10th of Jun | Story

Lucky call


OKLAHOMA CITY | The clock ticks past 10 p.m. and the TV is on in Alex Freedman’s radio booth. His radio equipment sits nearby on the counter as he types a game recap of the Oklahoma City RedHawk’s win earlier that night over the New Orleans Zephyrs. There are no signs he is close to finished for the night, but he wants to turn out the lights by 11 so he can pack a suitcase and sleep a few hours before he returns to the stadium at 4 a.m. to catch the team bus for the airport.

The days are long, and Freedman wishes they were even longer. He is an example of just how zany and complicated this game can be. Just like the players he talks about on the air every night, he understands the hustle the game demands and how luck sometimes trumps talent.

Six years ago, as a recent college graduate, Freedman was a broadcast and media relations intern for the High Desert Mavericks in the High-A California League. The next three years, he headed the department.

Then the team was sold.

"Am I lucky? Of course. But at the same time, I’ve felt like I worked really hard to put myself in the position I’m in. I know it is a bit cliché to say it, but luck is where hard work and opportunity meet." - Alex Freedman

The new owner was known for cutting radio and putting resources elsewhere. Around Thanksgiving, Freedman called the general manager to ask the status of his position. “He said, ‘Oh yeah, they’re getting rid of you,’” Freedman says.

At the time when seasonal staffers, like some radio broadcasters, were reporting to stadiums, Freedman was in St. Louis, living with his parents. Months removed from night after night on radio, he was splitting his time between a public relations firm owned by his mom’s friend and a sports memorabilia company he stumbled on thanks to a job opening on Craigslist. In his words, he was in purgatory.

“I knew nothing bad in my life was happening, but nothing good was happening,” he says. “I kept saying, ‘Something has got to change.’”

He sent dozens of resumes to baseball teams and colleges with open media relations and broadcast positions. “I felt like I kind of owed it to myself to try to keep looking,” Freedman says. “It’s one of the few things in life I felt like I was good at.”

Freedman was off the air for nearly 17 months when he received a vague email that said a Double-A team was looking for a second broadcaster. That didn’t work out, but he was referred to J.P. Shadrick, then the director of media relations and broadcasting for the RedHawks. Freedman and Shadrick talked and, this time, everything worked. Freedman packed his bags and moved to Oklahoma City to be Shadrick’s assistant.

Freedman has called enough games in his life to know that the score can change at any time. And it did.

The RedHawks were on the road in Nashville and Freedman was deep inside Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark writing game notes when general manager Michael Byrnes asked if they could talk. “I was a little underdressed that day, I hadn’t shaved,” Freedman says. “I was a little nervous.”

Byrnes told him Shadrick had taken a communications position with the Jacksonville Jaguars and now, 15 games into the season, he was the head of the department, at least on an interim basis. The transition was all of an eight-game home stand. In two months, Freedman had gone from out of the business and living with his parents to the radio broadcaster and head of media relations for a Triple-A team, a professional aspiration for dozens of young broadcasters with sights on the Majors.

Now, Freedman is more than halfway through the season, running a department often staffed by two or three people along with interns up in Triple-A. Freedman is doing it all with only one intern. He calls the games, home and away, writes game notes and recaps, handles media requests.

His goal has always been to be in a market large enough where he could talk about sports year round. Now he is. Still, he is conscious of that one word — interim — in front of his title. He received the call up. In order to stay, he has to perform, no matter the size of his staff.

“Am I lucky?” he asks rhetorically. “Of course. But at the same time, I’ve felt like I worked really hard to put myself in the position I’m in. I know it is a bit cliché to say it, but luck is where hard work and opportunity meet.”

Carolyn@AMinorLeagueSeason.com ♦ @CarolynLaWell ♦ @AMinorLgSeason 

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