Tracks To Success

Jason Benetti

June 29, 2020 Kraig Kann Season 1 Episode 14
Tracks To Success
Jason Benetti
Show Notes Transcript

Announcing a sportscaster who’s ready to call the game of his own life.

Host Kraig Kann spends time with the play-by-play man of the Chicago White Sox who capitalized on a childhood dream with passion and drive to achieve his goal and actually become the voice of his favorite hometown team.  

But for Jason Benetti, the path to a coveted MLB opportunity came with the challenge of  accepting and overcoming cerebral palsy.  He focused his game plan on becoming not only the best he could be, but also better than his competition.  As Jason shares, he refused to accept any idea that his disability could hold him back.  Through hard work at his craft and making a strong impression wherever he held a microphone has vaulted Benetti into an elite group. 

He shares his insecurities and the things that have given him the confidence to call big league games and also work for ESPN.

Find out how a grade school assignment shaped his life in this can’t miss edition of Tracks To Success. 

1 (4s):
Welcome to tracks to success brought to you by presentation partners. This is the podcast that brings you inspiring people and they're inspiring stories. How did they find their way to the top and how can their path help you do the same? Here's your host network, broadcaster, executive and entrepreneur. Craig can

0 (29s):
Right

2 (29s):
Now on this edition of tracks to success, you'll hear from one of sports up and coming broadcasters, a second city play by play voice with a first rate story of overcoming physical disability. Who's faulted to a national stage beyond just baseball. He was a young boy with a dream growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, but this wasn't just any boy. He was the boy born premature who spent time in intensive care, suffered a respiratory illness that led to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Nothing stopped him a college broadcast degree and then a law degree, but also a degree of uncertainty that it would all work out, but it has.

2 (1m 17s):
He's now the face and voice of the major league team. That was his dream and there's other network gigs too. And by all accounts, many more to come self-described as the kid who embraced the label of weird. And who's now labeled by many as a pioneer, his name is Jason Benetti, the man behind the mic for the Chicago white Sox, his inspiring story. And this addition of tracks to success starts now

0 (1m 49s):
<inaudible>

2 (1m 53s):
Jason. I'm going to start with this. When I started this podcast centering

3 (1m 58s):
Around inspiring people, sharing their inspiring stories, truth be told you were on my original list. So this means a lot. I truly appreciate the time. How are you doing? Oh, I'm great. I'm great. How are you, Greg? I'm doing fine. Thank you. And we, we could go so many different ways to start this and the impact of the Corona virus to major league baseball this year. I know it really put the skids on spring training, the start to the season, your heart, like everybody else's, must've just sank when they said pack it up. Everybody had home until who knows when. Yeah, so

4 (2m 32s):
It was really straight. It was a strange time for me overall, not even necessarily specific to baseball because I I'm on the road for about 160 days of the year typically. And so to have that all grind to a halt was, was shocking to the system. I had been doing a basketball game in Indianapolis and I drove from Indiana back to Chicago. And I basically just bunkered down in order a bunch of groceries and stayed in. But in terms of the baseball story and the angle of it all, I was at a basketball game that Monday, when everything shut down before, before it shut down and I got a text saying that the, you know, announcers and media, weren't going to be allowed in the clubhouse.

4 (3m 13s):
And boy, wouldn't it be at that point? Great for us to be arguing over how fair that is or all that's like, my first job was fine for safety purposes. We need to do whatever we can to get a season started. And then two days later everything's shut down. So it was amazing. The rapidity at which information moves.

3 (3m 33s):
Yeah. I'm curious, just from a baseball perspective, we're going to talk about other sports and, and your career in a second, but just from the baseball side, how excited as a guy like you get a couple of weeks, three weeks before spring training is supposed to start. I mean, is that like the greatest feeling in the world?

4 (3m 52s):
The greatest feeling is when you're on the plane back home or to wherever you're going from spring training to play that first game, because you usually have a day in between you kind of settle at home or the road city. We were in Kansas city back in 2019, and we had a dinner with the crew and you get ready and you're so excited for everything. You're going to do that season and watch baseball. And it's only rivaled by that moment when it's close enough to say pitchers and catchers report in blank days, that's the moment where you're like, Oh, this is coming and it's coming fast. And also pretty soon there won't be snow on the ground.

3 (4m 35s):
Yeah, no doubt about that. I know everybody gets excited for opening day truth. Be told I'm going a full disclosure at right now as a Chicago guy. I'm a, I'm a diehard white Sox fan. So I have that energy just like you do to a strong degree, let's go back and track your success story. If somebody came up to you, Jason, on the street, let's say outside the white Sox stadium, guaranteed rate field and said, Jason, how did you get here? What would your cliff notes version of that story be that you would share?

4 (5m 9s):
How did you get here? I probably at first say something like by car, it's parked over there. And then I would say I had a lot of really great people who taught me where I should aim in terms of being a great announcer. The first thing that strikes me is having a high school radio station at home with flaws more high school and getting to learn that I love to do this there. Then you go to Syracuse where a lot of broadcasters go and there are a lot of places where great broadcasters go. But I went to Syracuse. I became the sports director of the radio station there.

