Sharing their passion

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Jim Flanagan and Jason “Chopper” Gerbes observe the action at Rotary Field Monday as they did live play-by-play of a game between Mexico and Japan at the 2018 WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship.

They are long-time players, coaches and administrators for men’s softball.

With that background, those involved in Ballpark Broadcasting’s live coverage of the 2018 WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship have been able to show their excitement for the sport to those that are unable to make it to the Max Power Ball Parks in Prince Albert.

“All of us have a love for the game after being a part of it for years,” announcer Jason “Chopper” Gerbes of New Zealand said.

“It means something for all of us on the crew and hopefully our passion comes through to the audience.”

The Ballpark Broadcasting announce team, which was also a part of the last two Junior Worlds in Whitehorse, Yukon and Midland, Mich., will be calling all 54 games of the tournament over YouTube.

“We have five Canadians (Lance Winn, Steve Sabourin, Joe Todd, Kris Abbott and Paul McCart), Jason from New Zealand and myself from the States, so it’s a pretty diverse team,” Jim Flanagan said.

“For many of us, we’re away from our day jobs to come up here to Prince Albert, but it’s something that we all love doing.”

Flanagan helped to found Ballpark Broadcasting in 2003 and has seen first hand the benefits of having online streaming coverage for international tournaments.

“Back home there’s a lot of fans who wanted to see the games on ESPN, but that’s easier said than done,” Flanagan said. “When we first started, we were calling the games through a phone line for live audio and now we have video coverage over YouTube thanks to help from the WBSC.

“The feedback through having the games online has been great, especially with social media. We’ve been able to connect with fans from Australia, New Zealand and all over Asia through the in-game chat, Facebook and Twitter, which would be unheard of years ago.”

As the tournament nears the playoff round, the level of play that’s been on display in Prince Albert is something that’s impressed Gerbes through the round-robin action.

“We knew that the powerhouse teams would be ready to go, but it’s those nations just are below them that are taking the next step up,” Gerbes said.

“You look at a team like India who have been excellent all week, or a team like the Czech Republic who have been dominant in Europe and are now holding their own against the top sides. Seeing those nations rise is going to make the quality of these tournaments even better over the next few years.”