Johnny Doskow, voice of the River Cats


Hear Johnny Doskow’s broadcasts of River Cats games on ESPN 1320.

Johnny Doskow has been the voice of the Sacramento River Cats for 16 years and did broadcast work in Iowa for eight years before that. In his time, the team’s longtime radio broadcaster has seen just about everything a person can see in baseball. Yet, as he recently attested, Doskow hasn’t tired of it, and he’s still doing the job he loves. Doskow took time out of his busy in-season schedule to talk about life with the River Cats, the sacrifices his job requires and why he might never leave.

After 16 years of doing River Cats games, it hasn’t gotten old?

Nope, never does. It’s weird. Obviously, when you get done with a season, you exhale and you decompress a little bit because it’s 144 games in 152 days—this year, 153 days, got an extra day off. So it’s a lot … I always tell guys, “If you don’t enjoy it, you should get out.” As soon as I stop enjoying it, I’m done. I’ll get out. But I still love it every day.

When you were starting off, did you ever think you’d be on the cusp of the major leagues?

Well, I was hoping. I didn’t realize how hard it was. I thought that I’d pay my dues in the minor leagues for 10, 12 years and then get a shot. But there’s so much talent in the minor leagues and guys that even are doing pre- and postgame in the big leagues. It’s as competitive of a field as you could ever see. It’s almost like acting as far as the competition is concerned. It’s maybe even harder than getting into a full-time, big-time [acting career] just because there are so few jobs and guys don’t retire. Why would they? It’s the greatest job in the world. If it’s big leagues or bust for a lot of people, it can drive you nuts. … But I look outside my broadcast booth here. Every day, I feel fortunate. I never take it for granted. Every day, I feel lucky to get to do a game here.

Is it ever hard during the season getting to spend as much time with your daughter as you’d like?

Yes, it is hard. That’s the one part of the job that’s very difficult. The last several years with FaceTime, I’m able to see her, I’m able to call her. … That helps a lot. That makes a difference. I mean, it’s not like being in person but it still makes a difference. I talk to her or now text with her every day. I feel even if I’m away, I get to see her and talk to her. It’s not that you ever get used to it, but she knows this is the deal. She knows daddy’s gone. She knows this is what he loves to do. The one thing I have taken kind of solace in is the fact that even though I’m away, I feel like I’m teaching her to follow your passion and follow your dreams and do what you love to do. She sees me happy every day because she sees me in a job that I love. If I was to have another job that maybe I wasn’t as passionate about, I was home more, I probably wouldn’t be the same guy that I am now to be a dad. … I think for her to see my love of baseball is real and I’m doing what I have a passion for, that will help her [with] what she decides to do for a career.

Does she love baseball?

She does not. She is not a huge baseball fan. I mean, she’ll listen to my games now and then. She’s more into music and the arts, things like that.

You have an orange tuxedo that looks like something straight out of Dumb & Dumber. Can you say more about it?

I made a deal with one of our former players, Erik Hiljus, who bought me that tux. We had a party for his wife’s 40th, and everybody wore tuxes. So he got me that orange tux, he said, “Well, I’m getting you this tux. I’m going to buy this tux for you, but you have to wear it once a year at a home game, every year.” I still haven’t worn it this year, but I’m going to wear it some point on Orange Friday. I’m going to wear it. That’s my agreement with him. I have to do it.

You’ve probably worked a few thousand games. Have you seen everything that you can see in baseball?

I haven’t seen an unassisted triple play yet here at Triple-A. We’ve seen just about everything, though. Seeing all these games and 24 years worth of stuff, we’ve seen a lot of stuff. But the great thing about baseball is you do see something—and [this is] such a cliche—but you do see something new every day. The other day we saw back-to-back-to-back strikeouts in one inning. The next inning, back-to-back-to-back home runs. Never seen that before. Tonight there will be something that’s never happened before. It’s pretty cool.