Casey at the mic

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Casey Motter adds inflection to his voice as he announces the names of Atlanta Braves players to generate excitement for the home team fans at Turner Field.

BY MEGAN ALMON megan@newnan.com Magic. It's really the only word that can describe the sensation that passes through Turner Field at the start of a game -- a current that flows through the stadium seats, across the expanse of grass and dirt, tingling the spines of every person present and electrifying the evening air.
Its origin is a man with a microphone -- a voice, to be more specific. A commanding, guttural, "Hello, baseball fans..." escapes the mouth of Atlanta Braves Stadium announcer Casey Motter, a Sharpsburg man who has found himself living the stuff of dreams. Maybe that's what makes the father of four's voice so energizing. As the man who creates enthusiasm through the course of a Braves home game, announcing the lineups, keeping fans informed of who's up to bat, Motter has a hard time believing he was simply at the right place at the right time. Just more than a year ago, he was hauling Yamaha speakers and a karaoke microphone from his car to the fields at his sons' Peachtree City Packers football games each Saturday. Over the course of eight years -- his sons range from 16 to 6 years old -- it had become something of a Saturday ritual, something he still does when he can. "The kids' faces would light up when you announced them," he said. "It sounded like the real thing." When Braves Assistant General Manager Frank Wren attended his own sons' game at the fields, he pulled out his camcorder and recorded Motter's announcing. Wren played the tape for the execs at Braves Vision. Next thing Motter knew, he was on his way to audition for the stadium announcer spot alongside 12 others. Motter was the only one whose professional experience halted at the speech class he took at Smyrna's Campbell High School. Regardless, the job was his. Looking back, Motter's positive he'd been working toward a goal like that all along, devoting time and energy to something that was worthwhile to him. Nowadays, Motter takes his hectic schedule one day at a time. A termite inspection specialist with Arrow Exterminators in Newnan by day, Motter still gets giddy when he shifts gears mid-afternoon during his drive to Turner Field on a game day. He typically arrives at the stadium around 3:30 p.m. for a production meeting with Braves Vision employees -- all of whom collaborate to make the games at Turner Field top-notch in the arena of professional sports around the nation. It's all in the details. Motter receives starting line-ups, rosters, player "bios" and his own script for the game. A perfectionist, he studies the material thoroughly, jotting various notes and reminders on his handouts. Motter writes out the pronunciations for players' names, even asking visiting broadcasters from the opposing team to check them. Not wanting to stumble over the numbers on his notes -- he already has to say things like "Batting first, number 24..." -- he scratches out the traditional numbers assigned to each player's field position and replaces them with abbreviations he won't mistake -- "CF" for center field, normally noted as position number 8, for example. For a 7 p.m. game, Motter takes the mic at 6:10 p.m. for the first time to clear the dugouts. He kills another 45 minutes -- sometimes making himself a dinner plate in the nearby media lounge -- before delivering the starting lineups. From that point, it's a game of wait and go throughout the next nine -- and sometimes more -- innings as Motter takes cues from Braves Vision Production Manager Matt Montemayor. Motter sits in a room overlooking home plate and the first base line that resembles a NASA control room. Part of the Braves Vision "Game Show" team, he's one of more than a dozen people with specific jobs that coordinate to make the fans' experience spectacular. Motter's seat is the simplest in the room. He sits at a large sliding-glass window -- arguably the best seat in the house -- with a baseball-sized microphone controlled by a single on/off button. Everyone else sits at computer monitors ranging in size, keyboards and switchboards. The entire effect is somewhat overwhelming -- blinking lights on the switchboards, flashing videos, wall-sized screens with dozens of different images displayed simultaneously, the drone of game stats and weather reports played over an intercom, the back-and-forth of commands from controllers wearing headsets, all mixed with the sounds from the stadium carried through an open section of window. Motter speaks through the pandemonium, his booming voice drowning it out. He pumps his fist from time to time to add inflection to his words, sometimes standing -- "It's easier to speak that way" -- for emphasis. He announces the names of Braves players with added effect, only straying from the lineup or script to announce pitching or batting changes. "I still get nervous," he said. "Especially during the pre-game," during which he speaks the most. "It's still a big deal, being here," he said. "You only get one chance to say something. You can't hit a retry button and start over." Motter keeps his nerves in check -- and ignores the occasional jabs from colleagues -- by following his script and line-ups with his finger. As he calls a batter's name, he fills in a box next to the player's name so he won't announce it twice. His little system helps him follow the game and serves as an accountability measure for others around him. When Motter was hired by the Braves, juggling two jobs and a large family became an effort in creativity. For the duration of the Braves season -- roughly March until October -- Motter is in Atlanta for an average of 85 games. Motter is grateful for the support he's received from his family -- his wife, Katrina, and four sons, Judd, 16, Justin, 15, Riley, 10, and Mason, 6. It never ceases to surprise Motter when his story -- which he shares with others regularly -- has an impact on someone else. The realization has sparked a new venture. "I wanted to find an equation" for turning dreams into reality, Motter said. Motter has been privileged to use his success as a platform. He addresses groups and individuals with a simple message. In a world where people get caught up searching for financial gain, so many never find the true enjoyment of putting their "God-given gifts" to use. When individuals "make the time" to exercise their talents, their work becomes passion-driven, and the natural outcome is success. Motter's gift is his voice. He spent eight years working at it when a great opportunity was presented to him. He hopes this opportunity will open other doors as well. His inspiring story hit closer to home than he planned when Katrina -- whose gift also happens to be her voice, but in a musical sense -- pursued her own aspirations to become a country music singer and is already recording songs alongside major songwriters. The mother of four/voice teacher/elementary school teaching assistant has -- like her husband -- made a point of finding time to pursue her passion. It seems Motter's voice -- "'The Voice' of the Atlanta Braves" -- is being heard even beyond a stadium of 50,000 fans.

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