Aaron Goldsmith can remember when a major-league broadcasting job seemed like a distant dream.
Like the time in 2008, when he was working a landscaping job during the day, and calling the games of the Bourne (Mass.) Braves of the Cape Cod League at night as part of an unpaid internship. Starving after one game, he went to a fast-food joint to get a burger.
“I checked my balance, and I didn’t even have a full dollar,” he said. “I couldn’t even buy a burger on a dollar menu. That’s when reality kicks you in the rear.”
From those humble beginnings, Goldsmith worked his way up the minor-league ranks, and Thursday, at age 29, was announced as the newest member of the Mariners’ broadcast team. Last year, he called the games of the Class AAA Pawtucket Red Sox.
Goldsmith will partner on the radio with Rick Rizzs as the Mariners move away from the rotating group of announcers they’ve used since Dave Niehaus’s death in November 2010. Dave Sims and Mike Blowers will continue to be the television tandem.
Randy Adamack, Mariners vice president of communications, said Goldsmith stood out from the approximately 160 applicants and was the choice among four finalists.
“As we kept going through the candidates, his name kept popping up on every list we had,” Adamack said.
At 29, Goldsmith is one of the youngest announcers in the major leagues, and he’s thrilled for the opportunity.
“Needless to say, when I got the call I had gotten the job (Wednesday) night, it was the best call of my life,” he said.
Goldsmith was late to the broadcasting game, having majored in history at Principia College, in Elsah, Ill., before attending the Broadcast Center in St. Louis.
“I was four years behind other guys my age,” he said. “As a result, I had to take low-level jobs out of the gate, but that’s exactly what I needed. I wasn’t qualified for anything else, or ready for anything else.”
His first big break was getting hired by the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs, the AA team of the Red Sox, which got him in the door of affiliated baseball after a stint in independent ball in Sauget, Ill. Goldsmith slowly moved up the ranks from Portland to Frisco, Texas (where he proposed to his wife, Heather, whom he had dated since college), to Pawtucket, and finally Seattle.
“It (the Mariners) job means more and more to me each hour it sinks in,” he said. “When I got into this business, I knew there was a chance I could spend my entire adult life on a bus riding the minor-league circuit. I had to come to terms with being happy with that or find another profession — all the while knowing if I do this the right way, learn from my mistakes, and surround myself with the right people, I had as much chance as anyone else. I always had that optimism, but I was also realistic.”
Goldsmith said he felt “a pretty instant connection” with Rizzs, who also had a minor-league background when he joined the Mariners. The two had lunch together during the interview process.
“I don’t want to make it sound like an online dating commercial,” he said with a laugh. “I think we share a lot as people. We both like to bring a smile to the park every day, bring some laughs; we take the job seriously, but we want to have fun at the same time. As I listened to him on the air (in audio files), he’s clearly someone who loves the Mariners, and you can tell he loves being in the booth.
“That’s the type of guy I want to work with. I think of myself as a guy who’s not moody, who shows up with the same warm smile every day. That’s Rick, I can tell. I’m thrilled to not only work with Rick, but to learn from him.”
Goldsmith is well aware of the legacy of Niehaus.
“No one can replace him, and no one wants to,” he said. “He’s an icon and a legend. To be given the opportunity to carry the torch as best I can is something I’ll never lose sight of.”
Four Mariners — right-hander Felix Hernandez (Venezuela), outfielder Michael Saunders (Canada), left-handed reliever Oliver Perez (Mexico) and third baseman Alex Liddi (Italy) — are on provisional rosters for the World Baseball Classic this spring. The finals are March 17-19 in San Francisco.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @StoneLarry.