This story ran in the "7th Inning Stretch" segment of the PlayBall! program at Dr Pepper Ballpark from July 14-24.
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and welcome to
Dr Pepper Ballpark!"
For the early arrivers to the ballpark, it's the words you have heard coming into the gates for every RoughRiders home game this season.
Since his arrival to Frisco in 2004, John Clemens' golden pipes and soothing tones have engulfed the ballpark, from the concourse to the stands and the berm of the outfield lawns. For over 600 nights, John has welcomed fans to the ballpark, called the batters to the plate and introduced the in-game entertainment.
John was first inspired by the long-time New York Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard as a kid. Going to a ballgame with his father, eyes wide and grinning, he told his father that this is what he wanted to do when he grew up. And he has made his way to do just that.
Want to be the Voice of Dr Pepper Ballpark some day? John is living proof that it is possible but takes hard work and commitment. Graduating college in 1965, John signed on as the play-by-play voice of the Durham Bulls, then a Class A affiliate of the Astros in the Carolina League, in his first summer out of college.
From there he ventured to Milwaukee, reporting sports and news for local radio, and then went back into baseball in 1979, when he spent three seasons as the color commentator for the Rochester Red Wings. During his time there, he saw Cal Ripken Jr. in his final minor league days in 1981. Following that stint, he moved south, where he spent four seasons with the Tulsa Drillers as their Public Address Announcer.
His move to the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex came in 2004, when he got a position covering sports for USA News (now IRN-USA Radio), a company he still works for today.
The job here-it's a side gig for John. But it's the job he loves. "This is the best job you can have in Frisco," said John. "I get paid to watch baseball, I am in an air conditioned booth and I get to drink all the Dr Pepper products I would like!"
As the faceless celebrity of the ballpark, John adores the opportunities he has to meet RoughRiders fans face-to-face. His favorite part of the job, he says, is meeting the tours that come through the press box and stop by his booth.
"For me to be able to brag to people about this place and what we do here, it's great. I love to share that with the tours.
"You never know memories are being made," John explains. "For the kids, we give them hats, a Daisy squish ball, baseball cards and 'Riders stickers and tattoos. I love giving those gifts to the kids and telling fans the story about the RoughRiders in addition to sharing with them what I do and how I do it."
Always with a smile on his face and sometimes carrying a box of donuts to share, John is a man who will be sorely missed by many here as a personality, a colleague, a voice and a friend if he ever were to leave. As far as his plans to ever depart for the next step, "they would have to chase me away," he said, with a smile and a light in his eyes likely similar to the look he had that day back at Yankee Stadium