Bull City Summer

Born to be a Bull

Posted May 28, 2013

Jatovi McDuffie doesn’t smile; he beams. When he talks to you, his eyes widen and his face lights up, then he laughs with his whole body. He’s easy to recognize from across the stands—arms folded at an angle, black Durham Bulls Baseball Club shirt neatly tucked into his khaki shorts, head tilted to one side as he listens and nods and confers.

Watching McDuffie, a thought occurs—he’s the mayor of the stadium. He can’t make it 10 feet without bumping into someone he knows and exchanging effusive backslaps. Given his job—and his personality—this isn’t surprising. For the past nine years, McDuffie has worked as the on-field promotional announcer for the Bulls. Every three outs, he’s on the diamond with his microphone in hand, rallying the crowd to cheer along while members of the promotion squad wrestle in sumo suits or kids race around the bases against Wool E. Bull, the team’s bovine mascot.

“Okay, everyone, I want to introduce you to Chaz! Everybody wave!” McDuffie yells at the crowd with infectious energy, one hand on the shoulder of this young contender. “Chaz needs to throw all four of these beanbags into these buckets. Your job is to make noise. Chaz needs to hear you all the time so he has the strength and the willpower to make these shots!” The crowd cheers and cheers—and McDuffie cheers with them—as Chaz launches his beanbags into the air.

McDuffie’s enthusiasm doesn’t fade once his microphone is back in his pocket and the game has resumed. Instead, he circulates around the stadium, greeting fans and making jokes and catching up with the season ticketholders who have become game day staples for McDuffie after nearly a decade of emceeing. (That includes six years of emceeing full-time for every home game of the season, totaling well over 500 games—not that he’s counting.)

“You recognize faces,” he says. “It’s so weird watching kids that I saw when they were three that are now 12 years old. It’s so crazy. You see kids grow up.”

McDuffie also grew up in Durham, graduating from Northern High School. He came to this job after years of performing improvisational comedy for Triangle troupes ComedyWorx and Humor Therapy. When the on-field announcer position opened up, two friends—a basketball buddy who at the time worked for the Bulls and a fellow improv performer who worked for Fox 50—encouraged him to try out. After several auditions, during which the promotional director’s first and second choices for the job backed out, McDuffie landed the gig.

McDuffie draws on his improv comedy experience to keep the crowds entertained and the activities moving:

“Honestly, the biggest difference between this and improv is just the size of the crowds,” he says. “You can have 10,000 fans watching at the stadium, and an improv show might have 300 people in the audience on a good night.”

And the other difference? Out on the field, McDuffie isn’t playing a character.

“In a sense, it’s being me playing me.”

All of these skills—the improv, the humor, the sociability and endless energy—come into play for McDuffie’s other job, his day job, so to speak: He works as a teacher at the New Horizons Character and Leadership Academy, a faith-based independent alternative school for at-risk youth in Durham.

The students at New Horizons range in age from 15 to 21, and many of them have been through the criminal justice system and are three or four grade levels behind. The majority are from low-income, single-parent homes; over half are raised by their grandmothers. In addition to offering traditional high school coursework, the school provides instruction in character development, restorative justice and public speaking. McDuffie teaches classes in computer systems and communications. The aim is to give students a voice and instill in them self-worth, discipline and accountability through a dose of tough love.

“A lot of the students are reading at a fifth grade level,” McDuffie says. “They’ve been told that they’re stupid and dumb for years, so you’ve got to be patient and make sure they understand that they’re really smart, that they just have to take time with it.”

And that’s where his improv comedy skills come in.

“Improv is required to find different ways to tap into their abilities. And jokes help in the sense that it makes that child respect you—that you’re not trying to be this giant authoritative figure, that you’re not trying to be their dad.”

But McDuffie doesn’t open up to his students about his other role outside the classroom and on the diamond.

“I don’t want them to think that I think I’m on this level [above them] or I’m on this plateau,” he says. So he keeps his alter ego a secret—he’s a teacher by day, and an announcer by night.

“One kid I’m teaching now, she found out. She came into class, ‘Well, you know, I just realized something. My mom and I go to Bulls games, and there’s this guy who I thought was funny, and then I realized that it was Mr. Jatovi!’ That tickled me.”

