Area sports announcer Spiro Psaltis has voice put on hold amid coronavirus

Area sports announcer Spiro Psaltis poses with a microphone at an empty Stengel Field in Glendale.
(Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

It’s been the most unusual of spring seasons for Spiro Psaltis.

One that’s ultimately silenced his well-known voice from several decades of proudly calling area sporting events behind the microphone as a public address announcer.

For many years, Psaltis has found himself situated behind home plate at venerable Stengel Field organizing and announcing the visiting and home lineups for Glendale Community College baseball games. The La Cañada Flintridge resident and Glendale High graduate has also been a staple announcing the batting orders to the spectators who settle into the bleachers for a few hours to hear the ball ring off a bat or pop into the catcher’s glove.

He’ll make announcements in between innings regarding items at the concession stand or where the nearest restrooms are located.

It’s all changed for Psaltis, however, who suddenly doesn’t have any area contests — college or high school — to announce after all sporting events in the state were canceled in March and April because of the novel coronavirus amid a global pandemic.

“It’s indeed a very strange time not getting prepared to call games and doing research on the teams beforehand,” said Psaltis, who graduated from Glendale in 1977 and USC in 1981. “It’s a passion that I have to announce and I like to help out anyway I can.

“I’m comfortable sitting in my perch behind home plate and having the chance to interact with people. We were into the Glendale college baseball season for a little more than a month when they eventually canceled the rest of the season because of the virus. Just like that, it was a quick hit. A disease like this is something we’ve never experienced in our lifetimes.”

Area sports announcer Spiro Psaltis poses with a microphone at an empty Stengel Field in Glendale on Thursday, April 16, 2020.
(Raul Roa/Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)

Psaltis, who helped the USC baseball team win an NCAA Division I championship as a pitcher in 1978 under legendary baseball coach and former Glendale resident Rod Dedeaux and served as head baseball coach at Glendale High from 1987-96, is also the public address announcer for the Glendale college football and basketball programs. In addition, Psaltis is the voice of the Glendale High football, basketball, baseball and track and field squads and also does some events for Crescenta Valley and La Cañada highs.

He’s developed a routine leading up to game time.

Psaltis normally checks in with the opposing coaches well before a contest to verify rosters, records and additional current information to help make things run more smoothly.

It’s indeed a busy schedule to keep and master.

“You have to know some different things heading into a game,” said Psaltis, who has lived in La Cañada Flintridge for 16 years and is vice president of the Glendale YMCA Quarterback Club. “You have to be confident in what you do. You have to show real professionalism and be a little entertaining at the same time.

“You need to get your information and be concise and correct. Every game is a new adventure. The players are different, but it’s fun.”

Whether it’s inside the gymnasium or in a stadium press box, Psaltis’ voice can be heard echoing around the venues.

He’s got several trademark calls, including “Bingo” and “Move the chains” for basketball and football contests, respectively. “Bingo” refers to a Glendale High basketball player converting on a three-point shot and “Move the Chains” signals a first down for the Glendale High football team at its home location of Moyse Field.

“That’s where you need to make things entertaining,” Psaltis said. “That’s where the enthusiasm comes into play. It sticks.”

Ray Calame, a Glendale High graduate who attended Glendale college, sits courtside with Psaltis for Glendale High basketball games and inside the Moyse Field pressbox for football contests.

Calame, who is a camp development director at the Glendale YMCA, said Psaltis’ voice is instantly recognized by the crowd.

“He’s the voice of Moyse Field,” Calame said. “I’m right near him at all of the games and he’s very efficient, positive and humble.

“At the basketball games, we feed off of each other. He’s very good at keeping up on the statistics, so it’s a lot of fun working with him.”

Glendale High boys’ basketball coach Ib Belou, who took over the program in 2015, stands on the sideline about 10 feet from Psaltis during home games.

Belou, who guided the Nitros to a postseason appearance in the winter, said Psaltis’ work is appreciated.

“Spiro has been extremely supportive of the programs in Glendale,” Belou said. “He’s always checking in on our teams and he’s respectful to our teams and the visiting teams.”

Former Glendale college baseball coach Chris Cicuto has heard Psaltis announce Vaqueros games for more than a decade.

Cicuto, who is the college’s athletic director and was the Vaqeros’ baseball coach from 2003-18, said it’s strange not hearing Psaltis’ voice on the microphone.

“You just have to look at athletes who have been impacted by his voice and they remember that,” said Cicuto, who led the Vaqueros to six Western State Conference titles and one state appearance. “He’s definitely got that positive influence in sports and you can see the relationships he builds speaking to friends, families and athletes.

“He’s done this from youth to high school to college athletics. It’s just sad that we won’t be able to have the opportunity to hear him for the rest of this season.”

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