John Balginy was inducted into the Idaho Falls Professional Baseball Hall of Fame at Melaleuca Field Saturday night. | Courtesy Chukars
IDAHO FALLS — After decades of calling Chukars baseball games, broadcaster John Balginy has been inducted into the Idaho Falls Professional Baseball Hall of Fame at Melaleuca Field.
The surprise ceremony took place Saturday evening — on his 65th birthday — at an Idaho Falls Bandits baseball game. Balginy is the fifth person to make his way into the local hall of fame. He joins other baseball greats including former Major League Baseball African American player Jackie Robinson, and local greats such as former team manager Don Werner, former Chukars player and MLB all-star Billy Butler and Balginy’s former broadcasting partner, Jim Garchow, who passed away in 2009.
“He’s the one that brought me to Idaho Falls way back when and we were in the booth together for 25 years,” Balginy said about Garchow. “(He’s) my best friend (and) my mentor, so to be next to Jim again, it’s going to be pretty cool.”
Balginy, who is also the voice of Idaho Falls High School and Skyline High School, has broadcasted over 1,000 Chukars home games since his first year in 1985.
His love for the game has grown while in Idaho Falls, but his passion for baseball started years ago when he was growing up in El Paso, Texas.
When he was a little kid, he was a batboy for the Texas league team in El Paso, and his dad was a trainer for the Albuquerque Dodgers baseball team.
“I’ve been around baseball all my life,” he said. “I (am) a baseball nut.”
After moving to Idaho Falls, the first few years he wasn’t involved in baseball. But that changed in the 80s when he started working with Garchow. Over the years, Balginy has become a crucial part of the Chukars’ organization.
“John’s been instrumental in promoting baseball and sports throughout our area, professionally and high school amateur baseball as well,” Kevin Greene, Chukars’ team president and general manager said. “He means a lot to sports in this community, and I don’t think (Chukars baseball) ever would have had the listenership that it has without guys like Jim Garchow and John Balginy promoting baseball.”
Balginy enjoys watching the game and painting a picture for the listeners, whether they’re at the stadium or listening to the game away from the ballpark. He says he appreciates the fans who bring their radios to the game just so they can hear his broadcast.
“To me, that’s cool because obviously, they’re watching, but we can add a lot more, maybe tell some stories or background or stuff like that,” he said. “So (when) I see somebody bringing a radio into the game, it always makes me feel good.”
Chukars baseball most likely won’t happen this season so you won’t hear Balginy calling those games, but you can still hear him broadcast the Idaho Falls Bandits games. Their schedule can be found by clicking here.