NEW ORLEANS -- When MLB Network needed some assistance calling a one-sided game at the Urban Invitational, they called to the Urban Youth Academy bullpen. Reginald Singleton, a veteran of the academy's junior broadcasting program, came out to lend his voice for play-by-play duties.
Singleton, who also appeared as a guest on MLB Network last season, got to call a full half-inning in Saturday's 15-0 victory for Louisiana Tech over Southern University. Singleton pulled double duty as the public-address announcer, and the high school junior enjoyed his day in the sun.
"The difference between last year and this year is that I'm more focused and more mature," he said. "I've seen the tape from my last time, and I've seen it about a million times now. So what I'll do is look at this tape, review it, and look at the things I need to correct and look at the things I've improved on."
Singleton is one of the more polished members of the Urban Youth Academy's junior broadcast team, and he's proven his diligence time and time again. The youngsters have learned on the job at the academy, performing various broadcasting tasks at each of the venue's games and tournaments.
Jerald James, another member of the broadcast team, said it's been a great learning experience.
"Weekly, we try to do a podcast," James said. "We mostly cover Major League Baseball but we also try to cover football and basketball. What Reginald did today is basically a piece of cake, because he does this weekly, and daily when we talk sports at lunch. This is our whole lives, besides education. When we're here, not only do we do the podcasts, we film what's going on at the academy and do interviews."
James described Singleton as the backbone of the broadcasting team, and his peers look up to him to gauge their own progress. Singleton, moments later, credited his fellow broadcast team members with pushing him to be better every day and giving him a new perspective on the tasks at hand.
The emotions come into greater clarity for Chad Smith, the mentor behind the broadcast program. Smith first met Singleton as a teacher in his sixth-grade class and convinced him to try his hand at broadcasting. Now, five years later, it's hard for Smith to believe how far Singleton has come.
"This is actually a dream come true," Smith said. "I've always wanted to be a broadcaster but didn't have the opportunity to do it. I was working with Reginald when he was in sixth grade, and I pulled him in because I saw his talent. Five years later, he's a junior in high school. To see him progress the way he has, it's a blessing. I feel like a proud father. I feel like he's my son. I'm just so elated by his progress."
The score was 9-0 when Singleton got his turn at the microphone, and he didn't get much in the way of action. The Southern pitching staff hit one batter and issued three consecutive walks, and the score was 12-0 by the time his broadcasting stint ended.
"Really, the whole program prepared me for it," Singleton said of calling an inning alongside former MLB veteran Cliff Floyd. "By the time I got called up for the top of the fifth, it was smooth sailing from there."
After his inning, Singleton went right back to his duties as the PA announcer, announcing players' names and numbers.
"Being the PA announcer is by far the easiest," he said, "Because it's just a few announcements and then you announce the name, the number and who's up to bat. Being a broadcaster is much more fun for me because you get to add some impressive catch-phrases. You can actually describe the action. It's almost like painting a picture. You can see what you're doing and critique it at the same time."