‘It doesn’t feel real’: Jeremiah Paprocki settles into role as Cubs PA announcer
From where he was seated at the north end of the Wrigley Field press box, Jeremiah Paprocki had the perfect view of everything…including where he came from and where he was headed.
Jeremiah settled into his new role Monday evening as the Cubs public address announcer. A couple hundred feet away, his mother, Barbara, sat with her friends.
She spent years as a parking attendant outside Wrigley Field and raised Jeremiah as a diehard Cubs fan – “She tells me I was only a couple months old at my first game,” he said.
After his debut over the Wrigley Field loudspeakers Monday night, Barbara and her friends had an opportunity to visit Jeremiah in his booth to celebrate the occasion.
“It’s amazing to have family by your side, especially on a day as big as this,” Jeremiah said. “It definitely helped calm the nerves and also make me feel at home. I’ve come to a lot of games with my mom and it’s kind of like a second home in a way, so it was awesome.”
It’s been quite the whirlwind for Jeremiah, who doesn’t turn 22 until next month and won’t graduate from college (UIC) until December.
He is also the first African-American PA announcer in Cubs history.
“We’re in the booth right now and it doesn’t feel real in any way,” he said.
The former PA announcer, Andrew Belleson, stepped away from the role before the season started. When Jeremiah saw the job posting, he figured it wouldn’t hurt to apply.
He set his expectations low initially, thinking it would be great just to get an interview.
Then the Cubs reached out and set up a Zoom interview followed by a live audition at Wrigley Field and the idea started to set in for Jeremiah that this could be a reality.
“I still don’t believe it,” he said in an interview with Taylor McGregor. “I applied and I came to a couple games in April and I was sitting in the right field bleachers and I was like, it would be crazy if in like a month or so, I would be in that press box doing it.
“I’ve been to many games over the course of the years and just sitting out there, it’s hard to imagine.”
Jeremiah typically attends a few games each season. He has fond memories of running across the bleachers after homers for souvenirs or trying to get Alfonso Soriano to throw a ball up to him in left field.
During the World Series in 2016, he didn’t have tickets but wanted to be around the area for the historic moment so he walked the neighborhood outside Wrigley Field. For Game 7, he was at home with Barbara and other family members, meticulously keeping score.
The last game Jeremiah went to as a fan was the April 22 contest when Jason Heyward notched a walk-off and the Cubs finished off a sweep of the Mets.
“That was a really big moment because I don’t see walk-offs that often,” he said. “So that was definitely something that was amazing to see and it was a perfect way to cap off my time as a fan in the stands.”
The next time the Cubs walk off a win, Jeremiah will be there watching it live from his perch in the Wrigley Field press box.