Meet Troy Benjamin, the producer behind Yankees video games on YES

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YES producer Troy Benjamin spends each evening telling the story of Yankees video games, however his personal story is a reasonably good one. He grew up in Harlem and The Bronx, listening to WFAN, dreaming of working in sports activities.

“I wished to be the black Chris Russo,” mentioned Benjamin, 49. “That was the dream.”

That modified round 2000 when Benjamin discovered what his good buddy and MSG Community teammate on the time, Invoice Boland, made as an affiliate director.

“I mentioned, ‘How a lot you receives a commission?’” Benjamin mentioned. “He mentioned, ‘$67 per hour.’ I mentioned, ‘What? I need to be an AD.’ I simply wished to go on that path.

“I used to be a safety guard at evening, making $10 an hour [he also had an MSG gig as a game highlight logger]. I see $67 an hour, and I used to be like, ‘Yo, I need to get in that.’ I noticed that cash dangling. You already know, you’re a black child from Harlem, I assumed $20 per hour was some huge cash. I had the bug from then on.”

New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge #99 hits a single against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 15, 2022.
While you’re watching Aaron Decide’s exploits on YES Community, Troy Benjamin is the producer weaving the broadcasts collectively.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Submit

For the previous 20 years, Benjamin has been at YES, working his means up, getting seen and studying from the community’s president of manufacturing and programming, John Filippelli, Benjamin’s predecessors within the Yankees producer chair, Kevin Smolen and Boland, in addition to big-time administrators comparable to John Moore.

Earlier than final season, Benjamin changed Boland, his good buddy and a mentor, which made it bittersweet. Benjamin is hoping to have a run as lengthy if not longer than Smolen’s and Boland’s, who every had the celebrated gig for a couple of decade. Benjamin has been up for the duty.

When you watch Yankees video games, the manufacturing doesn’t overwhelm the published, however as a substitute follows and enhances it. One side that basically stands out is how Benjamin, director Dan Barr, affiliate director Luke Miller and graphics coordinator Sean Sullivan are in a position to present super outdated video and graphics as soon as Michael Kay and Co. point out one thing from the franchise’s storied historical past. Benjamin has a really feel for the sport, which can be crucial trait for a sport producer.

“He is aware of the issues you’ll be able to’t educate,” Filippelli mentioned. “That’s why he’s an important producer. These are the issues we’ve seen in him for a very long time.”

Michael Kay stands in the broadcast booth at Yankee Stadium.
Benjamin appreciates the backing of longtime Yankees voice Michael Kay.

There will not be many black producers working in sports activities media There is no such thing as a official report, however to Benjamin’s data, he’s the one one presently doing MLB video games.

“There’s not quite a lot of black producers in quite a lot of sports activities, however undoubtedly not baseball,” Benjamin mentioned. “There may be quite a lot of pleasure. Hopefully it conjures up TV executives to rent extra individuals who appear like me.”

Filippelli’s profession has been an inspiration for Benjamin. Filippelli has taught Benjamin put together and make the sport about what’s going on, not pre-planned packaging.

“You be taught from a man like Flip, a man who has a resume that all of us need to have – World Collection, Saturday Sport of the Week – he’s large into [making sure you focus on the game,]” Benjamin mentioned.

Benjamin talked about being accepted by the likes of Marv Albert and Ian Eagle, in addition to Kay, as particular to him in his profession, however the spine of his success comes from his work ethic, discovered from his mom.

YES Network producer Troy Benjamin as a kid (middle) with his mother, Naomi Carr, and his brother, Eugene Gibbs Jr.
Benjamin as a child together with his brother, Eugene Gibbs Jr., and his mom, Naomi Carr, whom he credit for uplifting him along with her work ethic.
courtesy of Troy Benjamin
YES Network producer Troy Benjamin (right) with his mother, Naomi Carr, and his brother, Eugene Gibbs Jr.
Benjamin (proper) together with his mom and brother
courtesy of Troy Benjamin

Benjamin’s father was not within the image. His mom, Naomi Carr, an immigrant from Antigua, labored two or three jobs at a time, principally as a nurse’s aide in hospitals and in aged care.

“She put me by means of Catholic college [Cardinal Spellman in The Bronx],” mentioned Benjamin, who has a brother within the army. “She made certain I paid for school [at West Virginia]. I noticed her work ethic. West Indian mother and father, they work onerous. I do know it’s form of cliché, two, three jobs, however she did it.”

Now Benjamin has one of the coveted jobs in sports activities producing.

“I need to do that for the remainder of my life,” Benjamin mentioned. “That is the dream. I simply need to grasp this and be nice at it.”

Fast Clicks

NBC Sports commentator Jac Collinsworth poses for a photo prior to the 2022 Pro Hall of Fame Game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Las Vegas Raiders.
Jac Collinsworth’s final identify helped him land the job as the brand new play-by-play voice of Notre Dame soccer on NBC.
Getty Pictures