4 (5m 49s):
And over that time I learned a lot of what to do and what not to do from my peers and professors and all of that. The thing that has meant most to me though, beyond those things, which obviously they will be in my heart for the rest of my life are the people who taught me where to aim that aiming for the average is not even possible. That here's how you prep to be a great announcer. Here's how you use your voice to be a great announcer. Here's how you get ready for a big moment. If you're a great announcer, those people, those Sean McDonalds, the I and Eagles that Bob Costas is, but also Brian Anderson and Kevin Harlan and some of the really, truly great people, Wayne layer of you who people in Chicago know now that I sent all those people tapes when I was relatively young and they gave me good, honest feedback to point me to, Hey, you can do better in this scenario.

4 (6m 45s):
There are things you can do to strengthen your worst day. And I now think that one of the most insidious things that happens to people in a creative field is that they run into somebody early, who tells them here's where you aim. And they start shooting at like the 30th percentile accidentally. Not because that person had any nefarious aims. They just didn't know how to aim for the top. And the fact that I've had so many people in my life who are really truly top-notch thinkers and announcers influence what I do on a game by game basis, that has meant everything to me.

3 (7m 27s):
Yeah. That's a, that's a real interesting perspective. And I think if you want to get into the field that you're in or that I've been in, you better be able to take the critique cause you're never going to get better and you're never going to pass other people or climb to where you want. If you can't do that before I go way back to the beginning of your story, the, the born in 83 stuff, I want to, I just want to ask you something straight up because I've already summarized your life story before we even started talking. And I know there's so much to your career. That is amazing. Do you get tired of the questions that I might about be ready to ask you?

4 (8m 6s):
I think you're going to ask me about having cerebral palsy and overcoming it and being inspirational and things of that nature. And the answer is no, I don't get tired of it because honestly, in March of 2020, I had a revelation about my own life. Like the way you just described it, Craig of my successes and the things that I've done in broadcasting and collecting of, of information and knowledge and all of that, that I've done. I I've kind of separated my life into before and after, after being, after I figured out that I could do this for a career, but then when I was sort of wallowing like the first two weeks of the whole COVID-19 situation in March of 2020, I was sort of sitting at home and I was worried.

4 (8m 54s):
I was worried that I had 19 at the time, but, but I, and I don't want to dwell on this, but I bring it up because I had one of these moments where I was like, dude, you spent nine years off and on in hospitals. And I just did that. Didn't register before March of 2020 to me because I didn't really think about it. Not that I was repressing it, but I didn't really think about it. And so there was this moment where I was like, okay, say this goes on for a long time and you lose some portion of your career because of it. It's still not even close to what you dealt with as a kid, like you were in the summer in a hospital, rehabbing surgeries, you can do this.

4 (9m 35s):
Like you can handle this. And a lot of people can handle this. And so I had this moment where I was like, I need to look inside a little bit more because a lot of what I ignored or said, Hey, I'm over that still informed decisions and still can inform decisions that I make in the future when things are hard,

3 (9m 58s):
Amazing perspective.

4 (10m 2s):
Wow.

3 (10m 2s):
And, and, and it's so true what you said. And we often times lose perspective so many times along the way. So with that, and the confidence you just gave me to ask the questions I was going to ask anyway, born in 83, which is a really good year for the white socks, by the way, not, not the greatest year ever. We'll get to that. But Chicago suburbs, they won the division by 20 games. By the way, that year they lost to the Orioles. As I know, you know, three games to one Orioles, beat the Phillies to win the world series. Okay. You were obviously a kid who was really ready for the world. And I say that because you decided to come out 10 weeks early, you've kind of already told the beginning of that story.

3 (10m 43s):
So 10 months premature and then complications in the hospital, which you've already basically documented. Now you don't remember that, but I know parents and everybody else who lived it with you, do what were you told about the struggles? How tough was it?

4 (11m 1s):
Yeah, I mean, the thing is, it's not something we talked about a whole lot like that my parents were very much on the, okay, like go meet the world. There's, there's no reason to necessarily sit here and dwell on everything that's happened. Cause honestly it was harder on them than it was on me. I mean, to be a parent and to have your kid really premature and, and get sick when they're young and have all these surgeries to have them go into the hospital every night and see that, I mean, it's just crushing. And so it was much harder on them than it was on me. And, and I think what I know about it is simply what I've, you know, recalled from early on in elementary school, showing up in class, in August in a wheelchair or wearing those like Forrest Gump, like braces on my legs, which by the way, don't off that movie, it should be brought to the better business Bureau for false advertising.

4 (11m 59s):
No, I loved the movie, the, but, but the whole thing about it was I just have these little flecks of memory of things that were different about me when I got to school, but it wasn't, I don't have this overarching thought of, Oh, I'm in the hospital again. Like I, I can recall moments when I had a cast on and was in the hospital and was like watching television at three in the morning. I have very like vivid, small pieces of that memory, but it's not, it's not the overarching way I feel about myself.

