Everett's Dillon delivers 2,000th radio broadcast
“We mark the time with numbers,” Pat Dillon said. This week's digits add up to something special and unique. As High-A Everett hosted Spokane on Wednesday night at Funko Field, AquaSox radio voice Dillon was behind the mic for his 2,000th game. That's a milestone for any broadcaster, let alone
“We mark the time with numbers,” Pat Dillon said.
This week's digits add up to something special and unique.
As High-A Everett hosted Spokane on Wednesday night at Funko Field, AquaSox radio voice Dillon was behind the mic for his 2,000th game. That's a milestone for any broadcaster, let alone someone who has called games for the same franchise since Opening Day 1998.
“It took 26 seasons and about two weeks to get here, and I’m just grateful,” said Dillon. "I’m grateful to be doing what I do for a living. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve worked with and for great people. There are so many memories, and it has been such a rewarding experience for me and my family.”
Congrats on your 2000th game @AquaSoxRadio pic.twitter.com/XcBF75BViF— Everett AquaSox (@EverettAquaSox) April 28, 2022
Game after game, summer after summer, Dillon has been a constant for AquaSox fans since he was named to his post ahead of the 1998 season. A Southern California native, Dillon grew up on a diet of Vin Scully broadcasts throughout his formative years before being introduced to another legend once he migrated north.
“When I moved up from California to Washington in the late 1980s, I at the time wasn’t a Mariners fan, but I became a Mariners fan, and that was before I even got into broadcasting in the mid-’90s. Dave Niehaus had a lot to do with that,” Dillon said of the late Mariners' Hall of Fame broadcaster. “Also back when I was growing up in southern California and listening to Vin Scully in the late ’80s, early ’90s, not a lot of games were on TV. If you wanted to follow the team and follow them in real time, all you really had on most nights were the radio broadcasts. That was a big influence on me.”
For his first 22 seasons with Everett, Dillon was the voice of a Class A Short-Season club that played 70 games plus the postseason, beginning in mid-June each year. That schedule worked well for his family life but left him wanting more.
“The short season goes by really fast, and at the end of every season, I always had the thought, ‘That was too fast. I wish it was just a little bit longer,’” he said. “Now we have a longer season.”
With the restructuring of Minor League Baseball ahead of the 2021 campaign, Dillon and the AquaSox made the move to High-A and the corresponding 140-game schedule. That’s provided Everett’s voice with new opportunities, including this season when he’ll call AquaSox home games and select road series alongside home on-field host and road broadcaster Steve Willits. That adjustment has provided flexibility for Dillon, wife Aleeta and daughter Taryn, now 16.
“It’s the only thing they’ve ever known, and that’s just something that really defines part of who I am, being a radio guy in the Minor Leagues,” he said. “There really isn’t anything like it, and I’ve been so blessed that they've made allowances for me to be able to do this for a living. I don’t know what I would’ve done had it not been for broadcasting. If I had done something else, it sure would not have been this fun and rewarding, that’s for sure."
Every broadcaster has memories of their best moments. A few stand out to Dillon, like Chris Snelling’s cycle in 1999, still the only one in franchise history, or when Everett broke through for its first -- and still only -- Northwest League title in 2010.
“That was a great team,” he said. “It was a great memory. They had come close a couple times before and since then, but that will always stand out.”
A few years later, an Everett product came back to the AquaSox. Longtime M’s ace Félix Hernández, who dominated NWL hitters as a 17-year-old in 2003, returned for a 2016 rehab start in front of the largest crowd in Everett history. He even did so with his brother, Moises, serving as the AquaSox pitching coach. In a conversation with Moises, Dillon floated the idea of getting a once-in-a-lifetime photo.
“I got ready for the broadcast, walked in the clubhouse and Félix was right there,” Dillon said. “I said, ‘Hey, Félix, would you come outside and take a picture with my daughter?’ And he said sure. It was a great dad moment because I took my wife and daughter into the hallway outside the clubhouse and said, ‘Wait here.’ And then I went in and came back with Félix Hernández, so that was great.”
Dillon spoke of his gratitude to AquaSox fans who have been with the team since his first days.
“Folks who are loyal Minor League fans are a special breed,” he said.
Another class of supporters means something different.
“When I get an email from a player’s mom or girlfriend or somebody in their family, and they say how much they appreciate having games available and they really enjoy the broadcast, that’s all I really need,” Dillon said. “I think that’s all any of us really need. I had a scout with the Cubs about seven years ago come up, and he wanted to meet me because he enjoyed the broadcast. When somebody who is in baseball has an appreciation and thinks you’re good, again, that’s it. That’s all any of us really need to be validated in this business.”
The arrival of game No. 2,000 afforded Dillon the chance to take a moment to embrace his accomplishment. But when Everett’s starter delivered his first offering of the day, it was back to business.
“I know the folks in the front office have a little something planned to recognize me, and that’ll feel good, but once the game gets going, it’ll feel just like any other game," he said. "It’s special. We mark the time with numbers, and it’s 2,000, and I don’t have any plans to leave any time soon.
“We’ll just keep going and see how far we can get.”
Tyler Maun is a reporter for MiLB.com and co-host of “The Show Before The Show” podcast. You can find him on Twitter @tylermaun.