Anyone attending a Weatherford Kangaroos baseball game for the past 20 years can envision the familiar cadence of Clif Tramel announcing the names of players.
“Now batting for Weatherford is DAYTON Tockey,” Tramel said on a recent evening from the announcer’s booth behind home plate at Kangaroo Field.
Tramel’s signature style is to emphasize a player’s first name for effect. What people don’t know is that after most introductions, Tramel says something encouraging off-microphone, such as, “Let’s go, Dayton.”
Tramel is a fan above all else, which is why he volunteered to broadcast the games so many years ago. He taught English at the high school and enjoyed watching his students play baseball. Since he was at the games anyway, he figured he might as well make himself useful.
“It was a great way to watch the games,” he said. “You live or die with the kids. I hated to see them lose because I know how much time and effort they put into it.”
Most games ended with wins.
“Weatherford’s baseball program is outstanding,” he said. “Prior to last year, there had only been two years when Weatherford was not in the playoffs. I got to see a lot of winning games. Baseball is such a wonderful sport. It requires thought. It’s not all about the physicality. It was just great to see the kids play.”
Tramel taught school for 24 years, including 19 at Weatherford High. He retired in 2020 and had planned to step down from broadcasting games, but COVID-19 changed things.
“I was disappointed that COVID cut short the baseball season, so I said I would come back one more time,” he said.
After this season, he will hand over the reins to his two booth mates — Parker County District Attorney Jeff Swain and his wife, Julie. Jeff works the scoreboard and keeps track of pitches, and Julie plays the recorded music that batters select for their plate appearances and makes those funny drops — sound effects such as glass shattering when somebody sends a foul ball toward the parking lot.
Most likely, Jeff Swain will add broadcasting to his scoreboard duties starting in 2022. Swain knows he has large shoes to fill. He calls Tramel an “institution.”
“He is the institutional memory of the baseball program around here,” Swain said. “We’ll be talking in here, and Clif will say, ‘That reminds me of a game back in 2003,’ or something like that. And all of sudden he goes down this path of Memory Lane. It’s really neat because all those names on the back of the dugout, Clif has a memory of when they were here doing the things that ended up having them in the team record book.”
The Swains have institutional knowledge of their own. They began volunteering alongside Tramel when their boys were attending the high school and playing baseball from 2010 to 2018.
“It’s our way of giving back to a program that has really done a lot for us,” Swain said. “It’s a family.”
Swain hasn’t developed an announcing style yet but is ready to start.
“I love Chuck Morgan, the Texas Rangers’ announcer,” he said, “so I’m probably a poor man’s Chuck Morgan.”
If he had his choice, though, he’d rather have that other guy stick around.
“I will really miss having Clif in here to talk baseball with,” Swain said.
In July, Tramel grew tired of retirement and began working part-time at Split Rail Links & Golf Course, where he is a member. He plans to spend more time there as well as doing woodworking projects at his home.
“As long as I am physically able, I’m going to keep working,” he said. “I don’t have the type of personality to take up the rocking chair.”