CINCINNATI – What started out as a kidding text message turned into a dream-come-true for La Salle High School broadcaster Barrett Cohen.
The San Diego Padres had put out a now hiring advertisement for a vacant public address announcer position.
“Someone sent me a tweet one night at a basketball game and said have you seen this? You should give it a try,” Cohen said on a layover at JFK Airport in New York. “I said sure, I put my resume together.”
Then Cohen, the WLSN General Manager and Sports Information Coordinator at La Salle, went home and spoke with his wife. The half-joking text exchange became a little more serious when the man who has broadcast in some form or fashion since seventh grade started thinking about it.
“I said, ‘You know, it’s always been a dream of mine to work for Major League Baseball,'” he said. “Next thing you know, I’m booking a flight for San Diego.”
After traveling 2,200 miles to the West Coast, Cohen found himself standing front in center at Petco Park Saturday, Jan. 25. He was given about 30 seconds to make his audition pitch to the Padres’ shareholders, and a bank of televisions on hand.
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“The panel of judges were in luxury boxes. One by one, in numeric order, they’d call you up and you’d come to the mic,” Cohen said. “You are there, in front of a major league ball park. It’s a little intimidating.”
Cohen was number 78 out of what he estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 applicants at the open audition, something MLB usually doesn’t do for public announcer positions.
About 10 people from Saturday’s event will be called back for interviews. There will be a social media component to the selection before three lucky contestants get to spend spring training in Peoria, Ariz. for their final interviews and interaction with the team before the hire.
“It’s overwhelming odds,” Cohen acknowledged, though he did tell WCPO sister station ABC 10 News in San Diego, “Hopefully I'll get that interview and will be able to show them the other things I can do.”
A lot of people through social media are pulling for Cohen, even a few pro-athletes.
“Sure hope the @Padres and @WaynePartello make a good decision and hire @Barrett_Cohen,” Bengals JK Schaffer tweeted.
Cohen found the outpouring of Cincinnati support and pride humbling.
And if the man from La Salle doesn’t get the job?
He said he was just glad for the experience.
“It’s something I don’t want to look back on and say I would never try,” he said.