ENID, Okla. —
Stetson Buller’s freshman year at Northern Oklahoma College Enid isn’t what he anticipated.
Thanks to some ligament damage in his elbow, Buller’s contributions have come more from his deep voice than pitching arm. The ex-Timberlake pitcher has been serving as the public address announcer for the Jets since his injury,
“It’s been pretty good,’’ he said before a game with NOC Tonkawa Friday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark. “It keeps me busy for sure.’’
He wasn’t sure at first he wanted to do it when asked by Jets coach Raydon Leaton. Buller admitted he “wasn’t very good’’ in the speech classes he’s taken.
“I was nervous the first time out, but it’s worked out better than I thought,’’ Buller said. “You feel a little more part of the game. You have to know what’s going on on every play. It definitely gets me in the game more.’’
Buller approaches each game as he would if he was starting on the mound. He warms up his voice pronouncing the Jets’ lineup for the day.
“I just decided to make my voice deeper and see what it would do,’’ he said. “I’ve got my own little style. It hasn’t sounded too bad. I decided to keep trying it.’’
The biggest challenge is pronouncing some opponents’ names. With players coming from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, that can be a difficult for a boy from Helena.
“Doing our names is a lot easier than theirs,’’ he said with a laugh. “I still have mess-ups. I still have to get better. If I mess up, the guys let me know about it.’’
The reviews, though, have been good.
“I did this last year some and he does it better than I did,’’ said NOC Enid sophomore pitcher Zach Postoak.
“I think Zach pronounced the names better,’’ Buller said. “I may have a deeper voice. That’s the only thing going for me.’’
He said announcing could be a future option.
“You never know,’’ he said. “If it makes money and helps feed a family, yeah that could be an option.’’
Pitching still is his first option. He had an 8.40 ERA in 15 innings before the injury. He had 13 strikeouts and 15 walks.
“I rather be playing than doing this,’’ Buller said. “I’m going to let it heal up and get back as soon as I can.’’
He didn’t require Tommy John surgery for the elbow, but he couldn’t pitch. Rest was prescribed.
“I really don’t understand the process,’’ Buller said. “The worst thing is just not being able to help the team out in any way. It’s killing me. I want to help the team so bad ... maybe next year.’’
This is the first time he’s had a prolonged injury.
“It’s a little different,’’ Buller said, “but I’m adjusting real fast in my comeback. I’ll keep resting until it stops hurting. Then I’ll do my throwing program. It will be all right.’’
His baseball education has continued in another way. Buller has umpired several high school games, including a game between Pioneer and Garber.
“As a baseball player, you don’t have to know everything like you do as an umpire,’’ Buller said. “You think you know a lot, but you don’t know near as much as you think you do.’’
He has read the rule book from cover to cover. He said he still doesn’t know all the rules, “but I’m getting better with it.’’
Buller could be heard in the press box questioning some umpire’s calls.
“I still get on them some,’’ Buller said, “but I have a lot more respect for them after being one. Everybody misses calls. I have already missed some. You see different things as an umpire as you do as a player or a fan.’’
Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.