Tyler Brown, a Grundy County native, recently accepted a job with Birmingham Barons, the Double A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. We caught up with Tyler just after his graduation from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Let’s start with some background. Where are you from?
“I have always lived in the Cumberland Heights area. My parents are Ricky and Patty Brown. My grandparents are Doug and Bessie Brown, who own Brown’s Dairy, and the late Herbert and Bonnie Caldwell.
“I went to Swiss Elementary School and to Grundy County High School.”
How did you become interested in sports?
“My grandfather, Herbert Caldwell, really influenced me. He got me involved in baseball. During the summer of 2001, we would watch the Atlanta Braves because he was a big fan.
“I had never watched baseball before, and the only name I knew was Chipper Jones. We would watch Chipper bat, then go off and eat or do something else for a little while and come back to watch him bat again.
“My grandfather bought me my first baseball glove, which I still have. I take it wherever I go.”
Did you play any sports?
“I played a little baseball in elementary school. In seventh grade, I played in Gruetli-Laager and in eighth grade, I played for Coach Jamie Ruehling with the Junior Jackets baseball team.
“When I got to high school I realized I did not want to play sports, but I wanted to be involved in some way. I contacted David Lowrie, (his brother, Tommy Andrews, had been my history teacher at Swiss), and told him I wanted to help out with sports at the high school. That was when I stared announcing and keeping stats.
“My freshman year I was in the press box during football games, spotting with binoculars, with David. During basketball, I kept stats for both teams – for Coach Ricky Richards and Coach Leon Woodlee. I helped with baseball and football for three years, I kept books for the women’s team for three years, and announced for both basketball teams for four years. I also announced softball games and some baseball games. For one year, I was the sports editor of the yearbook.
“Both Leon and David have been huge influences in my life. I would have to say my grandfather is my hero. And Leon, David, and Franklin Cammack are also my heroes. Leon really helped drive my career. He would pick me up and take me home from games. During football, I did not ride the bus with the team because it was always packed. I rode to away games with David.
“Franklin Cammack was my sophomore business teacher and in charge of the Future Business Leaders of America. I came in third in the state in Sport’s Management with the FBLA and got to travel to Anaheim, California with Cammack. He helped me find a college. Anything I needed, he was always there.”
After graduation, you went to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
“Yes, that’s a funny story. I am the first generation in my family to go to college. I was going around to my teachers getting advice during my senior year at GCHS. Franklin Cammack and Beth Brown both went to Middle Tennessee State University. They told me the school had the best communications program in the state. I was accepted there and at Tennessee Tech, but I did not feel comfortable with either school. I knew Chattanooga better, so, on the last night UTC was accepting applications, I applied and was accepted a few weeks later.
“My first day on campus was a whirlwind. I knew Larry Ward, the broadcaster for the Chattanooga Lookouts, and he told me to get in touch with Jay Blackman, the Director of Athletic Communications at UTC. I went over to McKenzie Arena that first day, found Jay, and gave him my portfolio of work from writing for the Herald and working with GCTV and a few other things.
“Jay told me that there were no announcing jobs open at the time, but that someone was needed to keep stats. Now, I can say I have never been to a UTC sporting event that I did not work.
“I kept stats for football and basketball for six years, was the broadcaster for softball for four years, and for the past two and one-half seasons I have worked as the Sports Information Assistant for volleyball and softball.
“In addition to working with sports, I was the editor-in-chief of the ‘University Echo,’ the student newspaper, for two years.”
How did the Birmingham Barons job come about?
“During the 2012 baseball season I was writing for a blog out of Los Angles, the ‘Dodger Diamond,’ and then in the 2013 to 2014 season I was hired by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a trackman operator. The trackman is a radar scouting system. It is like a radar gun that reads the speed of pitches, but it does a lot more. The trackman reads crazy statistics like how fast a ball breaks off after the pitch and the speed of the bat. I would upload these stats and send them to the L.A. Dodgers Director of Baseball Research. They complied the information and used it for scouting.
“While working with the Lookouts, I met the broadcaster for the Barons, Curt Bloom. We would be in the announcer’s booth together when they came to town. He also began announcing for the Sanford women’s basketball team and I would see him then.
“Over the summer, Kyle Tate, the broadcaster for the Mississippi Braves, sent me a Facebook message saying the Barons had a position and to contact Curt Bloom if I was interested. I was, so I sent in my resume and portfolio. I went through several phone interviews and then went to Birmingham to interview in person. I was offered the job, Director of Media Relations, two days later.”
What do hope to accomplish with the job, and your career?
“I want to grow with the Barons, and improve myself. My goal is to eventually work with a Triple A baseball team or a Major League team.”
Is there anything that might surprise our readers?
“I like to hunt. All through high school, I was more of a preppy kid – not someone you see spending time outdoors in the woods. But, I have taken up hunting in the past few years.
“I was hunting the day I got the call offering me the job with the Barons. I was in my tree stand and heard my phone vibrate. When I saw the Birmingham number I figured I better answer and it better be good. My day of hunting was shot, but I didn’t mind.”
One last question. What’s on your iPod?
“I have a very odd selection of music on my radio pre-sets. I like country, classic rock, and hip-hop. I listen to 90’s country, Def Leopard, Led Zeppelin, and I am a big Jay-Z fan.
Tyler graduated on Saturday, December 13, from UTC with a degree in Mass Communications and a minor in Speech. His first day on the job with the Birmingham Barons was Monday, December 8. We wish him luck and are excited to follow this amazing young man’s career.