3 (12m 30s):
So as the story is documented three months in the hospital, respiratory illness, no oxygen to the blood, diagnosed with CP as a toddler. And then all the struggles you talked about in the surgeries and so forth and surgeries to help you with the simple things that so many of us take for granted. And you've already shed light on that and perspective in that look, I've already been through Helen back, you know, anything that could happen now I can get through that sort of stuff. So if you remember those times at a young, at a young age, you know, before elementary school and so forth, doesn't that inspire you a little bit.

4 (13m 10s):
Yeah. I mean the, the one thing that I have to say about the word inspire is people use it so much about me and they do it for really good reason. And you have an, I have, and thousands of people have at this point in my life, the thing that I ask people is that if you are inspired by me, like that's why that revelation I had in March was important to me because it made me change the way I thought in that moment. If you say you're inspired by me, whoever's listening to this are inspired by anybody, whether it be RJ middy or Zach and or other people with CP, who've done things, ask yourself what inspires you to do?

4 (13m 55s):
Why am I inspired? And what am I going to change? Because if inspiration doesn't alter what you do in some way, for the positive of yourself or society, it's sort of hollow inspiration. So when you say that, or anybody says that anybody listening to this, not just Ukraine, but when you say that word, like, have it changed something that you do? And for me, what it does is say, like, if there's anything that's a takeaway from my career for other people, it's simply make the work good enough that people cannot use something else against you.

4 (14m 35s):
Because as somebody who grew up with all those things, like obviously people are going to say things about you and you're going to be reminded all the time that you walk with a limb for your eye drips or whatever it is. And the whole goal is to end up being with yourself. And what I did was use my vocation announcing to do that. And so I guess what I'm saying in a long way is make sure that the inspiration makes you do something. And if, and if I can help you do something that you would have quit, or you would have said, ah, you know what? I'll get to that later. My life has been, Hey, I don't really belong on television because I can't look directly at a camera because my eye drifts and I don't walk into a room and while people, so hopefully if there's inspiration in my story, it's simply that, Hey, like if somebody tells you, you can't do something until they write a law about it, you go do it.

4 (15m 36s):
So in the movie, little miss sunshine, Paul Danno, his character really wants to be, he wants to be a fighter pilot. He wants, he wants to be a pilot. He wants to aviate in whatever way it is. So Paul Danno wants to fly and he finds out at the end of the movie, he's red, green colorblind. And like, there's a law that says you cannot be a pilot. If you're a red, green colorblind, if they don't write a law about it, go do it is my message.

3 (16m 6s):
I want to go back because you've obviously reached it. Okay. You've you've, I would say overcome. And you've challenged yourself. And the way you, you mean you should have been a philosophy major. I mean, the way you just described everything you shared is great for, you know, baseball games that are 13 to one, by the way, that means you can fill and you can do it well. Now in elementary school, there was an assignment. I want you to take me back to this. And then I think a lot of people can relate to this. Apparently a teacher said, write down your dream. You wrote down what

4 (16m 42s):
I wrote down that I want to be the white Sox announcer, like Hawk, Harrelson. And I wrote a big Y E S cause, you know, he said, you can move on the board. Yes. At the end of it's all run calls. And it turns out I became the white Sox sort of replacing the hot carols. I get sad. I mean, it, I forgot that it happened. And then my mom unearthed it and was like, Oh, do you remember you did this? And I was like, no, not at all. But evidently I did. I mean, I grew up watching a lot of sports and the announcers are front and center. So I wanted to be Hawk and well, here I am

3 (17m 19s):
Amazing. And I, I actually can totally relate. I just had, I'm going to date myself 30th year reunion and went back. And I was the kid at eight years old in my house in Western Springs that wanted to be a sportscaster and did games in my room. And I know you can relate to that. And I wrote the same dream down, not to be the white Sox announcer, although I'd trade places with you. I think that is such a special thing to inspire. I'm gonna use inspire again, to inspire other people, to write it down, to say it, to give you something, to shoot for no, at a young age.

4 (17m 50s):
But that's why I love the word inspire when you use it like that, especially. I mean, and, and your understanding of that, because that's the way you communicate your message as well as you're trying to get people to do things that are beyond what they think and absolutely write it down, believe it, think it, and I know that not everybody gets to live their dreams, but if you don't try, you're certainly not going to make it.

3 (18m 16s):
Yeah. Did you have a support group of friends at a young age or were you the kid that really struggled to fit in? How did that all go for, you know, sports, right? I mean, you couldn't play.

4 (18m 26s):
Yeah. I didn't, I didn't play, I, I had a group of friends that I made basically junior and senior year of high school who were close friends. But then when I went to college, those friends became the really sturdy rock in my life. The people that I talk to every week and some every day. So that's where I made my collective group of friends, some of that around student media at Syracuse, and then some of that just around making friends through other people. So it was much more in college that I gathered that group of people who were foundational to me.

3 (19m 1s):
So at a young age, you broadcast games in your own house. True. Right? True,

4 (19m 7s):
True to the, to the annoyance of the friends that I did have.