New Horizons is taking steps to secure a new building to house its high school students.

“We want to keep them outside of the neighborhood or home that they live in now, at least for a little while, to keep them focused on education, on improving themselves,” McDuffie says. “Because most of them only see their neighborhood and think that’s the only place they’re ever going to be. So there are few options besides, ‘I’ll go sell drugs with my boys.’”

It’s a lot to balance—teaching, a long stretch of 72 games to announce each season, and the full-time responsibilities of being a parent to a three-year-old girl. But McDuffie, who was just nominated for 2013 Man of the Year for Community Service by Durham’s Spectacular Magazine, thrives on the busyness of his schedule and says he wants to keep announcing as long as the Bulls will have him.

“To me, being out on the field, it doesn’t feel like I’m talking to a giant crowd. If feels like I’m talking to one or two people out there, I just have a microphone,” he says.

“It really does feel like I’m hanging out … No matter if I never knew them or if I knew them for 10 years, it’s like hanging out with a bunch of friends.”

1 Comment

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • tdouble232323 May 28, 2013

    Great story and a great young man.

  • The Ryder Cup

    Saturday at 9:00 am on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: Duke vs. Virginia

    Saturday at 12:30 pm on FOX50

  • CFB: Oklahoma vs. TCU

    Saturday at 5:00 pm on FOX50

  • CFB: Arizona State at USC

    Saturday at 8:00 pm on FOX50

  • The Logan Zone

    Sunday at 11:00 am on WRAL-TV

  • The Ryder Cup

    Sunday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Panthers at Atlanta

    Sunday at 1:00 pm on FOX50

  • NFL: Kansas City at Pittsburgh

    Sunday at 8:20 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Hurricanes at Tampa Bay (Stream only)

    Tonight at 7:30 on 99.9 The Fan

  • CFB: NC State vs. Wake Forest

    Saturday at 3:30 pm on WRAL-FM

AP Top 25
Thu, Sept 29
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET12:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST
6
Fri, Sept 30
7
6:00 PT7:00 MT8:00 CT9:00 ET1:00 GMT9:00 北京时间6:00 MST8:00 EST
10
Sat, Oct 1
9:00 PT10:00 MT11:00 CT12:00 ET4:00 GMT12:00 北京时间9:00 MST11:00 EST
20
 
14
9:00 PT10:00 MT11:00 CT12:00 ET4:00 GMT12:00 北京时间9:00 MST11:00 EST
 
13
9:00 PT10:00 MT11:00 CT12:00 ET4:00 GMT12:00 北京时间9:00 MST11:00 EST
 
9:00 PT10:00 MT11:00 CT12:00 ET4:00 GMT12:00 北京时间9:00 MST11:00 EST
2
 
22
9:00 PT10:00 MT11:00 CT12:00 ET4:00 GMT12:00 北京时间9:00 MST11:00 EST
 
23
9:00 PT10:00 MT11:00 CT12:00 ET4:00 GMT12:00 北京时间9:00 MST11:00 EST
 
12:30 PT1:30 MT2:30 CT3:30 ET7:30 GMT3:30 北京时间12:30 MST2:30 EST
12
 
11
12:30 PT1:30 MT2:30 CT3:30 ET7:30 GMT3:30 北京时间12:30 MST2:30 EST
25
 
8
12:30 PT1:30 MT2:30 CT3:30 ET7:30 GMT3:30 北京时间12:30 MST2:30 EST
4
 
12:30 PT1:30 MT2:30 CT3:30 ET7:30 GMT3:30 北京时间12:30 MST2:30 EST
15
 
9
1:00 PT2:00 MT3:00 CT4:00 ET8:00 GMT4:00 北京时间1:00 MST3:00 EST
 
2:00 PT3:00 MT4:00 CT5:00 ET9:00 GMT5:00 北京时间2:00 MST4:00 EST
21
 
18
3:00 PT4:00 MT5:00 CT6:00 ET10:00 GMT6:00 北京时间3:00 MST5:00 EST
 
4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET11:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST
1
 
