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Palatine youth holds his own as guest announcer for Sox
By Joshua Welge | Daily Herald Staff

Ryan Connelly,11, of Palatine, gets his chance to shine as he gives the broadcast booth a try during the third inning.


Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/20/2008 12:06 AM | Updated: 8/20/2008 9:37 PM

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Ryan Connelly was about to live any fan's dream behind the mic at U.S. Cellular Field when he stared at the imposing name in front of him.

Yuniesky Betancourt. Cuban-born Seattle Mariners shortstop. Public address announcers shudder at the mention.

"When I saw it I went 'Oh, my God,'" Ryan said. "I was hoping he'd get a hit in the last inning so I could start with Ichiro (Suzuki)."

Ryan called out all seven syllables like an old pro. The 11-year-old from Palatine was off and annunciating.

Ryan got the call to man the P.A. booth in the third inning of Tuesday's White Sox game by winning the first ESPN Zone Junior Broadcaster competition. He beat out nine other kids in a competition in July at the downtown restaurant.

"They gave us a script of highlights and we could read or ad lib," he said. "I did a little bit of both."

Ryan's dad, Chris Connelly, won the ESPN Zone Couch Potato contest in 2005.

"This is his chance to shine," said dad.

Ryan rehearsed for his big call by watching 2005 White Sox World Series DVDs, turning down the volume to pretend he was doing a live game.

"I've been practicing my names," he said, "but no amount of practice can prepare you for this."

After breezing through daunting Mariners names Yuniesky Betancourt, Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez in the top of the third, Ryan was psyched for the first Sox batter of the bottom of the inning.

"A.J. Pierzynski," he belted out with bravado. "He's my second-favorite player," Ryan admitted later.

After a flawless inning in the booth, maybe the kid will be invited back. His favorite team even scored twice with him at the mic. Ryan got to watch his favorite player, Nick Swisher, hit a homer.

Now it's time to go back to being a fan. Ryan has that covered, too.

"I usually have my schedule cleared," he said, "to watch the games."