Within the small print of Fox Sports activities’ announcement of its new Big Ten deal, the community mentioned it should now be on the street with “Massive Midday Kickoff” each week starting this fall. In different phrases, the competitors with ESPN’s iconic “School GameDay” is on — and shifting to a different stage. You need to surprise in 2024 — when ESPN’s SEC deal and the Massive Ten contracts with Fox, CBS and NBC go into full impact — how a lot time “GameDay” will spend at Massive Ten faculties. Fox can have no qualms making its present the lead-in to its prime sport, which many weeks would be the No. 1 Massive Ten contest of the week. Will “GameDay” go to Massive Ten nation when it owns the SEC? Perhaps as a one-off to say it’s a journalistic endeavor, however is that in the very best curiosity of its enterprise? Anyway, new generations develop up with new traditions. “GameDay” goes to be “GameDay,” however “Massive Midday Kickoff,” which already has made some inroads, might be able to take an even bigger piece of the pie. … On Friday, Fox Sports activities had an old-school “Friday information dump,” saying that City Meyer is again on Massive Midday. Meyer, who failed controversially in the NFL, was good on the air his first time round with Fox. … NBC will want announcers for its new Massive Ten primetime video games. If Fox hadn’t already signed Jason Benetti, NBC would have doubtless gone after him for the Massive Ten. It has beloved Benetti on its Sunday morning MLB broadcasts on Peacock. It’s nonetheless a head scratcher that ESPN didn’t proceed to advertise Benetti and allowed him to stroll out the door. … This brings us to NBC promoting Jac Collinsworth to Notre Dame’s play-by-player. Rising up as a son or daughter of a big-name broadcaster has benefits – some seen, some not. One optimistic is a toddler of a broadcaster, as Jac was with Cris, will get to see how the mother or father labored on the craft and develops a greater understanding of what goes into the job than somebody whose mother or father offered insurance coverage. It additionally might help you get within the door. However that is the road I at all times use about somebody comparable to Joe Buck, who’s having a legendary profession. His dad, Jack, was a Corridor of Fame broadcaster. That will get you an internship, not the prospect to name the World Collection for practically 1 / 4 century. Jac, now 27 years outdated and the TV voice of Notre Dame soccer, must be good. We’ve seen when it has labored out, comparable to with Buck and Kenny Albert, but it surely doesn’t at all times. Is Jac prepared for the big-time spot? It isn’t a certain factor, from what I’ve heard. The flip facet to having your profession pushed alongside by a household identify and connections is that this: You higher be good when you find yourself younger. Rising up in a broadcasting household could be a springboard in your profession or it could possibly sink it. …

Dawn Staley, Sarah Kustok and Michael Grady pose for a photo before the WNBA Commissioner's Cup Game on July 26, 2022.
Michael Grady (proper, with Daybreak Staley, left, and Sarah Kustok) was employed because the Minnesota Timberwolves’ new play-by-player after working within the YES Community pipeline.
NBAE through Getty Pictures

Michael Grady is shifting from sideline reporter on YES’ Nets broadcasts to be the TV voice of the Minnesota Timberwolves. This continues the completely superb run by YES in populating the NBA with prime play-by-players and analysts. Grady was the No. 3 play-by-player at YES behind perhaps the energetic greatest basketball sport caller in Ian Eagle and one other prime nationwide man, Ryan Ruocco. YES has Sarah Kustok and Richard Jefferson as sport analysts. Kustok has executed nationwide stuff, and Jefferson has made an affect at ESPN. Within the studio, Frank Isola is a nationwide voice together with his ESPN work and his SiriusXM NBA present with Brian Scalabrine. The analysts whom YES has made into nationally worthy embrace Mark Jackson, who failed at – was failed by? – ESPN, went to YES after which returned to ESPN to change into a mainstay on the NBA Finals’ prime broadcast group. Greg Anthony made his mark at YES earlier than changing into a lead sport analyst on the Remaining 4. Different former YES voices embrace Michelle Beadle, Donny Marshall and Jim Spanarkle. Now Grady has earned his promotion. So why has YES had a lot success in creating broadcasters? It begins with hiring effectively, which begins with Filippelli, the president of manufacturing and programming. It then will get into growth, which is the place the good popularity of Nets producer Frank DiGraci is necessary. Grady has earned this new perch by calling Liberty video games in the course of the NBA offseason after which coming off the sidelines to sub in for Eagle and Ruocco. These two set a excessive bar, however once you listened to Grady, you could possibly hear an NBA-level play-by-player. … Massive week and large spending for CBS. The community not solely picked up the Massive Ten for round $350 million per 12 months to succeed the SEC 3:30 p.m. Saturday window, however they retained the rights to the Champions League, the largest membership soccer match on the planet, growing their outlay from round $100 million per 12 months to $250 million per. Amazon got here in second for Champions League. UEFA nonetheless plans to promote the Spanish language rights to the occasion.

Who’s the best participant/analyst ever?

Charles Barkley smokes a cigar during the pro-am round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf tournament in Bedminster, NJ., Thursday, July 28, 2022.
Charles Barkley is unmatched in his mixture of enjoying and broadcasting success.

In gentle of the latest information of Charles Barkley spurning LIV Golf, I used to be serious about who’s the very best combo of an analyst and participant of all time. It might increase right into a full piece sooner or later. That is the unofficial checklist I got here up with:

1. Barkley
2. Michael Strahan
3. Terry Bradshaw
4. Frank Gifford
5. Troy Aikman
6. John McEnroe
7. Tim McCarver
8. Johnny Miller
9. Doug Collins
10. Chris Evert

Others who may very well be thought-about: Merlin Olsen, Phil Simms, Invoice Walton, Shaquille O’Neal, John Smoltz and Howie Lengthy. If coaches have been counted, John Madden can be included, however would lose to Barkley. Barkley is probably the most entertaining sports activities studio analyst ever and was named to NBA’s checklist of the highest 75 gamers of all time.

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