4:00 PT5:00 MT6:00 CT7:00 ET11:00 GMT7:00 北京时间4:00 MST6:00 EST
16
 
3
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET12:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST
5
 
17
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET12:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST
 
19
5:00 PT6:00 MT7:00 CT8:00 ET12:00 GMT8:00 北京时间5:00 MST7:00 EST
 
7:15 PT8:15 MT9:15 CT10:15 ET2:15 GMT10:15 北京时间7:15 MST9:15 EST
24
 
NFL Scoreboard
Thursday, Sep. 29
Miami 5:25 PT6:25 MT7:25 CT8:25 ET0:25 GMT8:25 北京时间5:25 MST7:25 EST7:25 CT4:25 UAE (+1)20:25 ET23:25
Cincinnati 
Sunday, Oct. 2
Indianapolis 6:30 PT7:30 MT8:30 CT9:30 ET13:30 GMT9:30 北京时间6:30 MST8:30 EST8:30 CT17:30 UAE9:30 ET12:30
Jacksonville 
 
Carolina 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET17:00 GMT1:00 北京时间10:00 MST12:00 EST12:00 CT21:00 UAE13:00 ET16:00
Atlanta 
 
Oakland 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET17:00 GMT1:00 北京时间10:00 MST12:00 EST12:00 CT21:00 UAE13:00 ET16:00
Baltimore 
 
Detroit 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET17:00 GMT1:00 北京时间10:00 MST12:00 EST12:00 CT21:00 UAE13:00 ET16:00
Chicago 
 
Tennessee 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET17:00 GMT1:00 北京时间10:00 MST12:00 EST12:00 CT21:00 UAE13:00 ET16:00
Houston 
 
Buffalo 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET17:00 GMT1:00 北京时间10:00 MST12:00 EST12:00 CT21:00 UAE13:00 ET16:00
New England 
 
Seattle 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET17:00 GMT1:00 北京时间10:00 MST12:00 EST12:00 CT21:00 UAE13:00 ET16:00
NY Jets 
 
Cleveland 10:00 PT11:00 MT12:00 CT1:00 ET17:00 GMT1:00 北京时间10:00 MST12:00 EST12:00 CT21:00 UAE13:00 ET16:00
Washington 
 
Denver 1:05 PT2:05 MT3:05 CT4:05 ET20:05 GMT4:05 北京时间1:05 MST3:05 EST3:05 CT0:05 UAE (+1)16:05 ET19:05
Tampa Bay 
 
Los Angeles 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET20:25 GMT4:25 北京时间1:25 MST3:25 EST3:25 CT0:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ET19:25
Arizona 
 
New Orleans 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET20:25 GMT4:25 北京时间1:25 MST3:25 EST3:25 CT0:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ET19:25
San Diego 
 
Dallas 1:25 PT2:25 MT3:25 CT4:25 ET20:25 GMT4:25 北京时间1:25 MST3:25 EST3:25 CT0:25 UAE (+1)16:25 ET19:25
San Francisco 
 
Kansas City 5:30 PT6:30 MT7:30 CT8:30 ET0:30 GMT8:30 北京时间5:30 MST7:30 EST7:30 CT4:30 UAE (+1)20:30 ET23:30
Pittsburgh 
Monday, Oct. 3
NY Giants 5:30 PT6:30 MT7:30 CT8:30 ET0:30 GMT8:30 北京时间5:30 MST7:30 EST7:30 CT4:30 UAE (+1)20:30 ET23:30
Minnesota 
 
Minor League Baseball
International League
El Paso 4:05 PT5:05 MT6:05 CT7:05 ET12:05 GMT
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 
 
TOUR Championship (PGA)
PosNameScoreThru
1R. McIlroy - z-12F
2tR. Moore - y-12F
2tK. Chappell - y-12F
4P. Casey-9F
5H. Matsuyama-6F
6tJ. Thomas-5F
6tD. Johnson-5F
8tA. Scott-4F
8tJ. Dufner-4F
10tS. Kim-2F
View Full Leaderboard
z = Won in Playoff   y = Lost in Playoff
 