3 (19m 11s):
And you probably didn't let them be the main announcer. They only got to be the color guy.

4 (19m 15s):
No, they got to be the person who said shut up. I'm trying to play the game.

3 (19m 22s):
Awesome. Okay. Here's what also is pretty cool about your story? You're a pretty savvy kid, as well as I understand it, you ran the NCAA basketball pool in junior high. We call it junior high in Chicago.

4 (19m 36s):
Yeah. Middle school. Yeah. You know, the, the two things about that one that is true. I used to come to school with a bunch of brackets and a folder and like, think I was being suave and that the teachers wouldn't notice, although like when 20 people are around your desk and you don't have 20 friends, something it's up. And then number two, I used to always get like a cold around Thursday at 1130 of the NCAA tournament's opening day. And then that cold would invariably last through Friday, but then Saturday and Sunday, I improved substantially and then came back to school on Monday. I just have to say it happened to coincide with the NCAA tournament debut that year.

4 (20m 19s):
Yeah. Yeah.

3 (20m 21s):
Coincidentally, I get that. By the way, I won five bucks off Michigan state against Indiana state in 79 and my junior high class. And come on, we were all that way. Okay. So you did games on the radio or you did some radio stuff in high school off to Syracuse. You go tell me why Syracuse, is it the obvious because you already rattled off a bunch of names.

4 (20m 43s):
Yeah. I I'll pick up the names when, after I dropped them, I apologize. The, I went to Syracuse to learn broadcast journalism and to study. And I actually, I never visited. I just went sight unseen. My parents packed up the car and we drove and I just moved in and did that. So yeah, I, that's why I went is to, to learn broadcasting and be around people who want to be great at it. And I'm, I'm really, really glad that I did it well, pretty smart place to go. Decent names there. And you graduate 2005, another really good year for the Chicago white Sox, by the way.

4 (21m 24s):
Very, very good year. I watched the, I watched the world series part of it in traverse city, Michigan with a friend of mine from college who went to go do local sports in traverse city. So like game two, I was sitting on his couch in traverse city, Michigan. Yeah. I'm going to tell you a story because this is a segue, but it ties in. So I'm a big Sox fan ed farmer, the late ed farmer radio announcer for the Sox forever played for the white socks, helped me get a couple of tickets to game two against the angels that drop third strike, AIG, present ski and all of that. Where you as glued to the hometown white socks at that time, like in other words, the dream hasn't hit yet.

4 (22m 4s):
Right. You're not the white Sox announcer, but were you still dreaming about it back then? Yeah. I mean the crazy thing about colleges, it can both inflate and then temporary your expectations. Like I got out of school and I just wanted to be an announcer for anybody because it's really hard to get jobs. Sure. So I did an independent baseball season and Crestwood, Illinois in the suburbs. I know, you know, and then I was sort of in between jobs at that point, I ended up working at DePaul doing women's basketball, but I was at my, I was in traverse city for a couple of the days in the world series. And then I was back home living with my parents. And I remember watching games three and four in the Astros series at home in nod my childhood bedroom because my parents had moved, but I watched part of it with my parents and part of it upstairs in my room.

4 (22m 53s):
And absolutely, I mean, they, it was, it was this captivating moment for a city, for a team that like in 93, when I first latched on to the socks, it was like, wow, this could be a dynastic sort of team. They lose to the blue Jays in the playoffs. Then the strike happens in 94 when the socks and Indians were basically ramming into one another on a weekly basis to see who was going to have the best record in the American league. And then there wasn't a whole lot more for the socks in terms of the playoffs as I was growing up except for one occasion. So it was like, wow, the socks have built this amazing thing.

4 (23m 33s):
And when I was at school and I was doing, you know, minor league baseball as an internship or whatever it might be, you don't watch as much baseball as you used to. So it was actually really cathartic thing to come home and watch the socks every day again, and feel like there was a sense of place. Yeah,

3 (23m 53s):
No question about that. There is one thing I do have a question about for sure. And I'm trying to figure out how this all fits in. So you graduate from Syracuse, you've clearly got the voice to do something special in this game. I mean, it's obvious to anybody listening, why the law degree from wake forest, why did you go to law school?

4 (24m 13s):
Well, I was thinking about doing movie previews. No, I, I decided to go to law school because I had done a couple seasons of minor league baseball and there's some repetition to that. And you know, you're not very highly paid in minor league baseball and you're making copies of stuff and you're, you know, doing sales every once in a while and whatever graphics and writing stories post-game and all this stuff. And there were just some moments where I was like, I feel like there might be more curiosity wise and I enjoy college so much. And I enjoyed taking classes so much for lack of a better way to say it, that I had taken the L set just because when I was searching for a job in 2005, like right around the world series happening, and actually I was at home, I was sending my stuff to people and I was trying to figure out what and where was next.

