Los Angeles Angels play-by-play broadcaster Steve Physioc always knew he was passionate about sports.
However, it was that same passion, and lack of focus, that put him on academic probation his first semester while he was at Kansas State.
A hopeful basketball player, Physioc said not making the team through tryouts was “a punch in the stomach.” So, he decided to become a lumberjack — a plan that didn’t last too long.
“[I knew] my mom was going to fight me,” Physioc told a sports appreciation class Thursday afternoon at Cal State Long Beach.
After raising his grades enough to a respectable GPA, he was still confused about the job he wanted to pursue so he took a year off.
Physioc became a busboy at a restaurant in Kansas City but returned to follow his passion at Kansas State.
“Something happened to me at that restaurant in Kansas City,” Physioc said. “I said ‘you know what, I love sports but I’m not an athlete. What can I do to do what I love?'”
Desperate to break into the field, Physioc heard about a radio station on campus in his broadcast lab class. He offered to do “anything.”
“I’ll sweep the floors of the press box,” Physioc said.
The radio station decided to give Physioc a shot after he raised $455 from local businesses for on-air plugs. The next closest figure raised was $62.
“I remember my hands were shaking,” Physioc recalled about his first assignment, a high school football game. “They weren’t shaking [because of nerves]. My hands were shaking because I just found what I was going to do for the rest of my life.”
Eventually, Physioc’s grades improved, he found focus and he was working three jobs.
“My first job paid me $5 a game to do football and basketball and it barely covered my gas money, but I had something to put on my résumé,” Physioc said. “When I graduated, I think I sent out 200 tapes and résumés and most of the letters I got back were rejections.”
After speaking to one of his mentors, Kansas City Royals play-by-play broadcaster Fred White, Physioc found a job working 90 to 100 hours per week at a station in Hastings, Neb. Doing reports about everything from news to sports, all Physioc cared about was that he was doing something he loved.
Physioc’s “big break” into more mainstream play-by-play work came in Cincinnati, where he called Reds baseball and Bengals football games (1983-87) and worked alongside Jerry Springer, who was his co-anchor at a local news station.
His journey approached a roadblock when he was informed he had to choose between his play-by-play work and the sports anchor position at the news station, which paid a six-figure salary.
Recently married with an adopted 1-month-old child, Physioc consulted his wife Stacey who told him, “I don’t want to live with a man that’s unhappy.”
At the time, Physioc’s brother was driving a lettuce truck and was scheduled to make a stop to the West Coast. So, he packed up and followed his brother to California, where he worked for $150 a day for just one day a week.
“It’s amazing what will happen if you love something enough, how your journey just kind of unfolds for you, and that’s what happened with me,” Physioc said.
Physioc eventually landed a job at Fresno State (1987-94) and called San Francisco Giants baseball (1987-88) and Golden State Warriors (1989-91) basketball games at the same time.
Now, Physioc calls college football and basketball games for the Pac-10 Conference, which he’s been doing for 18 years, and just finished his 13th season with the Angels. He also calls college basketball for ESPN and will broadcast Friday night’s game between No. 1 North Carolina and UC Santa Barbara at The Thunderdome on ESPNU at 7 p.m.