Q&A: Columbus Clippers PA announcer Matt Leininger

  • Photo by Meghan Ralston
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From the April 11, 2013 edition

Sports have always played a big role in Matt Leininger’s life. He grew up playing baseball and football, and even started for Urban Meyer at Bowling Green University. Now Leininger announces games instead of playing in them.

After winning a contest while at Ohio Center for Broadcasting in 2011, Leininger was awarded a guest spot as the PA announcer for the Columbus Clippers. That one shot turned into a full-time gig almost immediately. If you’ve been to Huntington Park, you know Leininger’s raspy, deep voice. Here’s a bit about the man behind it.

I was going to the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, and we had a contest: Who could read the starting lineup for the Blue Jackets best. The award for winning the contest was doing the PA announcing for the last Clippers preseason game in 2011.That was my first game.

It was supposed to be a one-time deal. My current boss came up to me after the game and said, “You killed it. Are you available to do other games?” You’re wasting your time even asking me that. Then my boss asked me if I could do the home opener weekend. You’re wasting your time even asking me that. After that it just kind of grew … and I do about 90 percent of the games.

I announce when a player walks up to bat; I do a pitching change or [substitution] and between innings I have two or three [ad] reads. And I have a list of reads before the game, 10 to 12 of those same types of ads. I bust out the starting lineup, announce the national anthem and there we go. I also emcee the hot dog race.

I started playing baseball when I was eight. I was on travel teams, playing 100-plus games a year. Then all of a sudden I grew into six [foot] five [inches] and 275 pounds. “Hey, you should play football.” So football became my focus.

I got a scholarship to play at Bowling Green and started as a true freshman under Urban Meyer. I played defensive line. It’s intense — he’s intense — playing for Meyer, but he gets every single thing out of every single person. He knows how to get into your head, but in a good way. It’s an experience I’ll be telling my grandkids about because he’s going to be one of the greatest coaches ever.

My favorite part of the job is seeing everybody have a good time out here. Last year we had a “Star Wars” theme night. All the kids got plastic light sabers, and after the game there was a fireworks show. After the lights went down and the light sabers came up, all I could see all the way around the stadium was pink, purple and blue light sabers waving all throughout the crowd. I love when you see a kid get really excited about being handed a foul ball. I know how much this game meant to me when I was little. Baseball raised me right, and you hope the kids get to experience at least one game a season and have a good time. I also love when my parents get to come out and hear me.

My goal is to voice a Pixar movie. I want to be a voice-over artist … doing cartoons and that type of stuff. I look at my vocal range as limitless, except I can’t do women, and I can’t do kids.