Meet Three Terp Radio Broadcasters Calling MLB Games This Season
Photos courtesy of Hicks, Maurer and Eisenberg
Terp fans tuning in to the record-breaking 38-10 Maryland baseball team’s games this season should listen carefully: In a few years, they might just recognize those same voices on the call at the major league level.
A growing number of pro baseball broadcasters got their starts on UMD’s campus. Joining longtime Texas Rangers radio play-by-play announcer Matt Hicks ’83 in big league booths this season are Josh Maurer ’03, now a member of the Milwaukee Brewers’ crew, and Jake Eisenberg ’17, who’s filling in part-time on the New York Mets’ broadcast team. They all credit the experience and connections they gained at UMD for helping them get the coveted call-up to the majors.
“It helps when you get more alumni up to that level, because it kind of creates a feeding ground for other people to be able to follow the same path,” Maurer said. “I think you’re going to see more of it.”
They each showcased their radio-ready voices as they spoke with Maryland Today about their journeys to The Show:
Hicks’ career has come a long way since he and a friend used a cassette tape recorder to call Super Bowl VI from his living room in sixth grade.
The Prince George’s County native realized then that he wanted to work in sports broadcasting, but he didn’t know the pathway to get there. He discovered it ran through a studio in the South Campus Dining Hall building. Hicks, an education major, auditioned for a sports role at the university’s radio station, WMUC, his freshman year and earned the gig, allowing him to get behind the mic for a variety of Terp teams. He made his baseball broadcasting debut when Matt Noble—then the team’s play-by-play voice and now the public address announcer for Terps football, basketball and baseball—chose him as his partner.
“I’ll never forget my first baseball broadcast, how terrible I was. I’m like, ‘Dude, you need to do a lot more work to prepare,’” Hicks said. “Matt kind of brought me along.”
He landed his first radio job after graduation as a morning news anchor at a “mom-and-pop” station in Cambridge, Md., then covered everything from Little League to college basketball before signing on with the Class-A Frederick Keys in 1989 for $50 a game, launching a more than 23-year stint calling in the minor leagues. Hicks’ thousands of games at that level made for quite the highlight reel, including a perfect game in his premiere broadcast with Frederick and a home run robbery during his time with Double-A Corpus Christi that was named a “SportsCenter” top play in 2012.
Hicks believes his call of that play—when he enthusiastically led fans through the action as the left fielder and center fielder both flopped over the fence for the ball—boosted him to the big leagues. Not even two months later, the Rangers reached out.
He’s narrated a slew of game-changing moments in his decade-plus with Texas (remember Toronto Blue Jay José Bautisa’s epic bat flip vs. the Rangers in the 2015 American League Division Series?), helping to blaze a trail for future Terps.
“It was emotional, to be sure,” Hicks said of his promotion to the majors. “Even to this day, it still feels … like you have to be at a standard of excellence on a nightly basis. So that kind of pushes me.”
While his Terp classmates donned their caps and gowns for commencement in 2003, Maurer sat in a tiny studio in Massachusetts, hosting the pre- and postgame shows for the independent league Brockton Rox baseball team.
Missing graduation was a bummer, he said, but he knew that sacrifice was a step toward his ultimate broadcasting goal. (He made it back to campus for the Philip Merrill College of Journalism ceremony the next day.) Like Hicks, Maurer knew early on that he wanted to call Major League Baseball; he used to listen to his hometown Phillies on the radio as a grade schooler when he should’ve been sleeping.
The opportunities at WMUC attracted him to Maryland, where he covered soccer, lacrosse, football, basketball and, yes, baseball.
“I wanted to get as much experience as possible, and doing it when you’re in college working for the student station is the best way,” Maurer said. “You can learn and go through the growing pains you need to go through without having the pressure of doing it for your job.”
That led him to roles covering sports—mostly basketball—for colleges like the University of Massachusetts, Charleston Southern University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, as well as stops in the minors calling games for Class-A Charleston, Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Pawtucket. After turning 40 last year, he wasn’t sure he’d ever make it to the majors. But in February, the Brewers came calling.
“It was surreal,” he said of joining the likes of broadcasting legend Bob Uecker in Milwaukee. “When the press release was going out … I kept thinking they must be talking about somebody else.”
So far, the big league hotels and travel are nice perks, Maurer said, but he knows his journey through the less-glamorous minors was worth it.
“I met so many amazing people and I got to go to so many cool places that I never would’ve visited in my life had I not been working in some of these small minor leagues,” he said. “People who work in baseball are inevitably unique and interesting creatures. … I feel like I’m fortunate to have experienced this.”
Before Eisenberg rose through the ranks to join the Mets’ radio team, he helped elevate UMD baseball coverage to a new level.
In 2015, he joined fellow Terps John Vittas ’15 and Matt Present ’16 to create Maryland Baseball Network, a multiplatform service that offers play-by-plays of each game, plus podcasts, previews, recaps and more. As a bonus, they got to cover one of UMD’s best teams in recent history during the station’s debut, with players like current MLBers Kevin Smith, Brandon Lowe and LaMonte Wade propelling Maryland to the NCAA Super Regional.
“It’s something that we’re really proud of,” said Eisenberg, who also majored in journalism. “I owe every opportunity, every step that I’ve taken to the times I had calling Maryland baseball.”
Eisenberg, who grew up riding the Long Island Railroad to Mets games, landed a job with the Brooklyn Cyclones, a Mets affiliate, after graduating. (He still has the first big hit he called as a pro, an RBI double by minor leaguer Carlos Sanchez, saved on his computer.)
After stops with other minor league teams—including the Class-A Winston-Salem Dash and Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels—and colleges like Wake Forest and Davidson, he’s been with the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers since 2020.
Calling games for that team, whose roster includes former Terp Jose Cuas, is still Eisenberg’s main role. But he jumped at the chance to pinch-hit for 20 to 30 games for Mets broadcaster Howie Rose, who had surgery at the end of last season. Now he’s relishing the job with his favorite team from childhood.
“To be sitting on the receiving end of a phone call like that (to call Mets’ games) now was something that even just a week or so prior had been unfathomable,” Eisenberg said. “To be trusted with this opportunity is something that I don’t take lightly.”
Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.
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