Every time Roger Hoover steps into the radio booth at Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, a baseball-shaped hole in a pillar behind his seat serves as a reminder of the damage a foul ball can inflict.
The Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp announcer — and 2010 University of Tennessee graduate — now has a whole new reminder. Hoover was calling a game at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, on Wednesday when a foul ball flew into the broadcast booth and shattered his laptop.
It was a “nightmare moment,” Hoover said Friday. But the feeling since posting a photo and a clip of his ensuing call on the broadcast on Twitter has been impressive.
“The reaction on social media has really kept me in good spirits,” Hoover said.
Hoover, who is in his seventh season with the Jumbo Shrimp — the Double-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins — has been featured on “Good Morning America,” CBS and Deadspin, among others, in the past two days.
“I thought I had seen everything (Thursday) because it really made the rounds on Twitter,” Hoover said. “People were sending me clips from ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio. I was trying to sleep in (Friday) morning, but my phone keeps buzzing. …
“It’s been crazy to see the reaction from a lot of people.”
Hoover’s reaction — or lack thereof — in the moments after the foul ball struck the back of his MacBook Pro and obliterated the screen has drawn much of the attention. Hoover went silent for a few seconds, then jumped back into play-by-play mode and described the destruction of his laptop as if it were a routine groundout to second.
“And this just became one of the worst days I have had in quite some time,” Hoover said before letting out a small laugh.
Hoover, who worked for VFL Films and Vol Network during his time at UT, said his level commentary came from his training and view of play-by-play announcing.
“Red Barber, who was a legendary announcer back in the 1930s, wrote a book saying that when you are the play-by-play man, you have to be the most calm person at all times,” said Hoover, who also calls games on SEC Network and has worked for the Tennessee Smokies. “That’s mainly talking about the stadium going crazy. Everyone can be going crazy all around you, but you have to be cool and stay in the moment. I think that was my reaction when things happen on the field like that.
“I think I did that when something happened in my personal life in the course of the ballgame as well.”
Hoover continued to call the rest of the game, using an iPad and game notes to provide assistance along the way. He called it a “throwback” in a sense to call a game without as much assistance from technology.
He also has been relieved that the computer still works despite the broken screen. On Friday, he worked using an HDMI cable to display the laptop on the television in his hotel room in Mobile.
And all the while Hoover continued to hear from former Jumbo Shrimp players, friends and more in a moment of fame brought about from a stray foul ball and a stunning moment.
“That has been the coolest part of the last 48 hours,” Hoover said. “Just hearing from a lot of people that were really proud I was all right and felt sorry for the laptop, but were still pretty happy for that call. So that was nice.”