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Seeing it All From the Radio Booth

Mike Saeger Reflects on a Decade as the "Voice of the Missions"
March 13, 2020

Mike Saeger has seen it all in baseball. Winners and losers. No-hitters and walk-off grand slams. The 53-year-old Californian has even seen a ground-rule double that rolled into the dugout. Seriously. “It was probably one of the craziest plays I’ve witnessed personally,” said Saeger, a 29-year veteran radio broadcaster who

Mike Saeger has seen it all in baseball. Winners and losers. No-hitters and walk-off grand slams. The 53-year-old Californian has even seen a ground-rule double that rolled into the dugout.

Seriously.

“It was probably one of the craziest plays I’ve witnessed personally,” said Saeger, a 29-year veteran radio broadcaster who has been calling Missions games for 10 years.

As he prepares for a new season, Saeger talked in a recent interview about his most memorable moments in San Antonio and explained how a two-base hit that never reached the outfield once flustered the Missions.

“We were playing in Midland,” he said. “It was the last day of April (in 2012). And, you know, Midland is always windy. But on this particular day, it was even worse than normal, like, gale-force winds. It was crazy.”

In Midland, the winds of West Texas will take no mercy, not even on the defending Texas League champions.

“Well, Midland goes out in the first inning and scores 11 runs. Like, ‘Oh, gosh,’ 11 (to) nothing in the first inning. I’m working by myself (on the radio), how do I make this game interesting?”

Well, he did have something to talk about after Midland’s Michael Choice came to bat in the first and popped a ball high on the right side of the infield.

“It’s coming down behind first but still on the infield dirt,” Saeger said. “So (first baseman) Nate Freiman – he’s like 6-4 – big Nate goes back pedaling. Dean Anna – he’s our second baseman, he comes running over. You could tell they’re both having trouble, because that ball is dancing in the wind, like a knuckle ball.

“They end up bumping into each other, and the ball drops fair, Inside the line. It’s still on the infield dirt and (then it) kicked and had some kind of crazy English to it. So, the next thing, you see … it spins and starts shooting toward the first base dugout.”

Freiman and Anna gave chase to it, but it was too late.

“By the time one or both of them (got) up and started running after it, it’s rolling down the dugout steps,” Saeger said. “So, it’s a dead ball. Michael Choice got a ground-rule double into the first-base dugout.”

For the record, the RockHounds went on to win, 12-2.

If you like this type of storytelling, tune in this season to Saeger on 92.5 and 93.3 The Bull (KRPT-FM).

He’ll be on the call for every game of the Missions’ second season in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. Stu Paul will join him for all home games, on The Bull, the new home of the Missions.

Saeger, a native of Burbank, California, started out in broadcasting in Augusta, Georgia. He moved to Vero Beach, Florida., and then to San Bernardino, California, where he worked for 15 years.

Finally, he arrived in South Texas in 2010. Here’s a glance at Saeger’s 10 seasons with the Missions, including two championships.

2010

Finish: 68-72, third in TL South

Manager: Doug Dascenzo

Postseason all-stars: P Jeremy Hefner, P Simon Castro

Mike’s memories: Missions slugger Matt Clark hit a 10th-inning home run to complete the cycle in the third-to-last game at Corpus Christi. “Considering the season was winding down and the team was out of the race, it was one of those nice little highlights,” Saeger said. Also, a pitcher by the name of Corey Kluber posted a modest 6-6 record with a 3.45 ERA. “I don’t think anyone in the (parent-club) Padres organization envisioned him (as) the pitcher he ended up becoming,” he said. In Kluber won a pair of Cy Young Awards (2014 and 2017) with the Cleveland Indians. He is now with the Texas Rangers.

2011

Finish: 94-46, TL championship

Manager: Doug Dascenzo

Postseason all-stars: P Brad Brach

Mike’s memories: Early in the season, three fans were arrested and a Frisco player was suspended for 15 games in an incident that broke out near the visitors’ dugout at Wolff Stadium. At the end of July, Frisco’s Joe Wieland no-hit the heavy-hitting Missions. A few days later, the parent-club Rangers traded minor leaguers Wieland and Robbie Erlin to the Padres, which meant they both switched clubhouses during the series at the Wolff. Later, the Missions won a 20-inning game en route to a championship series sweep against the Arkansas Travelers.

2012

Finish: 60-80, fourth in TL West

Manager: John Gibbons

Postseason all-stars: C Ali Solis, 1B Nate Freiman

Mike’s memories: “A tough year, at 60-80…Freiman and (Cody) Decker both had big years (at the plate). Freiman drove in over 100 runs. They both hit over 20 home runs. So, you always looked forward to when those guys were coming up. I think they hit back-to-back in the lineup most of the time,” he said. Also, the ground-rule double in Midland that rolled into the dugout. “The wackiest play I have ever seen,” Saeger said.

