Gators broadcaster goes pro for Spring Training in Arizona

Some sports fans only ever dream of calling a game for their favorite team. For Kyle Chandler, ’24, it became reality in March when he ran the public announcement system for a spring training game in Arizona between the Oakland Athletics and his hometown team, the Cleveland Guardians.

It all began when he met Steve Fanelli, vice president of business operations and sales for the Athletics and father of Dylan Fanelli, ’26, at a dinner for student athletes, their families and alumni during the baseball team’s spring break trip to Tucson, Arizona. Fanelli, it turns out, is a fan.

“I listened to Kyle on the online broadcasts of the Allegheny Gators baseball because obviously I’m in California and I don’t have a chance to go to many games,” Fanelli said. “With Dylan, my son, being on the team, I tune in and that’s a way to be connected to the games. So I listened to him (Chandler) on a couple of broadcasts and he was just outstanding. You could tell he had a passion for what he was doing as a student broadcaster and a really talented voice.”

A 25-year veteran of the sports industry, Fanelli knew how to spot talent. He also knew that opportunities for exposure to the “inside baseball” of the industry — such as the Athletics’ spring training internship program with Arizona State University and Grand Canyon University — can be hard to come by at small schools like Allegheny.

So, the next morning, Fanelli reached out with the opportunity of a lifetime for Chandler: tag along with him to a spring training game and see how things work in the Major Leagues.

“I was like, ‘Well, heck yeah, I want to go,’” Chandler said. “That’s an incredible opportunity. Why not? I didn’t know that I was going to do the PA system until I got down there.”

Chandler is no stranger to the microphone. Though he had fostered a dream of becoming a sports broadcaster for a long time, it wasn’t until he started a podcast in high school — “The Kyle Chandler Show” — that the broadcasting bug bit him in earnest. These days, the podcast has gained a co-host, Wolfgang Schultz, ’24, and goes by the new name of “Chandler and the Wolf.”

“He does a good job at redirecting us to different topics,” Schultz said. “You’ll see on TV and stuff there’s always that one person that is asking questions for the other person and navigating through the whole topic. He does a good job at that.”

Though Chandler originally came to Allegheny to focus on playing baseball rather than calling it, he found himself on the sideline last year after a persistent elbow injury. Unable to play baseball, he went all-in on broadcasting instead, and can be spotted in the press box at almost every sporting event on campus. Currently, he calls basketball, football and baseball games.

Chandler is unsurprised that he has branched to a variety of sports broadcasting. It’s in his blood; his grandfather was legendary Cleveland sports broadcaster Nev Chandler, who called play-by-play commentary for the Browns from 1985 to 1993, and his cousin is NBC sports anchor John Chandler.

“A lot of people really looked up to him,” Chandler said of his grandfather. “You ask any old head that goes around Cleveland nowadays, and you mention the name Nev Chandler … they’ll probably jump off the walls and go nuts.”

So, when Chandler arrived at Hohokam Stadium in Arizona on Saturday, March 4, and was informed by Fanelli that they were headed to the press box, where Chandler would run the PA system for an inning, he rose to the challenge.

“Whenever we got up to the press box, he kind of just threw me right into the fire,” Chandler said. “I had a script to read off of, but I didn’t get a chance to rehearse it or anything.”

Fanelli was aware that this move was “a bit of a gamble.” Usually, there is a designated person that runs the PA system throughout spring training. However, the Athletics’ longtime announcer has been winding down his time with the club this season, creating the perfect opportunity for newcomers to give it a shot.

“I knew he’d do a great job,” Fanelli said of Chandler. “I mean, his voice is outstanding.”

While running the PA system, Chandler did not call the usual play-by-play that he does for the Gators. Instead, the voice behind the PA microphone speaks to fans in between innings, calls out players’ names when they step up to the plate, and informs fans about activities and services located in and around the stadium. During this particular spring training game, Chandler estimated that around 6,000 Athletics and Guardians fans heard his voice.

Chandler’s task was made doubly difficult by the fact that he was not announcing his hometown Guardians’ batters, but instead the Athletics’ batters. His coolheadedness under pressure particularly impressed Fanelli.

“He stepped right in and did proper pronunciation and the right tone,” Fanelli said. “We now have the pitch clock in major league baseball for the first time so he had to do all of this in a really tight window and he pulled it off. It was flawless.”

Though he called for the Athletics, as a Clevelander, Chandler is a self-described “big-time” fan of the Guardians. That Chandler’s favorite team happened to be playing the Athletics on the day he visited was a coincidence, but a welcome one.

“In terms of the Guardians being there, it was really cool,” he said. “Because, one, I didn’t expect it. But two … what are the chances that the one spring training game that I go to for the entire season (was the Guardians)?”

The Allegheny men’s baseball team will play Chatham University and Waynesburg University throughout the next two weekends, and Chandler will be there with them, behind the microphone. Sports fans can tune into his broadcasts at — and maybe, ten or twenty years from now, can claim that they listened to Kyle Chandler before he was famous.