Evian Champ (LPGA)
PosNameScoreThru
1I. Chun-21F
2tS. Park-17F
2tS. Ryu-17F
4S. Feng-15F
5S. Kim-14F
6I. Kim-12F
7A. Stanford-10F
8H. Nomura-9F
9tB. Henderson-7F
9tA. Jutanugarn-7F
View Full Leaderboard
 
European Open (EURO)
PosNameScoreThru
1A. Levy - z-19F
2R. Fisher - y-19F
3tM. Jonzon-16F
3tR. Karlsson-16F
5B. Wiesberger-15F
6M. Kaymer-14F
7tR. Bland-13F
7tE. De La Riva-13F
7tF. Fritsch-13F
7tG. Havret-13F
View Full Leaderboard
z = Won in Playoff   y = Lost in Playoff
 
Pacific Links (CHMP)
PosNameScoreThru
1C. Montgomerie - z-15F
2S. McCarron - y-15F
3tM. Jimenez-13F
3tJ. Sluman-13F
3tS. Dunlap-13F
3tD. Garwood-13F
7tB. Langer-12F
7tM. Dawson-12F
7tO. Browne-12F
10tF. Funk-11F
View Full Leaderboard
z = Won in Playoff   y = Lost in Playoff
 
ATP Scoreboard
Tuesday, Sep. 27
Chengdu Open (ATP)
First Round
D. Lajovic1 6 6   
F. Delbonis6 3 4   
Y. Lu6 6    
R. Stepanek3 4    
(7) J. Sousa63 3    
K. Khachanov77 6    
A. Mannarino6 62 6   
D. Kudla4 77 4   
(8) P. Lorenzi6 3 6   
J. Millman4 6 1   
K. Anderson6 6    
J. Thompson2 4    
(5) A. Ramos-Vino6 5 3   
M. Berrer4 7 1   
M. Baghdatis65 77 5   
P. Carreno Bu77 65 5   
(6) V. Troicki6 3    
C. Ruud3 2    
 
Shenzhen Open (ATP)
First Round
(8) J. Vesely6 710    
P. Andujar2 68    
M. Jaziri6 77    
S. Robert3 65    
G. Garcia-Lop5 4    
R. Harrison7 6    
M. Kukushkin6 62 77   
L. Rosol3 77 64   
I. Cervantes6 77    
A. Santillan2 65    
(6) B. Paire65 7 6   
N. Basilashvi77 5 3   
J. Tipsarevic77 6    
Z. Zhang63 4    
G. Elias3 3    
T. Bellucci6 6    
 
WTA Scoreboard
Tuesday, Sep. 27
Wuhan Tennis Open (WTA)
Second Round
(9) S. Kuznetsova6 6    
M. Brengle0 4    
(3) A. Radwanska6 6    
E. Makarova4 1    
(13) R. Vinci5 2    
Y. Shvedova7 6    
(14) P. Kvitova6 6    
E. Svitolina3 1    
L. Chirico1 1    
D. Kasatkina6 6    
(1) A. Kerber64 6 6   
K. Mladenovic77 1 4   
M. Doi7 0 2   
B. Strycova5 6 6   
(8) M. Keys6 6    
C. Garcia3 4    
(6) V. Williams6 6    
Y. Putintseva3 2    
(10) D. Cibulkova2 6 6   
L. Siegemund6 3 4   
C. Wozniacki6 6    
K. Siniakova4 4    
(11) J. Konta6 6    
S. Zhang3 3    
(2) G. Muguruza4 3    
J. Jankovic6 2    
 
Tashkent Open (WTA)
First Round
R. Ozaki3 6 6   
E. Kostova6 4 1   
I. Khromachev4 6 6   
T. Martincova6 3 3   
(8) N. Broady6 7    
A. Sadikovic4 5    
(3) C. Buyukakcay1 4    
S. Shapatava6 6    
P. Tig4 6 6   
V. Diatchenko6 4 3   
(6) L. Tsurenko6 6    
E. Rodina0 2    
(7) S. Cirstea5 2    
F. Schiavone7 6    
K. Pliskova6 3 6   
S. Sorribes T3 6 4   
I. Soylu6 6    
S. Soler-Espi0 2    
K. Kozlova6 77    
D. Vekic1 63    
(2) K. Flipkens79 6    
A. Bogdan67 3