Rokeach added hockey to his list of sports last year when he was offered the position of public address announcer for the Florida Panthers.
“I feel fortunate that a new sport came along for me and that I was given the opportunity to announce hockey,” he says. “It’s been great, especially when you take into account that my first season with the team included their qualification for the NHL playoffs.”
The Brooklyn-born public address announcer has also voiced games for the Miami Dolphins, Miami Marlins and several local high school teams and works at events featuring big-name athletes like Dwyane Wade and Alonzo Mourning. While he refers to himself as a “major sports fan,” in general, baseball has always been his passion.
“Growing up in Brooklyn, I liked the Los Angeles Dodgers,” he said. “Baseball and the Dodgers have always been something I rooted for.”
At an early age, Rokeach says, he knew he would never be a professional athlete, but he was always involved in sports in some capacity.
In high school, he worked as the basketball team’s student manager. And during his freshman year at the University of Miami, from 1968-69, he booked his first job as a public address announcer for the university’s baseball team.
Rokeach, who has announced every baseball season for the Canes since then, eventually got involved with the volleyball, football and basketball teams as well.
“I’ve been working with UM for so long that when I’m out I sometimes get recognized because of my voice,” he says. “I’m not saying I’m a celebrity, but Canes fans especially have come up to me and said, ‘I’ve been listening to you forever. It’s great hearing your voice at the games.’ It’s always nice to be recognized for your work.”
Ana Maria Blanco, 55, who has been going to games since the ’90s, is one of his fans. “It’s great to hear his voice when you go to a Canes baseball game,” she says. “My nephew associates Jay’s voice with UM.”
He also became the first public address announcer for the Florida Marlins (now the Miami Marlins) in 1993 at the start of the franchise. The team played its first game against the Dodgers, which was “surreal” for Rokeach.
He worked with the Marlins until 1997, including the Marlins’ first World Series championship.
“That World Series was the most amazing sports event that I’ve been involved with,” he says. “To experience announcing games one, two, six and seven of a World Series in your home park in front of 70-plus thousand people was an amazing thing, especially when no one expected them to accomplish this so early in their history.”
Although Rokeach has always focused on sports, his outlook works off the field.
“I just always felt that announcing was something I could do and that I could add some excitement to an event,” he says. “I’m not vanilla in my style. I like to have fun behind the microphone. It’s important to have fun with whatever you’re doing.”