that cover them are adequately informed.
What's Your Best Story From The Road?
Well, I've got two great ones. One at home, one on the road.
In my first year with the Smokies in 2015, I was able to join Mick [Gillispie] on a trip to Mobile, Ala. as Tennessee started the second half against the BayBears. One afternoon, shortly after we arrived at the ballpark, a colossal thunderstorm rolled in at Hank Aaron Stadium. A bolt of lightning struck right near the team clubhouse and while I was still in the press box, Melanie Newman (now with the Baltimore Orioles) was dispatched to save me and bring me to a safer haven in the BayBears' front office.
At home? Earlier that same season CBS Sports Network was set to broadcast a contest between the Smokies and the Mississippi Braves. As CBS Sports commandeered our booth for the night, Mick and I set up our broadcast on the recently finished Calhoun's at the Yard pavilion in left field. Sure enough, the heavens opened up just before the game would become official and an amazing display of comedy would result between the team's two bullpens who refused to shelter from the storm.