Written By Dylan Manfre
Michael Gross is filled with pride when he sits behind a microphone, clears his throat and reads names. What started out as a hobby for the California native is now one of his biggest passions: public address announcing.
Gross was doing a doubleheader with France and Cuba squaring off before the USA faced Israel in men’s fastpitch softball on July 15. Between innings, he reflected on the unique opportunity at the Maccabiah to do PA and coach Maccabi USA’s Open Division women’s softball team.
“Both my countries, I get to announce their game, announce their names, you’re like ‘Man, does it get any better than this?’” an elated Gross said. “Honestly, how could it get better than this? Somehow these guys heard me, they know what I do 12,000 miles from home and they’re like ‘Hey, we want you to announce our game?’ How cool is that?”
Doing PA at the Jewish Olympics allowed him to blend his love of country and sports announcing with Judaism.
The Maccabiah is the third largest sporting competition in the world with over 10,000 athletes participating. The two-week event is more commonly known as the Jewish Olympics.
He did not know where using his voice as an instrument would take him when he started this venture seven years ago.
“Don’t say no to new adventures,” Gross said. “You never know where it might take you.”
The Voice of San Diego
His jubilation for this opportunity exuded through the phone interview as he reminisced about how his new career behind the mic began. He was paid $60 for each game he called for Olympian High School in Chula Vista, California, where he worked.
Instead of pocketing it, Gross wanted it donated to the softball program so he could buy equipment. From there, he carved his path to becoming the “voice of high school sports in San Diego.”
Word of mouth caused his name and reputation to spread leading to many opportunities. Gross traveled along the west coast calling games for various high schools and colleges. He now works as the PA announcer for San Diego State University, Point Loma Nazarene University, CIF San Diego Section and various high schools according to his Twitter bio.
“Being able to announce someone’s kid’s name during a game is so cool to me,” Gross said. “I know as a parent how cool it is to hear my kids’ names being announced when they score a goal. I want every parent to feel that way.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some in-person graduations were not taking place. He posted on Facebook, asking parents to send in scripts so their children could have their names read. He said over 100 people reached out from various parts of San Diego.
Gross is slated to work a few more games in the Maccabiah. His next one is the USA versus Israel in men’s fastpitch softball on July 21. After he is done coaching the women’s softball team, Gross’ new profession has a full slate of games awaiting him when he gets back to the states.
“I’m pretty busy,” he said. “I get back and I have a full schedule of games in September.”
Dylan Manfre is a recent graduate of Rider University and an incoming graduate student at the University of Maryland. Follow him on Twitter (@Dylan_Manfre11) and on Instagram (@ByDylanManfre)