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The man behind the mic

Jay Rokeach recently concluded his 41st year as the public address announcer for Hurricanes baseball


The table stood only a few feet behind home plate, an unusual place for a piece of furniture. Back in 1969 and for a good part of the early ’70s, that was exactly where Jay Rokeach sat, working his vociferous magic.

“No press box, just a table behind the backstop with a turntable and seven or eight records,” Rokeach recalls. “We used to play Three Blind Mice when the umpires came out to home plate. They had more of a sense of humor back then.”

Jay Rokeach has served as the public address announcer for more than a thousand UM home baseball games.

Jay Rokeach has served as the public address announcer for more than a thousand UM home baseball games.

Occasionally, a strong gust of wind would blow one of his records to shortstop, and someone would have to go out to retrieve it. “It was a little embarrassing,” he says.

Today, Rokeach no longer spins the tunes at the ballpark; that job’s been taken over by sports marketing. But his baritone voice, as strong as it was four decades ago, still echoes throughout the stadium, exciting the home crowds and motivating the players as they step up to the plate.

Brooklyn born and an admirer of legendary New York Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard, Rokeach on Sunday completed his 41st year as the public address announcer for Miami Hurricanes baseball.

He took over the job as a UM freshman in 1969 after stopping by the stadium one day to ask then-head coach Ron Fraser if there was anything he could do to help out. “Ron didn’t have a lot of help,” Rokeach recalls. “Baseball was not that popular back then. By the end of the day I was already washing team uniforms. And as it turns out, I became the baseball team manager and also the announcer.”


He’s been the man behind the mic for more than a thousand UM home games and for all four of the program’s national championship seasons, working not only regular-season contests but also regional and super regional playoffs at UM’s venerable ballpark.

He also serves as the official scorer for home games, recording the outcome of each batter’s appearance at the plate and making judgment calls such as whether a play is a hit or an error.

Rokeach could assemble his own hall of fame, filling it with Hurricane baseball greats whose names he’s called out over a vociferous career. Former UM players like Charles Johnson, a Gold Glove-winning catcher who helped the Florida Marlins win a World Series title in 1997; Pat Burrell, the Most Valuable Player of the 1996 College World Series and currently a designated hitter for the Tampa Bay Rays; and Ryan Braun, an All-Star left-fielder with the Milwaukee Brewers who was the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 2007.

Newspapers, magazines, and local TV stations have asked Rokeach to put together his all-time great Hurricane baseball team. But he’s always balked at the invitation. “It’s just too difficult to name just one player at each position out of so many from the past 40-plus years,” he says.


Rokeach’s job is not simply a matter of reeling off names and making stadium announcements. To the players and coaches, he is baseball’s equivalent of the 12th man in football, boosting the emotional tone of his voice to motivate the team in critical game situations.

“I’m introducing [players] four and five times a night, 35 home games a year,” Rokeach says. “When we get into a rally situation and the team needs a key hit, I’ll emphasize the name of a player a little bit more and try to get him excited and the crowd into it. I think it’s played a part in the winning tradition of Hurricanes baseball over the years.”

Head baseball coach Jim Morris says Rokeach’s voice gives his team a home-field advantage. “His voice has so much electricity and power in it,” he says. “He’s our tenth man on the field. If I walk into a game and he’s not announcing, I’m…disappointed because he adds something to the sport and knows how to charge up the crowd.”

Rokeach isn’t able to work every home game. Last June, he served as the emcee at a Baltimore, Maryland charity event, missing the first two games of UM’s best-of-three Super Regional playoff series against the Arizona Wildcats. He promised Morris that he’d be back in the booth, behind the mic, for game three, a matchup that would decide a berth in the College World Series.

But the timing was going to be close. Rokeach’s return flight to Miami wasn’t scheduled to arrive until one hour before the start of the game. So he asked an old friend a favor, getting a ride to the game in a cruiser from Coral Gables police officer Dan Smith, who was a pitcher and the MVP of the 1982 College World Series.

“There was Danny, waiting for me at Miami International Airport,” Rokeach remembers. “I got the ride of my life—in the backseat of a patrol car. It was the coolest thing, coming back from the airport with the lights on and the sirens blaring. Dan had gotten the OK from his supervisors, of course. It made me feel like a big-time celebrity.”

Rokeach arrived well before game time, and Miami won 4-2.


He was the announcer for the Florida Marlins during the franchise’s first World Series championship season. Fans can also hear his voice over the loudspeaker at Dolphin Stadium, where he serves as the public address announcer for the UM football team, and at the BankUnited Center, where his vocal talents charge up the crowds as much as slam dunks, three-point field goals, and blocked shots.

But it’s baseball he likes most.

“When there’s a home game, I get up and look forward to being at the ballpark. It’s our Wrigley Field,” he says of Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field, where for the first time “we’ve got a real press box in a beautiful stadium,” he notes.

After four decades, Rokeach has no foreseeable plans to relinquish the mic.

“There are so many people who say so many nice things that make you want to continue,” he says. “I assume that as long as I still have good health and my voice holds up and I don’t do anything to terribly upset somebody in the athletic department, I’d like to continue until somebody says, ‘It’s time to go.’ “

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