Since he was five, Mike Baca, Chico State’s basketball and baseball broadcaster, knew he was going to be a sports announcer.
Even at an early age, he would turn down the volume of Warriors games, turn on the cassette recorder and tape himself talking over the plays, Baca said.
“It was like tunnel vision,” he said.
Baca has been covering Chico State basketball and baseball games commercially since 1997. But before he was hired as a professional, he started out with Chico State’s own KCSC in 1990.
Baca’s passion and enthusiasm sets him apart from the rest, said Anita Barker, Chico State athletics director.
“He is almost a part of the team,” Barker said. “He wins with us. He loses with us.”
One of her favorite Baca moments was during the men’s basketball game in the 2014 West Regional Championship against Cal State San Bernadino, Barker said.
With the Wildcats making a comeback run and on the verge of tying the game, Amir Carraway, now a Chico State alumnus, made two clutch free throws.
“He just erupted out of his chair, and he was as far back from the table as his headset cord would let him be and jumping around and dancing around,” Barker said.
During the 25 years he has been broadcasting Chico State athletics, he has rightfully earned the title “Voice of the Wildcats.”
However, Baca almost didn’t make it back to Chico.
After he graduated from Chico State in 1994, he worked as a producer for Mike Golic, NFL veteran turned sports talk radio host. He only worked there for a few months before leaving, but if the timing had been different he could have stayed in Phoenix, Baca said.
“I probably would be in Bristol,” he said.
Bristol is located in Connecticut and is home to ESPN headquarters.
He is not hung up on how things could have been. The poor timing was a blessing in disguise, and he is very happy to be announcing Chico State games on the radio, he said.
Radio broadcasting is more enjoyable than television broadcasting, and Baca is proud to be taking after his inspiration, the late Bill King, a longtime Bay Area sports broadcaster, he said.
One can really hear Bill King’s iconic style during Baca’s broadcasts, said Luke Reid, Chico State’s sports information director.
As for Baca, he has no plans of broadcasting anywhere else in the near future, he said.
“I’ve been so immersed here,” Baca said. “I’ve gone to school here and done the games on the student station. I love Chico. It’s a great place.”