4 (25m 3s):
And I just studied for the L set because a friend of mine from college had done it too. And he's like, Oh, you like logic. Like maybe this might actually be statistically fun for you. So I got one of those El set books and I took the, I ended up taking a test. I think it was in October of that year. And I got a score that was competitive enough that I could say, Hey, if I can get a job somewhere doing games and then also take classes there and go to law school, I would do it. And I found wake forest while I was doing basketball at high point university in North Carolina and wake led me in. And as part of my application, I sent a CD of my work and basically said, I want to continue to do this, but I also would like the legal education and they were so, so cooperative about it.

4 (25m 49s):
And I did it just because I enjoyed the reading and I enjoyed learning about the world through the law.

3 (25m 56s):
And nobody's going to stump you on your contract negotiation.

4 (25m 59s):
Well, I got, I got like, I got like a low B in contracts, so they might actually,

3 (26m 4s):
God. When did you know, when did you really know you had it in you? Was it on those bus trips when you were going around to minor league parks? Or was there still a lot of self doubt then? When did you know?

4 (26m 18s):
I knew I loved it very early in high school. I knew I loved doing games when I started first doing games. When did, when do you know you're gonna make it? I think actually I decided early that making, it was just like being the voice of a team, whether it be a low level college basketball team, like I was always shooting to be after college because it was the most attainable, a division one basketball announcer somewhere because there are 330, however many there were at the time. So when I got the job at high point, it was like, okay, I've kind of made it. I am the voice of a men's basketball team at a university. Now football would be next.

4 (26m 58s):
And then I took the minor league baseball route as well. I love doing games. And then I was in AAA very early on as a lead guy in 2009 at age 25. And it was like, Oh, well, you know, I know, I know I study this. I know that I've learned from some really good people, but then you listen to tapes even from a year or two years before. And if you keep doing that, obviously you stink that it's like a year ago, you change things you do when you hear things that other people do and you make yourself better. So my definition was never really, I got to get to the big leagues. It was never, I got to be a lead network announcer.

4 (27m 39s):
It was, I liked doing games and I want to do it. And now suddenly we sit in a position where we're talking and you're saying you've made it. And that's kind of a revelation to me in the first place, because that was never really the aim.

3 (27m 53s):
Jason Netty is our guest on this edition of tracks to success, tracks to success is brought to you by presentation partners, visual storytellers, passionate about connecting presenters with their audience. All right, Jason, your internship at WFCR. I find that fascinating. Most people don't know what that is. That's the score sports radio in Chicago. So the tie in here is, is that you've already mentioned you were a little bit nervous of the video angle or the on-camera stuff. And radio is obviously a pretty big thing in the city of Chicago. You avoided TV for a long time. How'd you get over that?

4 (28m 32s):
How would I get over it? I, it was in AAA baseball. I w I became the voice of the Syracuse chiefs, their team name at the time though, the Mets now, and I was the radio voice, but there also was a 20 game television package with time Warner locally. And I had a couple of really good producers who walked me through, Hey, here's what on camera looks like I have, I have a couple of friends who tried to help me with my eyes and how they looked in the camera and how they looked on camera and things like that. So that's kind of where that started. But you mentioned interning at the score. Like I, I grew up listening to Boris and Bernstein in Chicago and Terry and Dan like Dan, Dan to me, Dan bird's scene in Chicago is one of the smartest people in the history of the world.

4 (29m 20s):
And I know he sometimes gets a bad rap because people think they're talking, he's talking down to them or whatever. Dan's one of the smartest people I've ever met. And every day I used to come in for that internship, two things happened. He was always jamming on the crossword puzzle on the computer, whichever crossword puzzle. He could get his hands on. I assume it was the New York times. And then number two, it was always, what can we do with this story today? What's interesting. What's the angle. How can we play it? How can we deal with it? And I was there watching that conversation happened with Terry and Dan and the producers. And, you know, every once in a while, I would just say like some really dumb idea. And they'd be like, that's interesting.

4 (30m 0s):
And then move on with whatever they're doing. But I saw like how to not settle for something basic from Dan and from Terry. And what's amazing is like now Dan and I are friends, I go on their show and he I've told him privately, but I, you know, I haven't really said it a whole lot publicly. He's one of my inspirations to just be smarter, do smarter, be more curious because I go in there and I'd be like, I am an idiot. I don't know anything. They know everything. And I know nothing

3 (30m 33s):
Uncover what? I don't know. Tell me something that's gonna make me go. Wow. Not just wait, what, you know, it's interesting because, and

4 (30m 43s):
Okay.

3 (30m 43s):
People that want to be on TV, don't understand the value in potentially doing an internship. I'm going to make this up with the Tribune or the sun times, or the score on radio. They think, Nope, TV. I got to do an internship there, but I think there's so much value in the other. If you were talking to students right now at Syracuse, what would you say about the value that came from that internship in radio?

4 (31m 5s):
I think it's, it's even more global than people realize it's go somewhere where you can actually learn something. Don't go somewhere where you have to feel like you're proving yourself on a daily basis to yourself, right? Like some people get very defensive about advice. They'll send you a tape and you'll point out things and they'll say, well, I actually think this way about it. And you're like, I don't even care if you take my advice, just do something different and try to push yourself to be better in some way. So when you get an internship, wherever that might be, make sure it's around people who you think are basically gods, like make sure it's people who you say, wow, I cannot believe they make that look so easy.

