CHATHAM – The cotton candy-colored clouds resting above Veterans Field and the unrelenting fog rolling in from the outfield. The thrill of a towering home run or a comeback victory, and the suffocating agony that lingers in the wake of a crushing defeat.
Those are just a few of the sights – and feelings – Dan D’Uva captured while announcing Chatham A’s games during the early 2000s.
D’Uva and his childhood friend Guy Benson were still studying at Ridgewood High School in New Jersey when they conceptualized the idea and the logistics that led to Chatham eventually becoming the first Cape League team to broadcast its games in 2003.
Although both have experienced success in their respective fields – D’Uva stuck with sports, Benson turned to politics – D’Uva has continued to be a mainstay around Chatham each summer. However, instead of being in the familiar setting behind a microphone, D’Uva now helps the next generation of sports broadcasters gain valuable experience as members of the Anglers’ summer internship program.
“The idea was hatched that if the best college baseball players in the country come here, then the best college broadcasters should come here as well,” said D’Uva, the radio play-by-play voice of the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights, who spends his summers on the Cape as the Chatham Athletic Association’s media consultant.
D’Uva and Benson will return to the Veterans Field press box and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the organization’s inaugural 2003 broadcasts by announcing Chatham’s home game against Orleans at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Although it’ll mark Benson’s first baseball broadcast since he and D’Uva celebrated their 15th anniversary five summers ago, D’Uva has turned the Anglers’ broadcasting internship program into a renowned feeder system for future broadcasters and media professionals over the past decade.
Scott Braun, Keith Zubrow, Jake Eisenberg, Evan Stockton and Max Herz are a few of the broadcasters who have spent their college summers calling games for Chatham before forging careers with the MLB and NHL Networks, 60 Minutes, ESPN and numerous professional and minor league baseball franchises.
Last year’s broadcasters were Emmanuel Berbari and Ben Shulman, the son of ESPN legend Dan Shulman. A pair of Syracuse students, Joe Puccio and Ian Unsworth, are calling the action this summer.
“I am extremely proud of what the guys who have come after us have done,” said Benson, who now works as a writer, radio host and political commentator for Fox News. “The level of professionalism and hard work and focus is really wonderful to see, and a number of guys who have come through the league on the broadcasting side have gone pro.
“Everyone talks about all of the ballplayers obviously – that roster [of pros] grows every year – but we’re building a bit of a roster of our own here on the broadcasting side and that’s just fantastic.”
D’Uva and Benson never could have imagined their plan would lead to decades of prominent broadcasters starting out in the Cape League. The pair simply wanted to gain valuable experience that would help their own careers blossom when they first pitched Chatham about broadcasting its games.
“Our original vision when we started with the Chatham A’s many years ago was that we’d go off to college and try to make friends and then help those friends connect with other teams in the Cape Cod Baseball League so other teams could have broadcasters for their fans,” D’Uva said. “And in turn, we could help our friends have additional broadcasting opportunities.”
After four summers of broadcasting together, Benson moved on to an internship at the White House while D’Uva remained in Chatham for the 2007 and ’08 seasons. D’Uva was around Chatham some those next couple summers before the organization formally asked him to take on a more active role with its interns in 2012.
D’Uva broadcast games for the Trenton Devils, the New Jersey Devils’ ECHL affiliate, from 2009 until 2011. He then worked as the radio and television voice of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, from 2012 until 2017 before edging out more than 200 applicants for the Vegas job.
As much success as he’s experienced, D’Uva said he can’t imagine spending his summers anywhere else but Chatham. He maintains many relationships he developed as a teenager and even remains close with the same host family that welcomed him decades ago, Wally and Denise Dray and their children, Devon, McKenzie and Dakota.
“There are people my age who I met in Chatham 15 or 20 years ago who still come back here,” D’Uva said. “It’s like every day there’s some sort of connection to someone who I would not have known had it not been for this whole experience and it’s quite special to not only have had those relationships, but to keep so many of them fresh in my life today.”
D’Uva and Benson were both quick to praise the former CAA leaders who gave them their opportunity, including the late Paul Galop, former CAA president Peter Troy and former general manager Charlie Thoms.
“Sadly, Paul Galop passed away last year and this will be our first go-around without him,” D’Uva said of Galop, a longtime fixture in Chatham who also served as CCBL commissioner from 2003 until 2018. “He was a staple on our reunion broadcast and if it wasn’t for Paul and his wife Laurie and their family, there is no way that our broadcasting thing would have happened. There’s no way.”
Longtime Anglers fans who tune into Saturday’s broadcast will recognize more than D’Uva and Benson’s voices. D’Uva said the broadcast will feature many of its old promotional “drops” from the original broadcasts, and Troy and former Chatham manager John Schiffner are expected to join the broadcast, too.
For Benson, returning to Chatham offers a much-needed break from what he described as six years of “turbulent” news cycles.
“This is my absolute happiest place to be at this time of year with the beach, the fried seafood, the nice sunsets, the glow of the lights at Veterans Field, the hydrangeas in full bloom and then just friends and family, people I’ve grown really fond of for many years, all in one place,” Benson said. “It’s really tough to beat.”
While D’Uva said he’s eager to rekindle his broadcasting connection with Benson, he also noted he receives as much satisfaction helping the interns improve while pursuing their dreams.
“I didn’t anticipate this would turn into a teaching/coaching experience for me, but I do mean it when I say that I get as much from the students as I hope they get from me,” D’Uva said. “I find as much fulfillment in coaching our student broadcasters as I do broadcasting games myself, and I love how much of a fresh sense each year brings with young minds to mold, so to speak.
“I often say what Ian Eagle once said to me when I was a teenager, and that is, ‘It’s what you put into an experience that makes it worthwhile.’”
Visit bit.ly/3bIRnse for more information about how to access all of Chatham’s broadcasts.
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com.