The Voice of Fenway App

I’m the technology guy for my town’s Little League, so I get to do things like the website, player database, email distribution list stuff etc.  (Google Sites, Google Spreadsheets and Mail Chimp if you’re wondering… all done with a $0 budget)

Last week I got tapped to fix the PA system for the tournament season.  The home team is responsible for announcing the teams, players and coaches and playing the national anthem.

I decided I wasn’t going to just buy another CD player (seems that was the plan the last few years).  Instead I donated an old iPod with just the Anthem on it (I recommend the US Coast Guard Band rendition.)  I also replaced the “strip & twist” wiring with soldered and shrink wrapped connections.

Then I got an idea – I emailed Carl Beane, the PA Announcer for Fenway Park and asked him about announcing.  I dropped my uncle’s name because he had mentioned they were friends.

Mr. Beane responded almost immediately and was very excited to help out of tribute to his friendship with my uncle.  Turns out the drive to our field was a bit too far (2hrs each way) so we decided he could record the rosters.  I think he’s done this a few times before – because I emailed him the rosters and he emailed me back a collection of MP3s for each team with each player’s name announced separately.

Now the hard part – how to use these in the booth during the game?  I thought it’d be a simple matter of setting up a few play lists and just hitting PLAY for each name.  The big roadblock was that none of the popular music playing apps on the iPod/iPad/Android Phones had this feature to “PLAY then STOP.”  So in practice I couldn’t get it to consistently play just one file – I would almost always stop too early or play a piece of the next MP3.

Enter the “Sound Board” technology.  I’ve seen a ton of these – they are basically a collection of buttons on a screen that play a single sound when you play them.  I found a good one for Android called Custom Soundboard and was able to create a sound board for each team.  I t could not have worked any better.  I never played the wrong sound, and it always sounded perfect.  Creating the soundboards was intuitive and not too many steps.

My only regret was not having better music lined up for between the innings.  I had a play list setup on the iPod but I didn’t want to plug/unplud devices during the game.  I tried moving the files from the iPod to the droid – but the format wasn’t friendly.

Bottom line – I was open to using either an iPad, and iPod or the android and the android solution won hands down.  I was also very happy I remembered to go into Airplane mode before the game… wouldn’t want to take a call over the PA system.

You can check out the sounds Mr. Beane recorded for me on the league website here: Voice of Fenway Park recordings.

Mr. Beane provides this and similar services for a pretty small fee if you’d like his voice somewhere in your life.  Weddings, corporate events etc.  Go to Carl Beane’s official website to find his email etc.  If you’d like to hear him live – go to Fenway Park.

I think the kids liked it – I know a few of the coaches got a kick out of it – and nobody had to hear my stupid voice.  Win-win.  OH yeah, our team won the game… last inning… tie run on 3rd.  I did NOT play dirty water at the end.  I played Tweezer Reprise instead.

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