Ben Shulman may have followed in his famous father’s footsteps, but he plans on carving his own path.
The 17-year-old Shulman is calling the games for the Barrie Baycats this season as the team’s play by play announcer and knows that many people may be comparing him to his famous father Dan, the voice of the Toronto Blue Jays on Sportsnet.
“Every now and then people will look at me when I say Shulman and ask; I’m in no way ashamed of the name obviously but it usually only lasts a second or two before we just get on to other things,” said Shulman.
Shulman lives in Thornhill and attends high school there while preparing to head to the University of Syracuse for broadcast journalism. While growing up around the profession his whole life, Shulman sees his love for calling games as something different.
“I wasn’t always the best at playing sports, so I figured I’d call the games,” joked Shulman. “No, really though I’ve always been fascinated with how a broadcaster captures a moment in time for athletics. A great play or a historic moment about to happen is something I’m glued to when it's going on; I want to be a part of that and help people listening or watching at home feel like they’re right there.”
Shulman is in his first season of calling for the Baycats after it being brought up by his friend and fellow broadcaster Dante De Caria who had previously been with the IBL club in last year’s record making year. As De Caria was headed to Toronto Blue Jays affiliate the Lansing Lugnuts, it was mentioned that maybe Shulman should meet with Baycats management and fill the void left at the headset. Shulman was excited to get going and work for a team that is known for being a great place to work.
“I can’t say enough about the Barrie Baycats and their management team,” said Shulman. “Everyone has been so nice and made me feel at home, helping me get whatever I need and just really being encouraging while I work my first real broadcast position. The players are also just fantastic and you can tell that they all get along and treat each other like brothers; they have also treated me with the utmost respect and as a young guy you worry how that will go, if they’ll kind of not have time for you. One time I was having problems with the Wi-Fi and Glenn Jackson gave me his phone for the hotspot; just really classy guys.”
Coming into a league that he was relatively unfamiliar with, Shulman does what every good broadcaster does and studies. Knowing the players, where they’ve been, any trades or stats are important going into game day; and while it takes years of working for a broadcaster to get his or her own call or catchphrase, Shulman doesn’t have anything he uses on a regular basis right now and isn’t planning on forcing it to happen.
“It’s still really early for me though after a homerun I do say ‘gone’ with each one, but that’s hardly my thing,” said Shulman. “I just want to make sure I’m ready for each game and that means researching everything I can before the game and at the ballpark I’ll head down and talk to the players, see what their feelings are heading into the game that day. I’ve really gotten to know the guys on the Baycats so I am doing a lot of background stuff on the opposing teams this season and finding out what’s needed to make the game enjoyable and informative for those listening.”
Growing up with a dad who has worked for TSN, ESPN and now Sportsnet while travelling all over for baseball has its perks, such as Shulman having been to 25 of the 30 ballparks in Major League Baseball. With a bright future ahead of him, the young broadcaster gives a surprising answer when asked by Barrie Today on what his dream job would be in the field.
“Hockey Night In Canada would be the ultimate dream job,” said Shulman. “I know, it should be baseball, right? I played more hockey than anything growing up and it’s such an iconic show, but I just hope to be good enough and prepared enough to call games professionally for any sport when my time comes; I love all sports and the magic that usually happens with them.”
Follow along with Ben Shulman on Twitter at @benshulman7 or on Baycats game day at this website.