YES manufacturer Troy Benjamin spends every night telling the story of Yankees games, but his tale is pretty good. He grew up in Harlem and the Bronx, listening to WFAN, dreaming of working in sports.

“I wanted to be black Chris Russosaid Benjamin, 49. “That was the dream.”

That changed around 2000 when Benjamin found out what his good friend and MSG Network teammate at the time, Bill Bolandmade as associate director.

“I said, ‘How much do you get paid?'” Benjamin said. He said, ‘$67 an hour.’ I said: ‘What? I want to be an AD.’ I just wanted to go that route.

“I was a security guard at night, making $10 an hour [he also had an MSG gig as a game highlight logger]. I see $67 an hour, and I said, ‘No, I want to get into it.’ I saw that money hanging. You know, you’re a black kid from Harlem, I thought $20 an hour was a lot of money. I had the bug ever since.”

New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge #99 hits a single against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 15, 2022.
When you’re watching the works of Aaron Judge on the YES Network, Troy Benjamin is the producer who puts the broadcasts together.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

For the past two decades, Benjamin has been at YES, working his way up, being noticed, and learning from the network’s president of production and programming, John FilippelliBenjamin’s predecessors in the Yankees producer’s chair, Kevin Smolen and Boland, as well as great directors such as John Moore.

Before last season, Benjamin replaced Boland, his good friend and a mentor, which made him bitter. Benjamin hopes to have a run as long if not longer than that of Smolen and Boland, who each held the prestigious gig for about a decade. Benjamin was up for the task.

If you watch Yankees games, the production doesn’t overwhelm the broadcast, but instead follows and complements it. One aspect that stands out is how Benjamin, the director And Barrassociate director Luke Miller and graphics coordinator Sean Sullivan are able to display incredible old once video and graphics Michael Kay and Co. mention something from the history of the history of the franchise. Benjamin has a feel for the game, which may be the most important trait for a game producer.

“He knows things you can’t teach,” Filippelli said. “That’s why he’s a great producer. Those are the things we’ve seen in him for a long time.”

Michael Kay stands in the broadcast booth at Yankee Stadium.
Benjamin credits the support of longtime Yankees voice Michael Kay.

There aren’t many black producers working in sports media There’s no official record, but to Benjamin’s knowledge, he’s the only one currently making MLB games.

“There’s not a lot of black producers in a lot of sports, but definitely not baseball,” Benjamin said. “There is a lot of pride. Hopefully it will inspire TV executives to hire more people who look like me.”

Filippelli’s career has been an inspiration to Benjamin. Filippelli has taught Benjamin how to prepare and how to make the game about what’s going on, not the pre-planned package.

“You learn from a guy like Flip, a guy who has a resume that we all want to have — World Series, Game of the Week on Saturday — he’s big on [making sure you focus on the game,]Benjamin said.

Benjamin mentioned that he was accepted by people like Marv Albert AND Ian Eagleas well as Kay, as special to him in his career, but the backbone of his success comes from his work ethic, taught by his mother.

YES Network producer Troy Benjamin as a child (center) with his mother, Naomi Carr, and his brother, Eugene Gibbs Jr.
Benjamin grew up with his brother, Eugene Gibbs Jr., and his mother, Naomi Carr, whom he credits for inspiring him with her work ethic.
courtesy of Troy Benjamin
YES Network producer Troy Benjamin (right) with his mother, Naomi Carr, and his brother, Eugene Gibbs Jr.
Benjamin (right) with his mother and brother
courtesy of Troy Benjamin

Benjamin’s father was not in the picture. his mother, Naomi Carran immigrant from Antigua, worked two or three jobs at the same time, mostly as a nurse’s aide in hospitals and aged care.

“She put me in Catholic school [Cardinal Spellman in The Bronx]”, said Benjamin, who has a brother in the army. “She made sure I paid for college [at West Virginia]. I saw her work ethic. West Indian parents, they work hard. I know it’s kind of cliché, two, three jobs, but she did it.”

Now Benjamin has one of the most coveted jobs in sports production.

“I want to do this for the rest of my life,” Benjamin said. “This is the dream. I just want to master this and be great at it.”

Quick clicks

NBC Sports commentator Jac Collinsworth poses for a photo before the 2022 Hall of Fame Pro Game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Las Vegas Raiders.
Jac Collinsworth’s last name helped land him the job as the new play-by-play voice of Notre Dame football on NBC.
Getty Images

