Every goal, touchdown and timeout announcement is vocalized by an announcer invisible to the crowd at Mercer sporting events.
The voice of Mercer Athletics changes from sport to sport, and whether it’s Tamblyn Smith at Betts Stadium or Jimmy McInnis at Five Star Stadium, there is always someone to announce what is happening on the field to the stands.
Smith, a high school teacher in Macon, wears a few hats for Mercer Athletics. He announces men’s and women’s soccer games as well as volleyball. At football games, however, he is the spotter for the press box, meaning that he watches the game to tell the announcer details.
“I tell the announcer, Jimmy McInnis, who the ball carrier was and who the tackler was and what down it is and yards to go,” Smith said.
He has been Mercer’s premier spotter since the football team was reinstated in 2013, working home games for the Bears.
For soccer and volleyball, he has been the announcer for Mercer for four years. So far, his favorite memory is when the men’s soccer team won the 2021 SoCon Championship from a Trevor Martineau goal in the 88th minute.
“I got into announcing because I was needed at my former school to announce graduations, proms, homecoming activities," Smith said. "It then grew to announcing soccer, then football, then baseball, and then other sports as needed,” Smith said.
As a child listening to the radio broadcast for the Atlanta Hawks and Braves, Smith said that he and his friend loved to listen to Skip Caray do the play-by-play for the teams. Caray’s style of announcing the games was something that attracted Smith and he particularly enjoyed the late announcer’s wit in the booth.
Now, Smith says he enjoys announcing too much to quit.
Similarly, McInnis has had his share of moments that made him proud to be a public address announcer (PA) for Mercer. His favorite memory from working for Mercer so far has been the week Mercer’s baseball team beat both Georgia Tech and Florida State University in the same week.
“(They were) very close games,” McInnis said. “It’s just too bad we couldn’t win when we played them at their places.”
At the time, FSU was ranked 10th in the nation while Georgia Tech was ranked 13th, with the Bears eking out a 6-5 win against the Seminoles in the 11th inning.
McInnis has held this job for three years and has worked football, baseball and basketball for the Bears. In addition to Mercer, McInnis is also the PA for the local minor league baseball team, the Macon Bacon. There, McInnis has held the job since the team was created in 2018.
The homecoming football game on Nov. 12 was a hectic day that required many moving parts that needed to be coordinated, from the stadium to McInnis. Everything he announces to fans is scheduled down to the second, including the introductions of the starting lineups and advertisements of Mercer’s sponsors.
Every advertisement on the board is choreographed alongside McInnis’ text, which means then that everything is under a tight schedule. As soon as one message is not relayed up to the PA booth, things can easily get off track.
Once the game starts, however, there comes a sort of calm to the booth that didn’t exist before. There is no running monologue from McInnis, the job then is to simply watch the plays happen and report them back to the crowd.
“Once the game starts, it’s all done,” McInnis said. “Pre-game is crazy. In-game is much more easy because all the craziness has already happened.”
Smooth sailing never made a skilled sailor, which has made Mcinnis and Smith plenty practiced in their crucial jobs for the Bears.
Next time you're at a game, pay special attention to what you hear over the loudspeaker and remember what goes on behind the scenes. You might just walk away with a newfound appreciation for those booming voices.