4 (31m 54s):
Mo my number one guideline would be go find an internship where you Revere the people because of their work and their output. Like for me, I mentioned some of those names. Like I like Brian Anderson has had wonderfully specific advice for me in my career. And I watched Brian when he first started getting network jobs after his time at the golf channel and still with the brewers and you watch Brian and you're like, man, he makes it look so simple and you get to talking to him and he's got all these thoughts and strategies and analyses. I want to be around people who are above where I am. I know it. And I can ask them everything that I want to ask them

3 (32m 34s):
From my time at the golf channel. Not only is he one of the most talented, he's one of the absolute gems of a person that you could ever meet. So if a kid gets a chance to work for BA or be around him, that's that's rockstar status right there.

4 (32m 50s):
One of the, I mean, he just to give people the specific, he knows everybody's name on every crew he's ever on camera people, video operators, technical directors, producer, director, associate producer. He knows everybody's name and he knows stuff about them. It's it's uncanny

3 (33m 11s):
2015. You find your way to a little chat with Len Casper. That's the voice of the Cubs that became the launching pad. If you will, for what ultimately becomes the fulfillment of this dream, take me there to what Casper did for you and how all of a sudden you get the call.

4 (33m 32s):
I was living in DC at the time and Arlington Virginia, and just flying out and doing a sort of games for ESPN. And I lend them. The Cubs were in town to play the nationals for a two game series. And I called Lynn and I said, do you want to get together? He had sent me some advice on tapes in the past. And he was like, sure, we're going to watch the Stanley cup finals with our TV crew. And it was like him and Jim Deshayes. And I think the producer, Mark Rady, maybe skip Ellison, the director as well, and a couple of family, friends of Len. And I just went, we hung out at a champs in crystal city. I think it was and watched the Hawks and the lightning. And we got to talking. And then Len mentioned to me a couple months later that he heard that Hawk was thinking about cutting back and that I should call the socks.

4 (34m 16s):
So I call the socks. I talked to Brooks Boyer with the socks, and I ended up flying to Chicago for Homewood Flossmore high school video group, you know, media group anniversary party that was held at a country club in, in the South suburbs. And so I go to that and I told the Sox, I'm gonna be in town if you want to meet me. And they said, well, yeah, come in on, on that Monday. So I come in Monday, it's like a three and a half hour interview that it ends up being. I ended up flying to meet Steve stone a couple months later in Arizona, my now broadcast partner. And then I flew back to Chicago later on in December of that year to meet with Jerry Reinsdorf and have that be sort of the final blessing.

4 (34m 59s):
And it came upon January of 2016, when the socks and Bob grim at the Sox finally called me and said, we want you to be the guy. And here's the offer. And I just, I couldn't, I couldn't believe it. Yeah. Jerry Reinsdorf. Right? I mean, we're always terrified. Really? Yeah. I mean, he, I grew up a Sox and bulls fan, right? Like the bulls won six championships while I was still in school. They were the reason in large part, I watched sports along with the socks. And so, you know, you meet this guy who is the architect and of all of these great moments in sports.

4 (35m 40s):
I was, I was nervous as all hell

3 (35m 45s):
Did you go back to right in the dream, down in elementary school? I mean, you walk out of there, they've given you this opportunity. Have no idea by the way, what you negotiated or if you just said, yeah, whatever, I'll take it. There was not a lot of leverage in my, in my, so did you go back to elementary school in your mind?

4 (36m 4s):
No, I was too worried that I blew it. When they, when somebody tells you like, okay, you're going to meet Jerry Reinsdorf. You assume that you're a finalist of some kind, right? So here I am, I meet with Jerry Reinsdorf and then like two and a half weeks later, I've still heard nothing. And I was like, Oh gosh, don't tell me, I've looked. And then I realize now having worked for the socks that their office is legitimately close for two weeks around the December holidays. And so I didn't know this, but they really just, weren't working on it at that point. And I'm sitting at home for two weeks thinking, what did I say to them? Did I answer a question wrong? Did I, should I have done this?

4 (36m 45s):
Or should I have done that? And then I get the call in early January. And I was like, wow, all of that stress. And they just literally had closed their offices. So I wasn't even thinking about the grand picture of it because I was so worried that it wasn't going to happen at that point.

3 (37m 0s):
Well, I mean, it all has worked out. It is amazing. And a fantastic story talking with Jason Benetti. All right. Some quick hits, quick, best thing about doing games in minor league baseball

4 (37m 14s):
Is every day you get a chance to get substantially better at the craft. And number two, the fact that you just have hilarious stories from bus rides,

3 (37m 23s):
Worst thing about doing games in the minor leagues, you have to do it every day and you have long bus rides. Number of hotdogs you eat in a given week at the ballpark.

4 (37m 37s):
Wow. That's a great question. I think it's probably around three or four.

