If you had asked former TCU first baseman Connor Wanhanen about carving out a side career as a broadcaster after his playing days, he likely wouldn’t have given very good odds.
“Never really crossed my mind,” he said. “To be honest, I was playing the game, I didn’t hear many broadcasts.”
When Wanhanen graduated in 2018, he knew baseball was probably behind him. His stellar academic record landed him at accounting and consulting firm JTaylor. Wanhanen had just started to apply his baseball work ethic to his new endeavor when he received a phone call.
It was TCU’s assistant director of sports communication, Brandie Davidison. TCU needed a new color analyst. Color commentators, or analysts, work alongside play-by-play announcers providing expert opinions, insights and anecdotes as the game progresses.
Davidson told him that since he had done well in post-game interviews, she thought he might be perfect for the spot.
“I’d had Connor in the back of my mind for this since he was a sophomore,” she said.
Wanhanen was her go-to person to speak to the media no matter whether it was a good game or a bad game.
“He could speak intelligently and eloquently about the game, so I always called on him,” she said.
So, when the color commentator position opened up, his was the first name on her list.
“And it worked out,” she said. “He’s done great.”
It was, Wanhanen, 27, admits, a bit of a trial by fire.
“The first game I did was against Texas at home on a Friday night, and we did some on-the-field-kind-of interviews and, I mean, you can literally see the microphone shaking in my hand,” he said.
Wanhanen has come a long way since then, thanks in part to his partner, longtime play-by-play man Chuck Lamendoa, who also is a professor in the TCU school of communications.
“It has been great to learn this side of the business from him because he has this experience and he teaches this as well,” Wanhanen said. “So he’s got the practical and the classroom side covered.”
In the years since he began his broadcast duties, Wanhanen has soaked in as much knowledge about broadcasting as possible, learning how to talk about the game and add to the viewer experience.
“The biggest thing I had about watching games and broadcasts is that you don’t want people to turn it off because of how they feel about the commentator,” he said.
He didn’t want to be that guy.
“It’s all about the players on the field. It’s not about me in any way, shape or form,” he said. “So it becomes, how can I add a little bit of education to anyone that may be watching, but not be so overbearing that the viewer wants to turn it off. I hope I do that.”
One of Wanhaven’s biggest fans – both on the field and in the broadcast booth – is former TCU assistant coach Bill Mosiello, known as Coach Mo. Now head coach at The Ohio State University, Mosiello helped recruit Wanhanen to TCU.
“He was focused on the field,” Mosiello said. “That focus has helped him in broadcasting too, just like it did on the field.”
Mosiello saw Wanhanen play at Flower Mound High School.
“We were lucky to have him on the field,” Mosiello said. “It’s great he can now bring that knowledge he learned on the field to the broadcast booth.”
Wanhanen, who during his TCU career, went to the College World Series three times, considers himself fortunate to be part of the broadcast team during this past wild and unexpected year. After a lackluster first half of the season, TCU began winning when they needed to and eventually advanced to the College World Series as one of the final four, losing to the Florida Gators.
“TCU caught fire at the right time and man what a ride,” Wanhanen said.
Wanhanen, a first baseman for TCU, had also caught fire at the right time at the end of his freshman year, Mosiello said.
“He had been in a slump and when he came back, he had some of his best plays in our College World Series appearance that year,” he said. “That speaks to Connor’s preparation. He stuck with it and it paid off. He made some great, unforgettable plays.”
|Connor Wanhanen bio|
Birthplace: Flower Mound
Family: Parents,Kathleen and Ronald, sister, Kellie.
Education: He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Christian University with a bachelor of business administration in finance and accounting.
Work experience: Senior manager consulting services with JTaylor.
Volunteer experience: Leadership Fort Worth – LeadingEdge, Harris Health Exchange, Texas Young Professionals, TCU Alumni Association, TCU Block T Association.
First job: JTaylor. “I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.”
Advice for someone learning to be a leader: “Never stop seeking areas to improve and then seeking out those things that can help you develop.”“I’m somebody that is trying to go at a pretty fast speed. I understand that that’s not necessarily the same for everybody, but we’re all here for a finite amount of time. If there’s something that you want to put your mind to, that you have in your head, attack at full speed. Don’t give this half effort, but go into it, and then really, truly use the resources around you.”
Best advice ever received: “Everything that was drilled into our head on a daily basis in baseball about continual improvement, that growth mindset, being resilient and dealing with adversity. We don’t realize when we’re in that moment, but those things then Coach Jim Schlossnagle and the rest of the coaching staff preached to us, have prepared me for the next phase of life. We’ve been able to handle all of the different curveballs that life throws at you. I think that’s the thing that I’m most grateful for.”
At JTaylor, Wanhanen is part of the fast-growing firm’s consulting group that consists of about 50 people. His focus is healthcare where he has worked with clients as varied as national physician management company, multi-hospital health system, surgery center networks and smaller physician practices. He balances his work with his duties in the broadcast booth.
“It’s not alway easy but JTaylor has been great,” Wanhanen said.
For Kyle Kirkpatrick, director of consulting services at JTaylor, Wanhanen’s leadership skills on the ball field have translated well into his consulting career.
“He’s a quiet type of leader, leading by example, but when he speaks up, you know it and his team members listen,” he said.
Just like his coaches who were never afraid to put him in a game, Kirkpatrick said he is never worried putting Wanhanen in front of a client.
“He’s prepared, he’s ready, he’s the definition of a team player,” he said.
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.