Toms River is known for producing many notable names in baseball, and one day, that may extend beyond players to the broadcasting booth.
On Tuesday night’s telecast of the New York Mets game on sports network SNY, a township boy got the chance to accomplish a feat he said he’d prefer even compared to taking the field – calling an inning on a broadcast of his favorite team. The network gave only the boy’s first name, Christopher, and announced he was from Toms River. Christopher was surprised by field reporter Steve Gelbs two weeks ago, when he was announced as the winner of the network’s annual “Kid-Caster” contest live at a game, and asked live on the air if he wanted to return to Citi Field the night of Aug. 8.
“Looks like we’re booked!” the precocious youth replied, having beat out 180 other applicants, ages 8 through 12, who sent in videos of themselves trying their hand at play-by-play and commentary.
“I saw your entry, and it was one of the most energetic entries I’ve ever seen,” Gelbs said.
Our SNY Kidcaster Christopher is ready to go!
— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) August 9, 2023
Christopher joined the Mets’ celebrated broadcasting team of play-by-play legend and Mets Hall of Fame member Gary Cohen, as well as commentators Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez – both stars of the World Series-winning 1986 Mets team – to call the bottom of the fourth inning as the Mets’ lineup faced Chicago Cubs pitcher Jameson Taillon.
Unlike past “Kid Casters,” Christopher did not bring any notes into the booth, choosing to deliver a truly off-the-cuff performance that left the Mets’ award-winning broadcast team as stunned as they were happy. Christopher donned a navy blue polo shirt, just like his three temporary colleagues, and fit in with the team well beyond the clothing.
“Vogelach, with nobody on, and the pitch … he takes a ball low,” the Toms River youngster confidently announced after settling into Darling’s usual seat. “But there have been some questionable calls from the umpires today.”
Amidst some laughter, Hernandez agreed: “He seems like a pitcher’s umpire.”
As Mets outfielder Abraham Almonte faced Taillon in a 2-0 count with two outs, Darling mentioned how important pitch counts have been in recent seasons.
“Especially when you’re playing the Mets – you never know when they’ll start hitting,” Christopher chimed in.
“You fit in this booth fine,” said Darling, cracking up at the smooth and humorous delivery.
“This is the impact we have on people, Ronnie,” said Cohen, known for his independent takes on the team’s performance despite being a lifelong fan himself.
— SNY Mets (@SNY_Mets) August 9, 2023
Every year, Cohen usually ends the inning by asking the young talent if they’d rather keep aiming for the booth, or if they’d rather be on the field. Christopher, who said his favorite position to play is shortstop, was perhaps the first to choose a career above the field.
“You have a great future as a broadcaster,” Cohen prefaced the question, “but if you had a choice, broadcaster or shortstop?”
“Broadcaster,” he replied, to the delight of Cohen, who grew up attending Mets games and listening to Bob Murphy calling games on the radio, imagining himself one day doing the same.
"We've never had anyone less nervous than this young man right here." – Ron
— SNY (@SNYtv) August 9, 2023
“We’ve never had anyone less nervous than this young man right here, no notes!” said Darling.
As for the Mets, the game unfortunately slipped out of the team’s hands after relief pitcher Drew Smith gave up a home run to Cubs hitter Mike Tauchman in the eighth inning, providing Chicago with the run they needed to secure a 3-2 win.
Being a natural – now with some experience to back it up – it is well within the realm of possibility that Christopher’s voice may be heard on a professional broadcast some day. Johnny Gadamowitz, a Long Island native who joined the booth as a Kid-Caster in 2013, is now the play-by-play voice of the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets’ Single-A farm team in Coney Island.