3 (37m 44s):
Is the food at guaranteed rate among the top five in major league baseball?

4 (37m 51s):
It absolutely is. And that's not as an, an employee of the team. I is really, really good stuff. I totally agree with you. If not the white socks, which team in major league baseball, I, I, there can't be, well, I mean, the bond you have with your childhood team, I C I could not pick, it would have to be an expansion team.

3 (38m 12s):
Mm, interesting. If not a broadcaster, what other career?

4 (38m 20s):
I love musical theater. The way I walk, probably isn't great for a lot of roles. Like, I don't know that Danny Zuko walks like this, but I would, I would love to learn musical theater, but I'd probably be a teacher

3 (38m 32s):
Jason Brunetti's morning before nighttime broadcast,

4 (38m 40s):
Usually sleep in a little bit to about nine, nine 30, and then go right to the computer, start taking notes on the game for that night or things for later on in the series. And then go have lunch with Stony or lunch on my own at home, depending on where we are. And then off we go to the ballpark around one 30 or two.

3 (38m 60s):
How long does it take you to wind down after a nighttime game?

4 (39m 4s):
Oh, doctor. Sometimes it's like an hour and a half. I mean, I, I have to turn on something usually that I've seen before, like a TV series that I've seen before, just to shut her down. It can take awhile

3 (39m 16s):
Outside of work interests. What do you do when it's not your job?

4 (39m 23s):
Love the New York times crossword puzzle. I do that every day. I am a reader. I enjoy watching really good standup comedy, John Malaney being number one. So good. Stand up, reading crossword puzzles. And I like to, I like to eat good food

3 (39m 45s):
Who doesn't right. Jason, you've been different from day one. Has that been a blessing or a curse for you?

4 (39m 55s):
It can be both for sure. And it's, I like to say it's what you make of it, but you have to get some breaks too. So anytime I get frustrated about the way I walk or whatever it might be, I think, well, what can I do to make myself better? I have a couple of friends who I call and I vent a little bit and they basically like verbally slap me across the face and say, okay, go do better. And that's what I go and do. So it's both, but, but the blessing is 100% harder to find, especially for young people. And to know that you are not just going to blend in actually is something that has great value in this life. And I think it's why I gravitate to friends like bill Walton, because he lives that at every moment of his life just being different and being okay with different

3 (40m 44s):
In the time that you reflect and you're alone, be it on a flight or, or whatever it might be. Do you, or can you say that you truly embrace you at this point?

4 (40m 58s):
Yeah. I mean, especially, especially on the air, there are always things that you're like, ah, I can do that a little better. I can feel a little bit better about this. I mean, it's still get down every performer. I think it's down and has doubts at points, but when I'm on the air, I think I take more risks than the average announcer. And I think I'm being very much true to the core of me in the way that I present a baseball game and work with partners and all of that. So yeah, I, I think I'm as close as I have ever been and I will get even closer to that.

3 (41m 31s):
Just COVID.

1 (41m 36s):
In addition to hosting this podcast, Craig leads the cannon advisory group focused on elevating communication for companies and individuals, company consulting and powering team and individual workshops, mind altering webinars. And Greg's inspiring keynotes for your conference or company meeting. They're all on the menu of services. Can advisory helps companies clarify their message, helps professionals build and showcase their brand and helps everyone present their best selves. So if you're the leader of a team or company looking to give your employees a game changing one day experience or an individual who wants to become a speaker and presenter that gets other people talking visit Ken advisory.com.

1 (42m 25s):
And when you do connect, make sure to mention the tracks to success podcast, to receive a special discount on any of the can advisory services. That's can advisory.com. Now back to the interview, winding down our time together with Jason

3 (42m 43s):
Nettie, this podcast Chasen's called tracks to success. What's one piece of advice. One that you would give to anybody trying to break into the business of covering sports that says, you know what sports is for me? Something maybe they don't know or that they need to know whether they're going to like it or not.

4 (43m 5s):
Any sport you're covering. This is a, this is a very specific piece of advice, but it's, it's become really important to me, along with all of the things I said earlier about getting advice from people you think are great. And that is a number one, but I've said that already. Number two, if you are covering a sport, any sport read the rule book cover to cover. I know it's a slog. I know I come from a legal background. So I might like, appreciate it a little bit more. You have to know the rules because you are going to pluck something out of there that you did not know anybody who reads the rule book finds something that they didn't remember or didn't know. And, and I carry one with me at all times, whether it's on an iPad or a hard copy, especially if you don't know this story sport, the first place you should start is to read the rule.

