Interview: Broadcaster Jack McMullen


By Cooper Woodward, Reporter

Jack McMullen is the current play-by-play broadcaster for the Fort Wayne Tin Caps (a Minor League affiliate of the San Diego Padres) and the voice of Ball State College basketball. He also works with the Just Baseball Fans company with Peter Appel and Aram Leighton (Co-Creators of JBB and Co-Hosts of JBB Podcast). Last Sunday (2/6/22) I sat down with him to ask him more about his life as a broadcaster.

Cooper Woodward: How did your passion for baseball start?

Jack McMullen: Same way it probably started with you, just playing the game. You got the wiffleball bat in the backyard when your 3-4 years old, that turns into T-Ball, which turns into Little League and stuff like that. That along with not being the best player, so you need to think at a different level than everyone else. That kind of created a healthy obsession with baseball. Then when my playing days were over, I still wanted to be around the sport in some capacity.

CW: How did You turn that passion into a career?

JM: The passion I had definitely grew in college. I attended Syracuse because I heard that was the right place to pursue sports broadcasting. I got some opportunities there and, in turn, that led to a summer of calling games in the Cape Cod collegiate summer league. That led to a year of calling Minor League baseball games, which led to another year of calling Minor League baseball. It all just kind of progressed once I fully committed to it. It’s a ton of extracurricular stuff. The classes can help, but if you want to get into this, you have to do stuff outside of the classroom— if that’s writing for a paper or going to a high school game and calling games on your phone and stuff like that.

CW: I know in the 2019 season you were the voice of the Auburn Doubleday’s, a former affiliate of the Washington Nationals, and now you are with the Fort Wayne Tin Caps as their play-by-play broadcaster. What are your long-term broadcasting goals? 

JM: I want to be in a Major League booth at some point. I don’t care if it’s TV or Radio, I would love to be the TV or radio voice of a Major League Baseball team. And if there are Network opportunities like ESPN or Fox, I will do that, but I would love to be the person the people of Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, or Baltimore turn to on any given night.

CW: Syracuse has a lot of alumni that are in the broadcasting scene — guys like Bob Costas and Sean McDonough. How did Syracuse prepare you to go into the broadcasting business? 

JM: It showed me the precedent. It showed me how people went about it. There are a billion different ways to get there, and the beauty of Syracuse is that they have more people that have gotten there than anyone else. So, Sean McDonough, his dad was a very famous sportswriter. McDonough ended up being the voice of the Red Sox before he was 25 and called the World Series before he was 30. And then you got other people who didn’t get their break until they were 40 years old. How did they go about that? Was it MiLB (Minor League Baseball) or did they start with talk radio? Example being John Sciambi. He began his career in talk radio then eventually became the voice of the Marlins. There are a billion different ways to get there, and the beauty of Syracuse is you get to meet all of those people, pick their brains, then choose the best course of action for yourself.

CW: I know you are originally from Chicago. Are you a Cubs or White Sox fan, and who is your favorite player?

JM: Originally I was a Cubs fan, but then I moved out to the suburbs and became a White Sox fan because I realized that was a much cheaper ticket, and it was also more exciting. Now I’ve stayed true to that, but I am a White Sox and Cubs truther. My favorite player is Mark Buehrle, man, I loved that guy. He was a guy who had the attitude of “throw the ball, get it back, and throw it again.” One game of note that sticks out was a game against the Blue Jays that lasted one hour and 54 minutes (one of the shortest games since 2012).

CW: What’s the most interesting thing you have seen in your time following baseball? 

JM: That’s a good question. The most interesting thing I’ve seen in recent memory was White Sox v Orioles at Camden Yards (Baltimore’s home ballpark) right after the Baltimore riots. And before the pandemic, that was one of the few games in recent memory with no fans in an empty stadium. It was a stupid cool thing to watch. You would watch a homerun be hit and then you would hear the clang of the ball hitting off the bleacher seats. Absolutely ridiculous. And they didn’t have the imported crowd noise like they had all of last year. Also, the individuals are crazy to cover, like what Shohei Ohtani did this year, both hitting and pitching, what Aaron Judge did his rookie year, seeing Javier Baez in full force, Tim Anderson with his walk-off bomb in the Field of Dreams game.

CW: Switching gears, you also broadcast games for the Ball State women’s basketball team, who are currently 14-7 overall, 7-3 in the Mid-American Conference (with five straight wins). The speed of basketball makes it different, but what else is different, and how do you prepare for basketball versus baseball?

JM: That’s a good question. I do all the women’s hoops, all the men’s hoops at home, and then sideline report for football. I am fully engraved in the MAC, which is pretty sweet, and the MAC is beautifully weird. Basketball is much higher-paced, and it is a little less reliant on storytelling. When you’re listening to baseball on the radio, I can tell you about the weird travel experience I had arriving at the ballpark, or I can tell you about the articles I read in the New York Times this morning. There’s a chance to just hang out with the listener. With basketball, it’s entirely different, where you’re going in at machine-gun pace all the time. When they get going, they’re getting their cardio in, so you gotta get your vocal cardio in.

CW: Jeff Bagwell played first base and spent his entire 15-year Major League Baseball playing career with the Houston Astros. He also graduated from my high school. Who are two-to-three people you look up to in baseball? 

JM: That’s a really good question. Currently, Joey Votto is one that comes to mind because he just goes out of his way to help people. I’m just genuinely a big fan of people who are generally good people, and Votto is never really mean to anybody. He goes out of his way to make a kid’s day and stuff like that. He’s just a very genuine person. Tim Anderson is another guy that sticks out. He does a lot of quality work, especially in the south side of Chicago. That’s a guy who kind of embodies what the hustle of Chicago is. He’s also kinda adopted this place. He’s from Tuscaloosa, Alabama — he has no reason to adopt Chicago like he did. He loves Chicago and Chicago loves him, and he’s nearly always there.

Jack will continue doing play-by-play for Ball State University in the fall and winter, play-by-play for the Fort Wayne Tin Caps in the spring and summer, and work on the Just Baseball website and podcast year around.