Mr. Smile

Turk Krenek shares a laugh with a few fans in between innings in a game earlier this year.

 

One man has been the main public address announcer for Ricebirds baseball over the last two-plus decades. Turk Krenek, the father of Ricebirds coach Russell Krenek, has been the voice heard over the loudspeakers at home baseball games longer than any player on the current team has been alive. 

Since 1997, Turk has been the man behind the microphone and this Friday will be the last chance this year to hear his voice when the Ricebirds take on Stafford at home.

The long-time public address announcer’s entry into the position wasn’t something he sought out in 1997, but instead, a by-product of seeing a need and filling a need.

“Getting anyone to work in the press box was always a chore,” Turk said. “I thought that was one thing I can do to help the team. I didn’t mind talking on the mic. I kind of got hung with job week after week and it kind of stuck.”

Turk started when his second son, Russell, began playing for the Ricebirds and continued on until his youngest son, Boomer, graduated. Out of sons playing for the Ricebirds, Krenek still remained in the press box behind the microphone.

“I had friends (sons) playing. I had cousins (sons) playing. So I was going to the ball games anyways,” Krenek said. “I don’t think anyone ever worried about having an announcer, they knew that I was going to be there.”

Before Krenek took over the announcing duties, parents would rotate in and out when they could make it and, at times no one would be in the booth. Since he’s taken over, no coach has had to wonder who’s going to help out in the booth. Krenek has missed very few games in his career, going as far to schedule vacations or things he needs to get done around Ricebird home games.

“Part of (a coach’s) responsibility is to make sure there is a gate taker, someone keeping up with the scoreboard and someone to announce,” Krenek said. “I thought if I could sign up for announcing, it’s one less thing they have to worry about and they can worry about coaching the boys between the lines.”

When Krenek took over in the late 1990s, he didn’t have all technology at his fingertips like the way it is now for fans at Legacy Park.

“We had a mic and a scoreboard at the old field at Youth Memorial Park,” Krenek said. “Now here we have a sound machine and we can play a number of different sound effects.”

At Legacy Park after wins, you’ll hear the Ricebird Fight Song. On foul balls, a sound effect of a windshield breaking. After scores, the train horn. Players get walk-up music and in between innings to help keep people engaged Krenek will play music.

While he is a life-long Ricebird, when he got behind the microphone Krenek wanted to bring an even-keeled approach to announcing. Traveling to watch his sons play, he had experienced rude announcers towards the away team and that wasn’t something he wanted to emulate.

“I’m not going to do, ‘Oh there is a great play,’ or anything like that,” Krenek said. “I don’t think that’s my job here. I’m to announce who’s playing and just to keep the crowd informed. Whenever there is a change (on the field) I’d like for (people) to know that.”

Throughout the years, the best compliments have been when opposing fans tell him afterward they appreciated that he announced a fair ball-game.

It may seem like a straight-forward and easy job, but lots of work goes into being the Ricebird public address announcer. Krenek has to get the press box in order, get lineups from both coaches and learn how to pronounce names for all the players that the Ricebirds are playing that day.

While he has been in the press box announcing the games, his wife Cathy has been by his side for a big chunk of time doing the scoreboard or whatever else is needed. Krenek has had different players parents helping him do the scoreboard since he’s been in the press box, but like him, the main constant has been his wife.

Throughout the years, Krenek has said the names of every Ricebird great and seen countless jaw-dropping plays and has no plans on calling it quits anytime soon. It takes a big commitment to dedicate every home game to the Ricebirds. But with his son still coaching, he’s still in pressbox playing the fight song after each win.

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