CORPUS CHRISTI - When Layne Berman was five years old, his mother, Bess, was concerned.
Was he sick?
Some kids - boys and girls - just have raspy voices. But, this was no rasp.
It was more resonant. Moms know the sound, it can point to congestion.
A doctor's visit only confirmed he has "extra-thick vocal cords." At the time, his voice was much deeper than normal for a small child.
Today, that distinctive tone can be heard echoing throughout Whataburger Field on game day. The Fort Worth native was one of 45 hopefuls who tried out for the Hooks' public address announcer position in February.
Initially, his goal was to get through the first round of cuts.
"I was the third person out of 45 to go," he said. "I was a little concerned; the first guy was awesome. I'm thinking, 'What am I doing here?'"
"He obviously has a commanding voice that made a terrific first impression," said Matt Rogers, Hooks senior director of communications. "He also clearly has a passion for the game, and seemed to have a really good sense of what we look for in a public address announcer."
So, Berman joined Clint Musslewhite (2005-07), Scott Johnson (2008-10) and Lon Gonzalez (2010-13) on the list of Hooks public address announcers.
By day, Berman is a human resources consultant. Not long after graduating from the University of Texas, he started his own firm. His full-time job involves a variety of public speaking engagements, which have helped the transition to addressing thousands at the ballpark each night.
"That's helped a lot, because you have to command an audience, whether it's a handful of people or on a stage in front of thousands of people, and make them interested in labor law, which to be honest with you, is not exactly the most scintillating subject," said Berman with a laugh.
In the minds of many, public speaking is a frightening task, but as a teenager, playing guitar in a rock band helped Berman overcome stage fright. Although his gigs are now few and far between, he still enjoys plucking the strings on his Gibson Les Paul.
"When I started, it was new rock, and now, the same stuff is Classic Rock," he joked. "We used to play all the time growing up. There's nothing like making music."
Public address announcing has allowed Berman to stay involved in his second passion: sports.
"I'm a true sports fanatic," he said. "I've played every sport I could; football, basketball, softball, tennis, ping pong, you name it. I enjoy every sport. I was good at many, but not necessarily great at any."
Berman also coached his two children, Blake and Blair, now 29 and 26 respectively, in a variety of youth sports.
His announcing career began on a baseball diamond in Plano, approximately 50 miles northeast of his hometown. After one season on the mic for the Wildcats' varsity team, he was recruited for softball as well.
"The varsity softball coach - I coached her daughter for four years in basketball with my daughter - I saw her and she said, 'When are you going to announce for softball?'" Berman explained. "I was like their good luck charm. They thought when I was announcing, they just didn't lose."
He volunteered as the softball PA announcer for five years. In addition to local radio and television commercials in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, he served as a color commentator for youth football in Plano on the local access channel.
From his perch in the press box, Berman has a bird's-eye view of all the action. He recalls Leo Heras' walk-off base hit on May 17 as one of the most exciting plays he's called.
"The most fun I have is after a victory," he said. "I've taken to saying, 'And that's the ballgame folks, another exciting Hooks victory!' That's my favorite part after we win, to give the victory sound.
"The players want to win, and we want to do everything we can to help them achieve that and entertain the fans. I like being a part of the team, the Hooks team. I am proud to be a part of that."