PADRES' PLAY-BY-PLAY VOICE WROTE THE BOOK ON TEAM NAMES
Figuring out the "Padres" in Tucson Padres is easy. The city's temporary transplant is the AAA farm club of the Major League Baseball team of the same name in San Diego.
But what in the world is a Chucker, the nickname of the minor league team in Idaho Falls, Idaho? And how did the Kannapolis Intimidators get their name? Or the Toledo Mud Hens? Well, it just so happens that Tim Hagerty, the play-by-play voice of the Padres, is the answer man.
He wrote the book. Really.
"There are so many minor league teams with such unique names. So I looked for a book on it so I could read it, and nothing like it existed," Hagerty said. "So I bought every research book I could find, dug up the most unique names in minor league history and from there tried to figure out how to get it from my laptop to the bookstore. After about 30 rejection letters I was able to get a publishing deal, and it came out in May of 2012. It's in stores now (and available at timhagerty.com). It might be the best thing I ever do."
He began his baseball career nearly 10 years ago with the Chuckers (it's a pheasantlike bird), and then landed a gig in Mobile, Ala. He parlayed that job into a position with the Portland (Ore.) Beavers before the team was disenfranchised in favor of a Major League Soccer team, then landed in Tucson in the midst of the Padres' AAA team move. The Padres originally appeared destined for Escondido, Calif., but that fell through, which led to a three-year stopover in the Old Pueblo, which wraps this season.
The Boston native was bitten by the broadcast bug at a young age, when in one of baseball's hallowed venues, Fenway Park, his father introduced him to one of the broadcast legends of the game, Bob Costas. To which 10-year-old Tim responded, "Who is Bob Costas?"
Hagerty sent Costas a letter last March reminiscing about the importance of that meeting.
Then, "We were in Fresno in mid-April, and I missed a phone call from a 314 area code, which is St. Louis. I didn't think anything of it, but then checked my voice mail, and it says, 'Hi Tim, this is Bob Costas," Hagerty recalled. "Of all the calls to miss. So I called him back. I was very nervous, didn't want to occupy too much of his time. He picks up and says hello, and then proceeds to ask me how my season is going. He's asking all these questions about Tucson. He was very encouraging. He was great. He's renowned for doing that. He's very personal."
Whether Hagerty makes the bigs remains to be seen, but he wouldn't trade his experiences for anything.
"I really enjoy this," Hagerty said. "It's not a case of me being desperate to escape the minor leagues. I'm excited about the next game. If it's not the majors, the Pacific Coast League is the best job in the world for me. ... If I'm ever fortunate enough to broadcast in the majors, that and the dozens of other minor league stories are as valuable as any World Series game I could call."
Padres games are broadcast live on KCUB 1290 AM and tucsonpadres.com.