Whenever a scheduling conflict arises, Jerome Hruska does his best to juggle his responsibilities as a Stonewall Jackson High School teacher and as the Washington Nationals public address announcer.
With some exceptions, he usually is able to do both. But not Friday.
With Washington hosting a World Series game for the first time in 86 years, Hruska plans to take the day off from teaching since he must arrive at Nationals Park six hours before the first pitch to start his own pre-game routine.
Like the Washington fan base, Hruska is experiencing this special moment for the first time himself. And it’s something he can’t wait to be a part of.
“I grew up always wanting to see the World Series,” Hruska said. “Now I really get to see it.”
Hruska has been Washington’s PA announcer since 2007. Since then, he’s been behind the microphone for over 1,000 games, only missing 10 to 12 at the most. He’s seen first-hand the ups and downs of a franchise that went from enduring six straight losing seasons to reaching the postseason five of the last eight seasons.
He’s announced big events before, including the 2018 MLB All-Star Game and Opening Day. But announcing the World Series is a different ball game with the way Washington positioned itself as the underdog.
“Everything is different,” Hruska said. “It’s all new and something we’re not used to.”
A 1996 Hylton High School graduate who also taught at Forest Park, Hruska has been doing PA work since college. When the Montreal Expos moved to Washington for the 2005 season, Hruska was one of 22 finalists to audition for the PA position. He did not get it, but in 2006 while doing the PA for the Potomac Nationals, he had the chance to serve as the backup announcer for Washington.
In 2007, the Nationals brought him back for another audition, and this time he landed the job.
In addition to his responsibilities as a husband and father (he and his wife Jessica, a Stonewall teacher for 19 years, have two kids), the baseball schedule demands much of his time during the 162-game regular season that begins in April and runs through September.
Hruska balances it the best he can. He missed only three of Washington’s 81 home games this season after his father passed away in July. Two years ago, he also had to miss three games when Stonewall’s robotics team qualified for nationals. Hruska is Stonewall’s technology education department chair.
On the rare occasion when a Nationals day game forces him to miss school, he finds other ways to make up for it with his involvement at Stonewall. He also finds ways to link his Nationals job with his teaching job.
For example, he pre-records answers from his Stonewall students to questions he asks at Washington’s annual Winterfest.
“By marrying them together, it becomes a lifestyle,” said Hruska.
Hruska said the biggest part of his job is leading up to the game. He checks pronunciations of team members’ names, especially from the visitor’s side, to make sure he says them correctly. He goes through the script, while also researching the opposing team since he helps with the scoreboard.
The only ad-lib comes during the Presidents Race when he has no idea who is going to win.
Hruska said he doesn’t feel any added pressure announcing the World Series.
“I’m approaching it as a regular game,” Hruska said. “You push the same buttons. It’s certainly more exciting.”
Hruska usually stops following baseball after the Nationals’ season is done. That includes viewing the World Series. But not this year with an added bonus.
“I get to watch it from a very cool seat,” Hruska said.