Palmer found voice in broadcasting boothBy BY MARK H. STOWERS COLUMNIST,
Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!
There are folks you grow up around that you have no idea what they will do later in life. Growing up in Inverness there were plenty of hard working and talented folks. Derrel Palmer found success in a career in which he had no training.
He knew how to talk and he always had a big smile and dressed snazzy.
He spent a year at MDJC and was actually a cheerleader.
He moved on to Clarksdale to work at Sears but also found the love of his life, Melinda – a Lambert native, and got married. After Sears there was a stint in insurance and finally a stable job at Radio Shack.
“I knew they’d give me a paycheck every two weeks.”
He put in a decade or so, did more insurance work and worked training others. But it was his talking skills that would find him a career. In 1999, he was at a Northwest Rankin baseball game but their PA guy had passed away and the fill-in wasn’t a long-term solution. A friend suggested he give it a try.
“I said I’ve never done anything like that, and he said, ‘Yeah, but you know baseball and you can talk.’”
Palmer wasn’t serious but he soon found out that Northwest Rankin was. The next day and Derrel was in the booth.
“I was scared to death,” he recalled. “They have one of the top programs and draw huge crowds.”
But he knew the game, he knew how to talk. He literally wrote out his opening lines and dove right in. Then he discovered the benefits of the sports press box world.
“They started paying me and they fed me from the concession stand and then they have a right field deck the fathers had built and they go out and cook gumbo and deer sausage – you name it and they cook it out there – and they started feeding me from the deck,” he said.
He would soon add in some play-by-play work but being on the radio was a new world as well.
“I had never done anything in radio at all,” he said. “In high school I’d go up to WNLA and hang out with (the late) Cal Hodges and watch him spin records,” he said.
But Palmer dug in at the broadcasting plate and took some advice.
“Somebody told me early on that when you do play-by-play for baseball you want to describe the action as well as the surroundings. The skies, the bleachers, the grass, birds flying by, airplanes flying over – whatever – describe everything you see in a way that if somebody’s listening on radio they can close their eyes and visualize what you’re looking at.”
God would continue to open doors for Palmer to talk even more and he soon found his way behind the microphone for Millsaps College, Belhaven University and eventually the local AA affiliate of the Braves.
“I tell people now when they ask me what I do is I talk for a living. Someone once told me
if you really love what you do it’s not like going to work.”
From the turnrows of Inverness to the press box of the MS Braves, Palmer uses what God blessed him with to help bless sports teams he works with – “he knows how to talk.”