FAYETTEVILLE — C.F. McDowell’s journey as a public address announcer began 29 years ago.
“In 1990, when I was a pastor in Columbus County, in Chadbourn, one of my church members who was a football coach at Cerro Gordo Middle School, he asked me if I could be the PA announcer for their middle school team, and that got me started 29 years ago,” the Laurinburg resident and Greensboro native said.
McDowell expanded his resume from there, announcing games at the Little League, middle school, high school and college levels in Laurinburg. When he heard that Fayetteville would host the Advanced-A minor league affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros starting this year, McDowell saw yet another opportunity to showcase his public speaking skills. He called on a friend who was able to connect him with David Lane, the team’s general manager. Before long, McDowell was named one of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers’ two announcers.
“It’s been a pretty cool path through these 29 years to get me to this point,” McDowell said prior to a game on Thursday night.
McDowell’s voice can now be heard around Segra Stadium during several games each week throughout the season. He reads lineups, promotions and other announcements from the press box at the brand-new, $37.8 million facility.
McDowell wouldn’t have it any other way.
“With my love of public speaking and my passion for sports, this is the best way for me to bring those two together,” McDowell said. “I love to speak, whether I’m in a pulpit on Sunday mornings, or on the radio with the station I work with in Rockingham.
The Woodpeckers’ gig is one of McDowell’s three jobs. He is the guest minister at First Baptist Church in Rockingham, and he also sells advertisements and records commercials on the radio at WJSG 104.3 in Rockingham.
When it comes to baseball, preparation is key for McDowell. If the Woodpeckers have a 7 p.m. home game, McDowell arrives at 5:30 p.m. and begins reading over everything he’ll announce throughout the night. Part of that process includes reading a pronunciation guide to perfect all of the names on both teams’ rosters. That’s not always easy. There are frequent promotions and transfers in Minor League Baseball, so McDowell constantly sees new faces on the field.
“That does create a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge,” McDowell said.
McDowell is fueled by a passion that developed when he was a teenager.
McDowell’s father helped him develop an appreciation for sports as a child. He discovered his love for public speaking in high school despite a “tremendous amount” of shyness.
“I still deal with that shyness, whether I’m behind this microphone or behind the pulpit,” McDowell said.
Around the time his passion for public speaking grew, McDowell also realized his calling.
“At the same time I was feeling called to be a minister. God was calling me in that way, and I knew that I was going to have to be prepared to speak,” McDowell said.
McDowell honed his public speaking prowess over the years. His voice is now heard by thousands of baseball fans every week.
Although having three jobs can be hectic at times, the Wingate and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate enjoys being able to do what he loves in several different ways.
“I love all three of the jobs. They work well together,” McDowell said.