Monday, March 17, 2003

New park's voice tuned to tradition

By Cliff Radel
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Joe Zerhusen, 47, of Batavia OH, will be the new public address announcer for The Cincinnati Reds in their new ballpark this year.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
Now batting right-handed and making public address announcements for the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park, Joe Zerhusen. Zerhusen!

Zerhusen will be the voice of the new ballpark. Every time Zerhusen introduces a player or announces a change in the lineup, he will act as a link to the Reds' days at Crosley Field.

"I can't wait to go to the ballpark this season and make public address announcements for 83 games," he said Saturday. "I'll think about old Crosley every game."

Zerhusen speaks in a deep, resonant voice. His diction is crisp. Perfect attributes for his new job. He sees this post as a dream come true.

"I can remember going to Crosley Field as a kid," said Zerhusen, a Covington native who now lives in Union Township, Clermont County.

"I was probably 6 years old the first time I went there. It was another world with that green, green grass, and that old ballpark. The players would be announced over the public address system by this big voice that seemed to come right out of the sky."

That voice belonged to Paul Sommerkamp. The Reds' PA announcer for 34 seasons, Sommerkamp retired after the 1985 season.

Sommerkamp's announcing trademark consisted of always repeating the player's last name, very carefully. He did that so fans keeping score would have time to write down the name.

"I want to maintain that tradition," Zerhusen said.

Auditions for the public address announcer's job were conducted a week agoat the Reds' new home. Zerhusen was one of 50 applicants and four finalists.

Zerhusen also works as an account executive for AM radio stations WKRC and WSAI.


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