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Zanaboni wading into e sports announcing with hopes of making a big splash

Joe Avento • Mar 23, 2020 at 10:00 AM

As long as he can help it, Joey Zanaboni’s voice won’t stop, even if the games do.

Zanaboni, the play-by-play man of the Johnson City Cardinals, spends most of his time announcing various sporting events around the country, from minor league baseball to college athletics.

If you have a game, he will announce it. And he does it in a style that leaves you laughing and wondering if you really heard what you think you just heard.

The answer, invariably, is yes.

Zanaboni’s fresh approach to play-by-play made him the talk of the town last year, and he’s coming back to Johnson City for more if and when the Appalachian League season goes on.

However, with the world of sports currently at a complete standstill, Zanaboni has been forced to dig deeper to look for work. If he had a simile about a guy wearing a sandwich board that says “Will announce games for food,” he’d use it about now.

“I’m like everybody else, kind of in a tough spot,” Zanaboni said. “I was ready to really have a big stretch of business the next two months. It’s a crazy thing because there’s no sports going on anywhere.”

Zanaboni was in the midst of doing St. Mary’s University baseball and softball games in San Antonio, Texas. He worked other sports for the school throughout the year.

He was also scheduled to announce some junior college national championship games and recently signed a deal to announce some minor league indoor football.

That’s all gone now.

“I’m trying to find some work,” he said. “It’s a tough time. I’m trying to stay positive and see if something new is out there.”

That something new just might be e sports. Zanaboni is hooking up with one of the top gamers specializing in MLB The Show — @McGunski — to announce some games.

It would seem to be a match made in video-game heaven, a new-age announcer finding his way into a new-age sport.

“The only live games right now are video games,” Zanaboni said. “I’m going to do some announcing on his feed. He’s got a pretty wide ranging streaming platform, 40,000 or 50,000 views on his streams. I’m trying to get a head-first dive into the deep end of video game streaming. It might be a good way to get out there and show the old chops.

“It’s a good opportunity to network and pivot and see what that’s about.”

The games will be seen on Youtube, Twitter and Twitch, a leading App for gamers. Zanaboni, who can be found on most social platforms under the name joey_zana, says he might have a deal in the works to do some voice-overs on a video game as well.

Zanaboni went international over the winter, announcing some Australian Baseball League games. And he didn’t even leave the country.

While visiting his parents, he announced games of the Geelong-Korea team. It was an interesting endeavor. The game was being played in Australia and Zanaboni was in St. Louis watching on a monitor. All the graphics were being put together in South Korea.

Somehow, it was all melded together into a coherent production.

“It was a crazy, fun experience getting up at 2 a.m.,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing what you can do without breaking the bank in this day and age.”

Zanaboni will be back in town — provided the Appalachian League season ever gets started.

“I have every hope that they will,” he said. “Whenever that first game is, I’m going to be there with the brightest red shirt that I have. I want to get back to doing that and pick up where I left off in the Appalachian League championship game last year.”

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