24 May Voice of the Miners Ready to Go
Voice of the Miners Always Ready to Go
It’s hard to tell what Bret Leuthner loves more – the game of baseball or the art of broadcasting.
Fortunately, he doesn’t have to choose.
A dream job? You’d better believe it.
He’s the voice of the Sussex County Miners, and he’s as enthusiastic as ever as he prepares to call the first pitch in the season opener at Skylands Stadium on Thursday night.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “To say that I love this job would be a wild, wild understatement. I started here in 2016, and I’m more excited about this year than ever before.
“It’s a new, bigger, better league and I’ve seen behind the scenes how hard (manager) Bobby Jones has worked to put together a team that has the potential to be just awesome. I know this is going to be a lot of fun this year.”
Leuthner will be in the broadcast booth for all 96 Miners games this season, both home and away, streaming live and in color at www.frontierleaguetv.com.
When it comes to baseball, he commands all the latest technology at his fingertips. But, he still keeps an old-fashioned scorecard with old-fashioned ink on old-fashioned paper.
As for broadcasting, he began calling hockey games in his basement as a little kid growing up in Paramus. He’d call games as he walked home from the school bus. He’d call games night and day.
Since then, Leuthner has been behind the microphone from Vermont to Texas and everywhere in between, calling pro, semi-pro, college and amateur sports. He can also be heard calling live high school games of every sort on morrissussexsports.com.
Along the way, he beat cancer not once, but twice, now cancer-free for the past nine years.
“You try to stay positive, but there were some dark nights at Memorial Sloan Kettering,” he said. “It helped to know that I had to get out of there and return to broadcasting.”
There’s only one topic bigger than baseball or broadcasting for the 47-year-old who’s never at a loss for words. That’s his family. That’s the one topic that makes this tough guy giggle.
His wife, Adina, is a Bergen County girl who’s been at his side through thick and thin, and their nine-year-old twins, Trevor and Serena, already know their way around the ballpark. And then there’s 15-month-old daughter Rylee, who’s clearly got her dad happily wrapped around her little finger.
Just after they were married, Leuthner and his wife were living in Saddle Brook when they inadvertently stumbled upon a real estate channel on television and learned about a place in Sussex County called
“We got off the couch knowing we wanted to move there,” he said.
And, in no time, the newlyweds from the state’s most congested county were suddenly homeowners in what Leuthner still describes as “the most beautiful and peaceful place we could imagine.”
Of course, Leuthner is away from home quite a bit with his work, including road trips with the Miners – good opportunities to get to know the players on a personal basis.
This year, however, because the northern border is still closed due to Covid, the team won’t be traveling to Canada, as usual, denying him the chance to put his own personal and dramatic spin on pronouncing “Trois-Rivieres.”
When the Miners are at home, the play-by-play man gets to the stadium about three hours before game time to prepare. For dinner, it’s hot dogs one night, cheeseburgers another night, sausage the next night.
“People ask me how I’m not sick of hot dogs at this point, but I don’t understand that,” he said. “How could you ever get sick of hot dogs?”
Leuthner predicts that Miners fans will see more and more hungry, young players in both the home and visiting dugouts this year, after Major League Baseball revamped the entire minor-league system, eliminating some rookie leagues while embracing the Frontier League and other independent circuits as “partner leagues.”
He also predicts a big season in the won-lost column.
“Bobby is so competitive it’s unbelievable,” Leuthner said. “I don’t care if he’s losing 10-0 in the ninth inning, he’s still trying to win.
“He’s put this team together to be good both offensively and defensively, that has the pitching and does all the little things that make you a winner and make baseball such a great game.”
Busy year round with one assignment or another, Leuthner gets the chance with the Miners to settle in for a while and make that broadcast booth at Skylands Stadium into his second home for the summer.
“You can tell by listening to him for even a few minutes that he’s on top of everything going on,” said Miners general manager Justin Ferrarella. “He’s got all the stats, he knows all the facts, but, even more importantly, you can tell right away that he’s a fan, too, that he loves baseball just like all the rest of us.”
By Carl Barbati, former sports editor of the New Jersey Herald, Daily Record and The Trentonian.