4 (43m 51s):
Book

3 (43m 53s):
Golf keeps changing the rule book. That's not that much fun. What do you tell people? Jason, I'm guessing you you've got to do some public speaking, right? I do. Sometimes. Yeah. When I'm asked and I can only imagine your command of the room, what do you tell people that might be in the audience fighting a disability who have a dream like you, but self doubt continues to get in the way. I mean, you just told me that you vent and you got some people that you call when you vent. I'm guessing that that some of that is still with you, but what would you tell people that have that self doubt based on a disability? Yeah. Whatever you do. If

4 (44m 32s):
Your work is not at the highest level, you leave something to chance. And in this life with so many people striving to do the thing that you want to do, no matter what that is, no matter what industry it is, a lot of people want to do whatever you want to do. Anything you leave to chance pretexts can slip in. Right? So if, if somebody sees my work and they really like it, but they don't really, really like it, honestly, truthfully, that's on me because if there's something I can do to impact the audience more, if there's something I can do differently to change my delivery of the game, whether it's my vocabulary or my tone or whatever it is, I can blame other people and say, well, I'm better than that person they hired or whatever it is.

4 (45m 18s):
That's not productive. Go do something to be transformative in your life and in your craft. And I think good things will follow from that.

3 (45m 29s):
You know, you talked about being your own self, doing it differently, being unique, all that sort of stuff. I mean, Hawk, Harrelson, come on. I mean, he was a, one of a kind, he was one of your idols. And now Jason, it's you the voice, the face, the team you loved as a kid growing up, you put the dream down on a piece of paper. If you were going to go through that exercise again, right. I don't know who would be the person, maybe it's me now. It says, Hey Jason, write it down. What's your now dream. What's the thing you want to still achieve. You're a young guy. Is there something there? What do you write down now

4 (46m 5s):
To do as much as possible to make as many people feel hope as can and, and to try to pay off that hope in some way for the world. Because the hardest times in my life have been, when I have felt like there might be a ceiling on me and there's not a, at least to this point that I've found. So trying to convey that hope. However, it might be to people who don't have it to, to make the world a little more curious and a little happier. That's what I would write down vocationally. I've already done everything that I'd want. And then some,

3 (46m 42s):
So do you sit there in the booth with the camera on you or the microphone in front of you saying this isn't for me just a game or I'm, I'm calling third inning, fifth inning, seventh inning stretch, fill in time, whatever. I've got a bit of a higher calling because of what I've been through. I mean, do you look at it as that opportunity to serve and not just share?

4 (47m 5s):
I do off the air in game. I'm so competitive with myself and my tape from yesterday and other people that it's like, okay, let me lock in. Or, Hey, let me have fun with my broadcast partner when I'm not doing games. The thing I miss most is getting to build something with my partner. And so I'm more thinking about where we're going next and what we can do to make the audience have a better time, but off the air. Absolutely. I think about, Hey, what can I do to make somebody's day a little more hopeful?

3 (47m 37s):
Then my last question is this, the white Sox won the world series as you and I both well know in 2005. And you probably don't need a pinch yourself moment to know that if it comes again soon, it's going to be you. Your amazing track to success gives you that opportunity to be that voice on the call. How special is that for Jason Benetti?

4 (48m 4s):
I mean, it would be so great to be involved with a team that gets a chance to go do that. I don't, even as I think about it, I don't know what my role would be because network TV takes over. So I don't know what I would be doing, but I know I would be there. I'd be in the clubhouse and I'd have some thing to do. And whatever that is, you get to know these players and coaches and front office people so well that it would be the pinnacle of that, that hope we were talking about. But the happiness that people get from the winning of, of a major league baseball title to be around that and be part of it would make, make my heart smile.

3 (48m 47s):
It would make a lot of people's hearts smile. We started by talking about disability, as far as I'm concerned, it's all ability. You've made this a heck of a podcast. I truly appreciate your time. And to go back to the word inspiration, you got me fired up. So thank you so much, Greg. It was a pleasure. You asked great questions and I I'd love to do it again sometime. Thanks a lot

2 (49m 14s):
In our conversation. Jason talked about the childhood dream and the pursuit of a goal that came with physical obstacles and mental challenges, which leads me to my one last thing. If you want to be an influencer, the first goal is to sharpen your skillset and find a way to be better than the majority of your competition. More important perhaps is to find a way to do it differently. In Jason's case, he was different, but he never allowed himself to fall victim to how others viewed him. We have to stay true to our own goals and our own dreams. We have to work on our game plan to reach those goals, and we need to be confident in ourselves to get there.

2 (49m 55s):
Some careers bring more competition than others and require more self confidence and more perseverance. It's a choice to jump in in the first place. It's a tougher challenge to jump all the way to the top. So lay out your game plan, identify the challenges you'll face and plot your course to clear the hurdles that will definitely come your way, do that. And your tracks to success become a whole lot easier. If you have a guest, you think belongs on tracks to success. I want to hear from you [email protected]

1 (50m 30s):
And share this story. I can't wait to hear from you until next time. I'm Craig Cannes. Thanks for listening. You've been listening to tracks to success, brought to you by presentation partners, visual storytellers, passionate about connecting presenters with their audience. Don't forget to subscribe to the show for more great interviews and thoughts on reaching your highest personal and professional summit. You can follow Craig on Twitter and Instagram using the handle at Craig can and for exclusive tracks to success, content and news about our upcoming guests, you can find tracks to success on Twitter. It's at tracks to success.