Rosen revels in extreme broadcasting

Desert denizen has had to make friends with heat and home runs

(High Desert Mavericks)

By Mark Shugar / | July 13, 2007 4:00 AM ET

For years, the California League has been infamous around the Minors as a haven for hitters, and thanks to ballparks like Mavericks Stadium in Adelanto, Calif., that reputation appears to be safe.

Along with Lancaster's Clear Channel Stadium, the home of the High Desert Mavericks is well known as one of the worst of the worst places a pitcher can find himself on the mound.

Jon Rosen is in his third season calling games for the Mavericks and admits that he's yet to witness a hurler develop a formula for steady success in Adelanto.

"We will get a five-game series during the year in which the pitchers have to go through a full rotation. Nobody is spared," he said. "That can frighten a pitching staff a little. We've tried to find out what one kind of uniform pitcher can succeed in that ballpark, and we just haven't found one."

Teams have to play good defense too, which Rosen cites as an obvious difference between last year's Mavericks club, which bowed out in the first round of the playoffs, and this year's version, which has spent this season dead last in the Cal League's South Division.

"This year, our defense is just absolutely abysmal -- far and away the lowest fielding percentage," Rosen said. "Going into our last game we had 12 more errors than anyone else in the league. And if you combine that with a team that has the highest ERA in the league -- even though we're hitting -- it's still a team that's struggling right now.

"There's such a big reliance on defense in this park, perhaps more than others. The defense has to be there. That's what turned an average, mediocre, well-balanced team into a playoff team last season."

Rosen also said that any pitchers who enter High Desert looking to pad their stats are in for a rude awakening.

"Working in High Desert, you're not going to have one of the top five staffs in the league," he said. "We had a good staff last year, but we still ranked about sixth all year long."

As trying as the experience can be for the pitchers, Rosen isn't spared either. He regularly has to call games with football-like scores, which means he has to come to the ballpark every night prepared for the long haul.

"There are other parks in this league where 2-1 and 4-2 scores are commonplace -- San Jose, Modesto," Rosen said. "A lot of times I joke around with their broadcasters about how they get to call games that are, on average, a half an hour shorter than our games.

"It's a little bit more challenging because of the chaos involved at Mavericks Park. You see just about everything when you go through a season in Adelanto. Three- and four-run leads aren't that impressive. There are always comebacks, and the offense you see is unique to this stadium."

Rosen was introduced to that unique offense during his first season with the Mavericks in 2005. The club was littered with first-round draft picks, including Billy Butler, Chris Lubanski and Mitch Maier.

"I really got to practice my home run call that year," Rosen said. "There were [a Cal League record] 205 of them."

So calling home runs now comes naturally for Rosen, as does surviving the 100-plus degree heat that's a summer standard in Adelanto. In fact, last week the Mavericks Stadium press box air conditioner sputtered to a stop during a 107-degree scorcher.

Battling the heat and embracing the small-town atmosphere have given Rosen a heightened respect for what players have to cope with on the field.

"I think the players that come through here have to put up with a lot," he said. "The ballpark's in the middle of nowhere. The ballpark isn't as glamorous as other stadiums around the league, and it's unbelievably hot every single day.

"It's really trying on these players. If they just survive here -- playing in these extreme positions, playing in this remote South California ballpark -- that says a lot about their character."

And a lot about the man who calls Mavericks Stadium his home, even if he has to spend a few extra, air-unconditioned hours there calling home runs.

Mark Shugar is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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