2013

Finish: 78-61, TL championship

Manager: Rich Dauer

Postseason all-stars: OF Rey Fuentes, P Jeremy McBryde, P Keyvius Sampson

Mike’s memories: Dauer pranked his players on a late-season bus trip to Corpus Christi. He ordered a movie and showed, ‘Stealing Home,’ in which he had a bit part when it was made in the late 1980s. Players initially weren’t thrilled with the choice of the movie until they learn, during the showing, that their manager was in it. Then they insisted on re-playing Dauer’s scene “seven or eight times,” Saeger said. In the playoffs, the Missions clinched the title when they defeated the Travelers 5-0 in a Game 5 road showdown in Little Rock. Johan Limonta, who had only four homers during the season, threw a fist in the air as his title-clinching grand slam cleared the fence. “It was almost like Kirk Gibson,” Saeger said.

2014

Finish: 68-72, third in TL West

Manager: Rich Dauer

Postseason all-stars: OF Yeison Asencio, P James Needy

Mike’s memories: “The moment that sticks out for me is probably the most anti-climactic no hitter in history, or, (at least) the one I witnessed,” Saeger said. Playing in Corpus Christi, the Missions blanked the Hooks, 6-0 behind starter James Needy and relievers Frank Garces and R.J. Alvarez. Needy pitched seven innings and Garces and Alvarez one apiece. In the sixth, the Hooks got a runner to first on what was scored as an infield single. Ten minutes into the postgame radio show, Saeger was handed a note. The scorekeeper changed the call to an error, giving the Missions their first no-hitter in 30 years.

2015

Finish: 60-80, fourth in TL West

Manager: Jamie Quirk, Rod Barajas

Postseason all-stars: OF Yeison Asencio, P Colin Rea

Mike’s memories: Infielder Trea Turner had been traded from the Padres’ organization to the Washington Nationals in December of 2014, but he wasn’t allowed to join his new team right away. Meanwhile, he hit .322 with the Missions before he moved on June 14, 2015. “Everyone knew he had been traded but they couldn’t officially say anything about it,” Saeger recalled. “That was really odd.” Turner and the Nats won the World Series last fall. Later in the summer of 2015, Needy suffered a serious elbow injury in Little Rock that essentially ended his career.

2016

Finish: 58-82, fourth in TL West

Manager: Phillip Wellman

Postseason all-star: Jason Jester

Mike’s memories: Wellman made it clear that the team might struggle at the outset. He said there were prospects at lower levels of the organization but that Missions fans wouldn’t see them right away. By July, the team was 31 games under .500, Saeger said. The Missions eventually got some pitching, and the team started to turn it around. It went 32-25 the rest of the way and surged into contention for the second-half division title. In the last 42 games of the year, the Missions had eight walk-off wins at home, including a 10th-inning, walk-off grand slam from River Stevens against Corpus Christi, Saeger said.

2017

Finish: 78-62, TL division playoffs

Manager: Phillip Wellman

Postseason all-stars: SS Luis Urias, P Brett Kennedy, P Trey Wingenter

Mike’s memories: On the last day of April, a Sunday afternoon, the stadium was packed with 8,085 fans for a game against Midland. The RockHounds had the Missions down 10-1. But, “like Mount Vesuvius,” Saeger said, the Missions erupted for 10 runs in the seventh inning en route to an 11-10 victory. “Probably the most improbable comeback that I can remember,” he said. In May, Kyle Lloyd no-hit Frisco. It was the first solo no-hitter for the Missions since 1979. “Interesting thing about that was that he only struck out three batters,” Saeger said. “But his split-finger fastball was working really well.”

2018

Finish: 71-67, TL runner up

Manager: Phillip Wellman

Postseason all-stars: C Austin Allen, SS Fernando Tatis, Jr., OF Josh Naylor, P Logan Allen

Mike’s memories: Saeger called Tatis “the best all-around position player I’ve ever seen” in 29 years of broadcasting. “But the moment for me that year was Cinco de Mayo,” he said. “We’re home against the Hooks, and that’s our first game as the Flying Chanclas. The electricity was unlike anything I had ever witnessed here at the Wolff.” Trailing by five going into the ninth, the Missions rallied to win on a grand slam by Kyle Overstreet. “If we had a roof on the stadium, I think the fans would have blown it to Alice, Texas,” he said. Incredibly, Ty France produced another walk-off slam two nights later against the same Hooks pitcher, Sean Stutzman. “What are the odds of that?” Saeger said.

2019

Record: 80-60, second in PCL American Southern

Manager: Rick Sweet

Postseason all-star: C David Freitas

Mike’s memories: The Missions’ first year in Triple-A “was a lot of fun,” Saeger said. “We had some really good ball players and a fun team to watch, a team that pitched well and could hit.” Keston Hiura belted 19 homers before joining the Milwaukee Brewers for good on June 28. Saeger said a day in late July stands out, as Trent Grisham erupted for a five-hit, two home-run cycle against Sacramento. The Missions’ fortunes turned in the next 24 hours as Grisham earned a call-up to the major leagues and shortstop Mauricio Dubon was traded to the Giants. On July 31, Dubon moved over to the visitors’ clubhouse to join Sacramento, the Giants’ PCL affiliate.