In Fox Sports’ press release announcing the new Big Ten deal, the network said it will now hit the road with the “Big Noon Kickoff” every week beginning this fall. In other words, the competition with ESPN’s iconic “College GameDay” is on — and taking it to the next level. You have to wonder in 2024 — when ESPN’s SEC deal and the Big Ten’s contracts with Fox, CBS and NBC go into full effect — how long “GameDay” will be spent at Big Ten schools. Fox will have no qualms making its show lead in its best game, which for many weeks will be the No. 1 competition. 1 Big Ten of the week. Will “GameDay” go to the Big Ten’s place when it owns the SEC? Maybe as a one-off to say it’s a journalistic effort, but is it in the best interest of her business? However, new generations grow up with new traditions. GameDay will be GameDay, but Big Noon Kickoff, which has already made some inroads, may be able to grab a bigger piece of the pie. … On Friday, Fox Sports had an old-school “Friday News Repository,” announcing that Urban Meyer it’s back to Big Noon. Meyer, who controversially flopped in the NFL, was good on the air in his first time with Fox. … NBC will need announcers for its new primetime Big Ten games. If Fox hadn’t already signed on Jason Bennett, NBC would have gone after him for the Big Ten. She has loved Bennett on her Sunday morning MLB broadcasts on the Peacock. It’s still a problem that ESPN didn’t continue to promote Bennett and let him walk out the door. … This brings us to the NBC promotion Jac Collinsworth to the Notre Dame player. Growing up as the son or daughter of a big-name broadcaster has its perks – some seen, some not. A positive is a child of a broadcaster, as it was with Jac CRISIS, gets to see how the parent worked in the trade and develops a better understanding of what goes into the job than someone whose parent sold insurance. It can also help you get in the door. But that’s the line I always use for someone like Joe Buck, who is having a legendary career. His father, Jack, was a Hall of Fame broadcaster. That gets you an internship, not the opportunity to call the World Series for nearly a quarter century. Jac, now 27 and the television voice of Notre Dame football, should be good. We’ve seen it when it’s worked, like with Buck and You have Albert, but not always. Is Jac ready for the big country? It’s not a sure thing, from what I’ve heard. The flip side of having your career driven by family name and connections is this: You better be good when you’re young. Growing up in a broadcasting family can be a springboard for your career or it can sink it. …

Dawn Staley, Sarah Kustok and Michael Grady pose for a photo before the WNBA Commissioner's Cup game on July 26, 2022.
Michael Grady (right, with Dawn Staley, left, and Sarah Kustok) was hired as a rookie for the Minnesota Timberwolves after working in the YES network pipeline.
NBAE via Getty Images

Michael Grady is moving from sideline reporter on YES’ Nets broadcasts to be the television voice of the Minnesota Timberwolves. This continues YES’ absolutely amazing run in populating the NBA with the best players and analysts. Grady was the No. 3 player on YES, behind perhaps the best active play caller in basketball Ian Eagle and another senior national boy, Ryan Ruocco. Yes there are Sarah Kustok AND Richard Jefferson as game analysts. Kustok has done national things and Jefferson has had an impact on ESPN. In the studio, Frank Isola is a national voice with his work at ESPN and his SiriusXM NBA show with Brian Scalabrine. Analysts that PO has made nationally worthy include Mark Jackson, who failed at – failed from? – ESPN, went to YES and then returned to ESPN to become a mainstay on the NBA Finals broadcast team. Greg Anthony made his mark at YES before becoming a lead game analyst at the Final Four. Other ex-PO items include Michelle Beadle, Donny Marshall AND Jim Spanarkle. Now Grady has earned his promotion. So why has PO been so successful in transmitter development? It starts with good hiring, which starts with Filippelli, president of production and programming. Then it goes into development, where there is also the great reputation of the net manufacturer Frank DiGraci it is important. Grady has earned this new position by calling Liberty games during the NBA offseason and then stepping off the court to replace Eagle and Ruocco. They both set a high bar, but when you listened to Grady, you could hear an NBA-level game. … Big week and big spend for CBS. Not only did the network pick up the Big Ten for about $350 million a year to follow the SEC’s 3:30 p.m. Saturday window, but they retained the rights to the Champions League, the biggest club soccer tournament in the world, by increased their spending from about $100 million a year to $250 million per year. Amazon came in second for the Champions League. UEFA still plans to sell the Spanish language rights to the event.

Who is the best player/analyst ever?

Charles Barkley smokes a cigar during the pro-am round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf Tournament in Bedminster, N.J., Thursday, July 28, 2022.
Charles Barkley is unmatched in his combination of playing and broadcasting success.

In light of recent news Charles Barkley throwing down LIV Golf, I was thinking who is the best combination of an analyst and player of all time. It may be expanded to a full section in the future. This is the unofficial list I came up with:

1. Barkley
2. Michael Strahan
3. Terry Bradshaw
4. Frank Gifford
5. Troy Aikman
6. John McEnroe
7. Team McCarver
8. Johnny Miller
9. Doug Collins
10. Chris Evert

Others that may be considered: Merlin Olsen, Phil Simms, Bill Walton, Shaquille O’Neal, John Smoltz AND Howie Long. If the coaches were counted, John Madden would get involved but lose to Barkley. Barkley is the most entertaining sports studio analyst ever and was named to the NBA’s list of the 75 greatest players of all time.

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