You can imagine a security guard making the rounds of an otherwise empty La Salle University administration building, getting to the fifth floor, hearing this man yelling “POW” and otherwise talking to himself about random events behind a closed door. Have to check that out.
Kale Beers had taken care of that. There was a sign taped to his door …
REMOTE BROADCAST IN PROGRESS … PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB
By remote, Beers means exactly that. This night, as La Salle’s men’s basketball team was three hours away playing a game at George Mason, Beers was behind this door, doing play-by-play that would be sent out to Explorers fans on a streaming app. Analyst Richard Prendergast gave his thoughts from his home down in Stone Harbor.
The technology required is impressive. Beers, La Salle’s play-by-play voice for 25 years, had one laptop showing stats and another showing the game live on ESPN+. An iPad had his commercials lined up ready to go. He connects with Prendergast on a Zoom call.
“Almost every night is different,” Beers said of how this works. “Every game is a tiny nuance. Even though the UMass game was televised, it wasn’t synced.”
What he meant, Prendergast watched a feed on his television that was actually about 15 seconds ahead of what Beers was getting on a direct feed from UMass. Imagine trying to talk about a game you’re literally not seeing at that moment ... “It took a lot of self-control,” Prendergast said.
That game, a La Salle player had to shoot a free throw and Beers heard Prendergast grunt. He knew what that meant … the guy had clearly missed.
This wasn’t an issue for the George Mason game. Things were lined up. Beers could yell “POW” at a made three-pointer that his analyst saw at the same time. There just weren’t many chances to yell “POW.” As La Salle got run out of the building, Beers and Prendergast made clear their allegiance, but told it like it was.
“If you’re keeping track at home, the Explorers are 2 for 13,” Beers said early on as La Salle fell behind 18-5.
“This is going to be difficult for La Salle as you know, because La Salle’s just not big,” Prendergast noted after starting center Clifton Moore hit the bench with foul trouble and the Explorers fell behind by 31-13. “Did not expect this.”
“Nope,” Beers said.
Beers took any chance he could get to celebrate a strong play.
“I’m still enough of a rabid fan of our program,” Beers had said earlier. “I’m still yelling, I’m still getting emotional. I get really wrapped up in the game.”
Pregame, Beers, also director of La Salle’s athletic development, gave a little Zoom tour of his office. In addition to family photos, there is Lionel Simmons and the 2013 NCAA Sweet 16 Explorers and late PA announcing legend John McAdams and wide shots of Steve Smith era and Donnie Carr era La Salle games.
For Christmas, Beers gave Prendergast a headset and a boom microphone so he was fully equipped to work from home.
“Don’t print this, but one game I actually did in my pajamas,” Prendergast said.
C’mon, have to use that.
“OK, use it,” said Prendergast, a basketball lifer, La Salle graduate, father of three La Salle graduates, a member of the Speedy Morris coaching staff all those Speedy years. His wife, Janie, is Rich’s technical adviser, getting him hooked up to the Zoom call on her laptop, unmuting him at the proper time, staying within range in case there are any glitches.
“She’s making the sacrifices,” Prendergast said. “I’m literally taking away her television, and her 88th viewing of Law and Order.”
It’s Beers who does all the heavy lifting, Prendergast points out. Even the home games, Prendergast is doing from the shore. Beers and his cohorts in town all are in the same boat, pulling off technical feats that rival anything performed on the court since there is rarely visiting radio for out of town games.
This game, Beers got to his office a little over two hours before tip-off. He could work at home but the logistics would be all but impossible. (Needing to print out stats, for instance.) And he’s got 6-year-old twins, so asking them to stay out of ear shot for two hours … not going to happen. Beers does put home on the Zoom call, so when Beers yelled out “Love you guys” during a second-half timeout, he wasn’t talking to Prendergast. His kids were waving good night on the Zoom.
Because the game goes out on a streaming app, Beers knows that an avid Explorers fan stationed at an Army base in Germany is listening, and also that pregame shows can be a little longer, and postgame shows as long or short as he wants.
“This game is finally and mercifully over,” Beers said when it hit final, ugly as it gets the whole way. “The Explorers with their most difficult outing, a 75-42 thrashing at the hands of George Mason to drop the Explorers to 5-7 on the season and 2-3 in Atlantic Ten play. A night to forget in Northern Virginia. We’re going to take a break. When we come back, we’ll be short and sweet with this one.”
A commercial came on and the Zoom call was silent, no words needed, another pandemic-cast in the books.