Jason Benetti has always known he wanted to be behind the microphone.
“I just started calling video games in my room when I have friends over,” he said.
While his bedroom walls were very impressed with his calls, Benetti started shooting higher and became the marching band announcer at his high school after a suggestion from his director.
“I used to play the tuba and I couldn’t carry the sousaphone because I was/is tiny,” he said.
Born 10 weeks premature, Benetti spent three months in intensive care with a respiratory illness. As a result, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a toddler.
“I walk with a limp. And then I have an eye that drifts,” he explained of his disability.
That didn’t stop Benetti from setting his goals high. After graduating from Syracuse, he got his law degree at Wake Forest while also calling the High Point Panthers games.
He credits his success to those first opportunities he was given. “When somebody says hey, you might be kind of good at that and you’re young, that can be all that’s necessary as a launching point.”
A launching point that sent him through the world of ESPN and eventually being the face of the Chicago White Sox.
That’s the face. Not just the voice.
For someone who’s always felt he looked different, that was a little intimidating.
“I was on radio. I didn’t want to do TV,” he said. “I didn’t want to look at the camera. I didn’t want people looking at me. I wanted people to hear me then meet me.”
The switch to from radio to TV is one he never expected for himself.
“The odds are very tiny that somebody who isn’t a full participant in gym class is going to become a Major League baseball television announcer,” Benetti laughed.
But he slowly overcame his insecurities.
“I think the biggest obstacle is sometimes when people see somebody with a disability, they can’t get off that immediate reaction,” he explained. “There are a lot of first thoughts that people have about somebody who walks different.”
Now Benetti is consistently proving that he’s more than meets the eye.
“There’s a low bar, because when I walk up to you people are like, ‘I bet he can’t drive. I bet he can’t walk. I bet he can’t talk without stuttering,’ all of those things that come along with it,” he said. “So I think I just inherently impress people because they think I have the personality of asparagus or something before I meet them.”
It doesn’t take long for people to see he’s more than asparagus.
With every push from every mentor, he’s showing others what he’s always known himself – that he’s bigger than his disability.
“I think I’m living proof that people do have to change their first impressions and people do have to go along with it because if they didn’t change their first impression I never would have the job,” he said.
From calling video games in his bedroom to calling games in the big leagues, Benetti has shown he’s more than the guy with cerebral palsy.
He’s the guy who surpassed every limitation to make his dreams a reality.
Benetti will join Hall of Famer Jim Thome at the Hot Stove Banquet for the Winston-Salem Dash. The virtual event is on Thursday, February 17, from 6:45-8:15 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on www.WSDash.com.