His part-time jobs are full-time passions Dan Baker, public address announcer for the Phillies and Eagles, lives his lifelong dream, calling the action for 32 years.

Posted: June 01, 2003

West Deptford resident Dan Baker could probably retire now if he had a nickel for every time somebody told him they would love to have his part-time jobs. Then again, with these jobs, why would Baker or anybody else want to retire?

Baker has the best seat in the house for every home Phillies and Eagles game. He has been the Phillies' public-address announcer since 1972. In 1985, he assumed the same position with the Eagles.

In his full-time job, Baker serves as coordinator of broadcast relations for Drexel University. He negotiates the radio contracts and does the play-by-play for Drexel's men's basketball team and is the pregame host for the men's and women's basketball shows.

Yet it is with the Phillies that most fans identify Baker. Now in his 32d year, Baker has missed just 18 games.

The 56-year-old Baker has come a long way since graduating from Audubon High School in 1964 and Glassboro State (now Rowan University) in 1968. He's doing what so few get the chance to accomplish, living a lifelong dream.

"I always wanted to get into sportscasting," Baker said. "A kid who wants to be an auto mechanic will hang around a gas station and like that, I used to pay my way to see the Philadelphia Warriors, Eagles and Phillies game when I was young."

Baker absorbed all he could about sports and his is one of those success stories about someone who literally started in the mail room and dutifully worked his way up.

Baker's first job in the broadcasting industry came when he worked the mail room at the old Channel 48 in Philadelphia during the late '60s.

While there, he met Stu Nahan, formerly known as Captain Philadelphia, who became a sports broadcaster in Philadelphia before heading to Los Angeles, where he has been a broadcaster and played bit roles in movies.

Baker kept statistics for Nahan. That led to doing statistics for others, and meeting people in the broadcasting business along the way. The contacts became invaluable.

One of those contacts was Buddy Wagner, who worked at Channel 48 and was the ring announcer for the station's professional wrestling program. Baker became Wagner's backup. In addition, Wagner owned an auto daredevil show that traveled around the country during the summer. He hired Baker to be the announcer at the shows.

After the 1971 baseball season, Baker interviewed with Bill Giles for the Phillies' public-address announcer job.

"I think in the course of the interview, the auto daredevil background was helpful because Bill was a great promoter," Baker said.

At the time, Baker was also doing a few other jobs, teaching full-time in the Philadelphia school system, doing part-time announcing for an Atlantic City radio station and keeping statistics for visiting announcers at Eagles games.

He got the public-address job with the Phillies and hasn't looked back.

Baker was born in South Philadelphia, but moved with his family to Mount Ephraim at the age of 8. Since then he has been a fixture in the South Jersey community. He has lived in West Deptford since 1981.

Baker has never forgotten his roots. Joe Hartmann, head of the Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic, asked Baker to serve as public-address announcer for the high school tournament's 30th annual championship game on May 19.

Baker accepted and was behind the microphone when Sterling beat Cherry Hill West, 16-9, in the championship game at Campbell's Field, home of the Camden Riversharks.

"Dan has always shown such an enthusiasm for the South Jersey area," Hartmann said. "Having him there added to what was a special event."

Whether he is doing the Diamond Classic, the Phillies, Eagles, or any other public address announcing assignment, Baker's passion for his work is clearly evident.

"I hope one thing I am able to communicate to the fans is that I really love what I'm doing and am so happy to be there," he said. "I have no less enthusiasm today than the day I started."

Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarducci@phillynews.com.

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