By MICHAEL KELLY
Recorder Sports Staff
When local baseball fans head this season to Yankee Stadium -- where play starts today, at 1:05 p.m., with the Yankees playing host to the Red Sox -- they can expect to see a friendly face during the pregame on the scoreboard.
Or, at the very least, hear a familiar voice.
After graduating this past May from Fordham University, 23-year-old Kyle Kesses -- who served as the 2011 Amsterdam Mohawks' online radio announcer -- has landed the gig doing the in-house preview before each of the Yankees' 81 games in the Bronx this season. Roughly 20-to-30 minutes before each game, Kesses' face will be on the scoreboard and his voice will ring out in the stadium to help create excitement for the day's action.
"I'm going to narrate a highlight package of the previous games, do a game a preview and a pitching preview," Kesses explains.
This past summer, Kesses worked in media relations and as the director of broadcasting for a minor league team in Texas. Between that experience and his time in Amsterdam, Kesses says he is ready for the bright lights of his new job. He's already had a test run, as he did the game preview for the Pinstripe Bowl in December. That game served as his live audition, one he did well enough in to snag the job.
"I'm pretty excited," he says. "I feel confident that I can do the job. I did it with the Pinstripe Bowl, I did it at spring training ... so, I'm excited and confident."
One of Kesses' biggest fans is Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin. The two lived together during Kesses' time in the Rug City and still keep in touch with monthly phone calls. Griffin gushes when asked about the job Kesses did when with the Mohawks.
"I really respected the job he did," says Griffin. "He did a tremendous job for us."
The big thing that caught the coach's attention, Griffin says, was that Kesses pulled no punches in the booth.
"I don't think he was a homer, per se," says Griffin. "He was not just a 'Mohawks guy.' He really told the story -- good, bad or indifferent -- and I think that's good. I think if you can do that, you really show professionalism."
One such story Griffin recalls involves Kesses' explanation for why two-year Mohawks catcher Luke Maile had not beaten out a ground ball that an infielder had misplayed. In short, Kesses made it known that Maile was not the most fleet-footed player.
"Luke got mad about that," says Griffin, laughing. "He wanted to race him."
In advance of Kesses' on-field debut prior to the start of today's game, the Woodbridge, Conn. native has worked on several pieces previewing the team's season. He went down to Florida for a week during the Yankees' spring training to work on the pieces -- his partner for the projects was former Yankees pitcher Jeff Nelson -- and those are available for viewing on the Yankees' website, under the "Yankees On Demand" tab.
(For those more inclined to using social media, Kesses' Twitter handle -- @kylekesses -- contains links to the pieces.)
Kesses says he still keeps in touch with one of the Mohawks players from his time in Amsterdam, recently meeting up with outfielder Jude Vidrine during a trip to Texas. But Kesses says he has not rubbed it in to any of the team's players from that year that he's the first Mohawk from 2011 to make it to the majors.
"They probably didn't consider me to be somebody to beat them to the punch," he jokes.