Saturday, January 05, 2008

Victor Rojas Interview

This week I interviewed Victor Rojas, radio broadcaster for the Rangers since 2004. I have met Victor quite a few times and he is always very nice. I would like to thank him for doing this interview and giving up some of his time to do it.

1. In college, did you like pitching or catching better and why?

I liked being a position player better because I got a chance to bat. At the junior college level, offense was the best part of my game...especially as a switch-hitter. When I moved on to Lewis-Clark, they had a senior starting behind the plate and there was a need for pitching...so I moved to pitching full time while serving as DH and PH.

2. What did you do when you worked at Upper Deck?

I was originally a Customer Service representative helping stores throughout the country with their orders. I eventually made the move to Holographic Products Coordinator (big title, I know) and there I put together the hologram inserts. As a matter of fact, the first edition holograms for Upper Deck Basketball and Hockey cards (the awards hologram cards) were put together by me.

3. How is broadcasting on MLB Radio different from broadcasting on regular radio?

No real difference other than MLB Radio is streamed via the internet while "regular" radio goes out over the air-waves. But as far as prep time and studying for a show or broadcast, it's exactly the same.

4. What’s the difference between broadcasting for the D’Backs and broadcasting for the Rangers?

One's in the National League and the other’s in the American League...just kidding. No real difference really...it's still baseball. The American League seems to take a little longer with all of the offense that is generated but that's pretty much it. My two partners are completely different in personalities...Gregg Schulte will always be the guy that showed me the ropes when I made the jump to the big leagues and Eric will be known as the guy who helped me hone my skills.

5. Was there anything difficult about being a talk-show host (The Baseball Breakfast on MLB Radio) and if so, what is it?

The most difficult thing about doing the show on MLB Radio was getting up as early as I did to research the previous night's games and then getting on the train to go to New York City. After that, it was the hustle to get back to Newark so that I could return to my Bears' duties for the rest of the day. I wouldn't trade that experience for anything...it was awesome and helped jump start my broadcasting career.

6. How did the Rio Grande Valley White Wings do in 1994 when you were pitching coach?

I think we were 5-6 games under .500 on the season. I was hired to be Alan Ashby's pitching coach for the Whitewings and with all of the injuries we incurred; I ended up playing more than anyone anticipated. It was a lot of fun playing down in Harlingen…the people down there were fantastic.

7. How did the Newark Bears do when you were the announcer and when you were the GM?

The Newark Bears hadn't made a post season before I got there...not that it had anything to do with my arrival, but we went to the finals in my first year (should've won, but didn't). After the season, I fired our manager and got rid of 22 of the 24 players (I kept Joe Mathis our CF and Pito Ramirez our catcher). I traded the "one dog" Lance Johnson to Nashua for Jimmy Hurst and all Jimmy did was win the triple-crown for our league as we won the Championship. Marvelous Marv Foley was our manager and we had a blast that year. Marv was then hired by the Colorado Rockies to be their Triple-A manager and I went on to the Diamondbacks. Not a bad stepping stone.

8. What has changed about the minor league systems from when you played in the Angels farm system and now?

I don't think much has changed...and that includes the pay. My first year, I got $800/month as salary and after earning an All-Star team berth, I negotiated an increase of $50/month for the next year...crazy. But overall it's pretty much the same. There are a lot more players now because of expansion, but that seems to be pretty much it. The escalating bonus money might have changed guys over the last 15 years, but that's tough for me to tell since I'm not really involved on the minor league side much.

9. How did you prepare yourself to be a broadcaster? What education did you have?

I went to broadcasting school in the late 80's to be a DJ...so I never really had the intention of becoming a play by play guy. That just kind of happened. I decided I wanted to give this gig a try and was fortunate enough to end up in Newark. From there, things just fell into place. I learned play by play as I did it during the season...I listened to a lot of the different broadcasts throughout the country in trying to pick up different little things so that I could improve. From that point on, I've just tried to tweak things by going back and re-listening to my parts of a game and dissecting it so that I could improve.

10. What are the three most fun things about your job?

Watching baseball. Talking baseball. My off-season.

11. What are the three toughest things about your job?

Travel. Being away from family. Chasing a player down for a pre-game interview (the worst).

12. What is the most fun season you’ve announced and why?

A tie...the 2003 season because it was my first in the big leagues. And the 2004 season because of the lowered expectations for the ballclub. It was a lot of fun watching that team run off 89 wins and stay in contention to the end.

13. What is the most fun game you’ve announced and why?

Before this year, I would've said a May game back in 2004 against the Tigers at the Ballpark. That was the game when the Tigers scored something like 8 runs in the top of the 5th to take a commanding lead only to have the Rangers drop a 10 spot in the bottom of the 5th to tie things up. An unbelievable game that the Rangers eventually won in extra innings. Now, it has to be the Orioles game this year. 30-3 is just stupid fun.

14. What is the best play you’ve announced and why?

Personally, Sammy's 600th home run. Perfect setting...vs. Cubs, at home and against the guy who was wearing his old number. Pretty cool.

15. Who have been the most fun players to interview and why?

The guys that talk a lot, those are my favorite. Nothing is worse than having to pull teeth to get guys to talk. But on the Rangers: CJ Wilson, Rod Barajas, David Dellucci, and Jeff Nelson are some of the guys that are/were very vocal and just fun to interview. Gerald Laird says what's on his mind and that's always a plus.

16. What is a typical day like in your job?

The typical day when we're at home would mean waking up around 5:30 or so to get my reading in. Once my kids are up (usually around 6-630), I get them ready and take them to school. When I get back home, I go back to my reading and will throughout the day go back to my computer a number of times to get updates on things going on around Major League Baseball. After lunch (and if nothing else is going on), I usually try to get some shut-eye (there's nothing like a good nap). I get to the yard around 4:00 for a 7:00 start and get the lineups, my pre game interview and chit chat out of the way before heading upstairs. When I get to the booth, I like to get my book done for the game. People pop in and out of the booth and we'll chit chat. I like to eat dinner an hour before game time and I'll usually hang out down there until 15 minutes before first pitch. Then it's back to the booth for the game. On the road, there's usually some golf sprinkled in during the morning hours.

17. What was your favorite team growing up and why?

Kansas City Royals...my dad played there and it's where I grew up.

I would like to thank Victor again for giving up so much of his time for this interview and for his great answers.

This year, I will be giving out the first annual Texas Rangers Trades Broadcaster of the Year Award. The poll (on the side of the blog) over the next 2-3 weeks will determine who the best broadcaster was for 2007. The winner will be given a trophy, plaque, or certificate. The candidates are Josh Lewin, Tom Grieve, Eric Nadel, Victor Rojas, Jose Guzman (Spanish broadcaster), and Eleno Ornelas (Spanish broadcaster).

Results of last week’s poll:
Who do you think had the best month of December?
Tigers – 39%
D’Backs – 30%
Rangers – 26%
Astros – 4%
Other – 0%

Come back next week for part 3 of the Tom Grieve Trade Analysis.

4 comments:

Ken Pittman said...

Outstanding interview, Grant. Your questions are better that some that seasoned reporters ask.

grantlovesbaseball said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks for the nice comment. Victor Rojas is very friendly. I'm going to the cowboys playoff game next week.

Grant

Lynn Leaming said...

Grant,
I enjoyed your interview. You ask really good questions. Wow! Getting to go to the Cowboy/Giant game! How fun will that be?? Have a great week!

grantlovesbaseball said...

Hi Ms. Lynn,

Thank you. It'll be a lot of fun. I got the tickets as a christmas present. Hope you have a great week, too.

Grant