Many fans dream of having their voices echo around historic Wrigley Field while reading the names of Cy Young Award winners, MVPs and future Hall of Famers.
One lifelong Cubs fan is getting a chance to do just that.
There’s a booming new voice in Wrigleyville, and it belongs to 21-year-old Jeremiah Paprocki. The Cubs hired Paprocki to be their new public-address announcer, making him the first African American in team history to hold the position. He also is thought to be the youngest P.A. announcer in Major League Baseball.
‘‘Who’s ever heard of a 21-year-old P.A. announcer?’’ Paprocki told the Sun-Times on Monday. ‘‘That truly means the world that the Chicago Cubs — my hometown team, the team that I love — are taking a chance on me. To be able to sit in that chair behind the microphone at Wrigley Field, of all places, it’s truly an honor.’’
Paprocki’s journey started as a young sports fan with his eye on a playing career. But one day at the United Center, as he listened to the voice of legendary Bulls announcer Tommy Edwards read the starting lineups, he realized he wanted to pursue broadcasting and, ultimately, P.A. announcing.
That started what has been a meteoric rise as a P.A. announcer after graduating from CICS Northtown Academy on the North Side. Paprocki since has made his mark at UIC, where he is one of the voices of the Flames and a first-semester senior.
But still being in school didn’t stop Paprocki from reaching the seat he always has wanted. He made his Wrigley Field debut Monday before a ‘‘sellout’’ of 11,144 fans, the largest crowd of his young career.
‘‘It’s a long time coming for me, even though I’m 21,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s the opportunity that I’ve been waiting for that we finally reached. We’ve just gotta keep showing them why I deserve to be behind that microphone.’’
‘‘We are excited to see how fans respond to Jeremiah, as we feel his authentic, friendly voice perfectly suits the environment we aim to create at Wrigley Field,’’ Cubs vice president of marketing Lauren Fritts said. ‘‘We know Cubs fans value tradition, and with Jeremiah, we are thrilled to find a longtime fan and a young professional who will thrive in this important role.’’
Paprocki’s Cubs roots come from his mom, Barbara, whom he says gets the credit for his love of baseball. She was even a Cubs parking attendant in the 1990s. Obviously, the news of her son’s new gig was well-received.
‘‘Man, she cried when she heard the news,’’ Paprocki said. ‘‘When the Cubs offered me the P.A. job, they were talking to me, and I could hear her crying in the other room. It definitely means a lot for her to have been in that Cubs environment, and now her son is the voice of Wrigley Field.’’
Such opportunities don’t come around often for young broadcasters, especially young Black broadcasters. While Paprocki always wants his work to speak for itself, he knows what his opportunity means for those who will come after him.
‘‘Being the first African American P.A. announcer in Cubs history, it definitely means a lot,’’ he said. ‘‘I hope that it inspires other African American boys and girls out there that are interested in broadcasting that opportunities are available to you if you keep going and to never stop and to never let anything discourage you from pursuing opportunities.’’