Just like the ballplayers on the Syracuse Mets' roster, team broadcaster Evan Stockton wants to make the major leagues, too.

Everyday Stockton comes to the ballpark working on his game. In the press box at NBT Bank Stadium, when the Mets are home, and the eight different International League ballparks who Syracuse will play in this season, not to mention the game-day prep done at home and in hotel rooms on the road, Stockton does his research.  Everything on players coming and going throughout the Mets' minor league system, it's Stockton's job to keep up with transactions.

Stockton, a 2018 Syracuse University graduate, wants one of the limited MLB radio and TV broadcaster positions. So do many, many others.

The deep rooted baseball fan in Stockton is the driving force towards his goal.

" I first fell in love with baseball as a kid," says Stockton who is from the Greater Detroit area.  "I used to listen to Ernie Harwell (the late longtime Tigers hall of fame broadcaster) on the radio.  I remember when I was five-years-old, my mom and nana had Ernie on the radio; locked in. Hearing him left such an impression on me."

Working his way up the minors remains in play for Stockton.

Calling games in the Cape Cod Baseball League for the Chatham Anglers, Auburn Doubledays (30 miles distance from NBT Bank Stadium), and Midwest League's Fort Wayne (IN) Tincaps (High-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres), have been baseball stops that have progressed Stockton's learning curve to Syracuse. Just like the players in Syracuse, Stockton is one step, one call away, from having his ticket punched for MLB duty.

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Since the minor leagues began their season back on April 5, Stockton's days and nights are all consumed with learning. Included in the many cities Syracuse travels to this season (while keeping a keen interest on the Mets' play on the Major league level) , Stockton is to familiarize himself with affiliates in Charlotte (NC), Rochester NY), and Worcester (MA).

With Syracuse sporting a 37-47 win-loss record heading into this week's six-game homestand with the visiting Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Miami Marlins' Triple-A affiliate), the Mets are eight games behind the International League East division leader Durham Bulls.  Winning is a priority at all levels of baseball, but equally is player development. This is what the minors do - improve in one's skills.

The emphasis is on progress.

Stockton knows Syracuse's Travis Blankenhorn leads the club with a 2.77 batting average. He can tell you with out pause that Daniel Palka is tops on the club with 49 RBIs, has 16 home runs, and has scored 40 runs.  Statistics, for broadcasters, are what bats and gloves are to down on the field to players.

Listening to Mets games, either on WSKO Radio - 1260 The Score or when watching Syracuse games televised on MiLB TV, Stockton is not only informing his audience on what's taking place on the field, but that he and Tricarico are having fun, in doing so.

During a recent seven games in six days road trip to Buffalo, with a July 5 off day, the Syracuse broadcast duo made the six-hour round trip drive to Pittsburgh, to take in a New York Yankees - Pirates game at PNC Park. Viewers and listeners on Syracuse Mets' social media outlets were also entertained on what the duo 's opinions on where the best chicken wings (Bar-Bill Tavern  Buffalo area) are on the road, and also told during the Go With Dunkin' reports their opinion on visiting a local casino.

Stockton is all about keeping it light, but always on point, while speaking into a microphone.  The easiness displayed during Syracuse broadcasts can be linked to Stockton and Tricarico knowing each other while students at SU.  Either listening to Syracuse games at the ballpark or at home, the duo grow on listeners as two trusted friends having a conversation about baseball.

Along with being drawn to Tigers baseball listening to their trusted broadcaster Harwell , Stockton smiles as he remembers his first visit to Detroit's former home ballpark - Tiger Stadium.

" I was four-years-old, and it was the last year of the ballpark," Stockton explains.  " I went with my dad and Uncle Robert for a game with the Yankees.  The green grass, the lights on at night, looking around the support beams, I thought that was great."

It's refreshing to hear Stockton say that he never takes his broadcasting positions for granted. He truly values his favorite medium because, as Stockton puts it, radio is the only job where you can have a true relationship with your audience. This was his experience as a child, while riding with his family north of Detroit to their cabin, always with an ear at the car radio on how the Tigers did the day before.

Perseverance might be Stockton's number one occupational adversary.  So far, the time invested in baseball is returning favorable responses.  Baby steps up the ladder of leagues and relationships earned have Stockton knocking on MLB's front door. Until answered, Stockton continues working on his game above the field - based in Central New York.

Kristine Bellino, WIBX

Don Laible is a freelance sportswriter from the Mohawk Valley, now living in Florida. He has reported on professional baseball and hockey for print, radio, and on the web since the 1980's. His columns are featured weekly at WIBX950.com. Don can be contacted via email at Don@icechipsdiamonddust.com. 

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