Every day at NSPT, we welcome families into our clinics. Each child is so incredibly unique with their treatment, their diagnosis, the challenges they may face, the strengths that they have, etc. We are often told by parents that their biggest question is “what’s next for their child?” “Will they succeed in life?” At NSPT, our mission is to help each and every kiddo reach their maximum potential…whatever that may be.
Jason Benetti, the newest addition to the broadcasting team for the Chicago White Sox, is living his own childhood dream. At a young age, Jason was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Like our families, there was a point in time where maybe his family had the same questions about “what’s next?” He recalls at a young age going through a few surgeries and spending time at the Rehab Institute of Chicago. “Everyone there was just wonderful,” said Benetti. A typical week at a young age included Physical and Occupational Therapy and focusing on building range of motion.
Benetti grew up on the Southside in Homewood and is a graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Initially, he was a member of the band playing tuba. “That probably wasn’t the best thing for me to be doing,” joked Benetti. It was at that time the band director asked him if he would be interested in sitting in the press box during games and calling out the next set as the band was performing. This was the beginning of a growing passion for broadcasting. Homewood-Flossmoor was one of few high schools that had their own radio station, so Benetti was able to further pursue and develop his skills.
Upon graduation, Jason attended Syracuse University to pursue a career in broadcasting. While there, he was able to continue to build his skills as the Triple A announcer for the Toronto Blue Jays. But nothing fits quite like being able to land your dream job with your favorite team growing up. We were able to sit down with Jason and ask him about what it’s like to be a broadcaster for his hometown team, the Chicago White Sox.
Were there any broadcasters you wanted to be like growing up?
Benetti: There were a lot of people, Hawk Harrelson was the guy I would mimic with catchphrases walking around saying, and “You can put it on the board, YES!” But I’m not particularly a catch phrase guy myself. So Hawk was the guy. He has been so encouraging of me doing half of the games with Steve Stone, just genuine and kind.
When you first expressed interest, what did people around you say? Was there adversity or support?
Benetti: As a radio guy, no one cared what I looked like. Viv Bernstein did a story in early 2010 and asked me if there was a ceiling with regards to TV. It took time for people to warm up to the fact that I can’t look into the camera or have a commanding strut walking into a room, so perceptively there was an adjustment period for people. I quickly found great allies with Time Warner in Syracuse and ESPN. Once they got to know me, they were supportive. It just takes one person.
If you could call a game for any baseball player, who would it be? Retired or current.
Benetti: Growing up Robin Ventura was my favorite player, so in a way, I now get to call games for him.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
Benetti: I’m looking forward to the development of the rapport between myself and Steve Stone. We have only had one game so far, but I felt comfortable after and am excited to have the partnership develop. Steve has such a wealth of knowledge. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
What was it like sitting in the booth at US Cellular Field for the first time?
Benetti: It was just like another game, but with way more people interested. I’ve done so many baseball games and baseball is baseball. There weren’t really nerves, just a new experience.
What is it like working alongside hall of fame broadcaster Steve Stone?
Benetti: Anyone who is creative grows up wanting to be around other people like that. Steve Stone and crew fulfills that 100 percent. To be in a room with everyone wanting to do great work, to work with someone who expands like Steve, is everything anyone could want in a partner doing games.
Do you ever meet with or talk to young athletes? Or young individuals with CP or other disabilities? What is the one thing you tell them?
Benetti: I would tell them if you think people perceive you a certain way, you are not crazy and they might be, but do everything you can to disregard that and get past it, it could be damaging to the relationship. It is happening, but trust yourself to get past it.
And one final question…you heard it here first…Prediction…will it be a Cubs vs. White Sox World Series?
Benetti: I’m going to say yeah, it would be great fun. The Billy Goat couldn’t be blamed. Someone would have huge bragging rights for a long time.
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!