UCF alumnus Vince Cotroneo ‘83 has experienced some memorable moments during the past 25 years of his career as a radio broadcaster for Major League Baseball.
His first opening day in 1991 with the Houston Astros. His first postseason game in 1997. His first inside-the-park home run call during the 2006 playoffs.
Yet, it was a series of three spring training games for the Oakland A’s in Mesa, Arizona this year that rank at the top of the list for him. He was on air alongside his 22-year-old son, Dominic, and that’s why it holds a special place in his heart.
“Let me tell you, that was rewarding. It was strange. It was very poignant. I tried not to cry,” Vince said of joining his son for a few innings. “He loves what he’s doing. He works very hard at it, and he’s basically done it on his own terms. It’s a proud moment watching your son going down the path of realizing his dreams.”
Dominic’s journey into sportscasting nearly duplicates that of his father’s. Both men are living their dreams through hard work and perseverance, and they have their family tree to thank for their love of the game.
The son of Joe Cotroneo, Vince was the youngest of four brothers. The Cotroneo family lived in Altamonte Springs, where Joe was a Little League baseball coach for years and taught his sons to love the game.
On a family trip to Brooklyn for a funeral when Vince was 14, his cousins were watching the New York Knicks on television. He still recalls his family turning down the sound on the TV and turning up the radio instead.
“They were listening to Marv Albert do the game on the radio while watching on television, and I thought that was really cool,” he recalled. “That’s what ultimately hooked me into what I wanted to do.”
While attending UCF, he joined the radio station as a first-year student and later became the sports director. He also served as the sports editor for the university’s student newspaper, the Central Florida Future.
“There were so many open doors for students. I was lucky enough to jump in with both feet and take advantage of it,” Vince said. “They gave me so many different opportunities in so many areas to prepare me for what I wanted to do in real life. To learn my craft, make my mistakes, get better, to enjoy the atmosphere. To enjoy the camaraderie of people.”
Following graduation in 1983, he made his way to Lynchburg, VA, to cover the New York Mets’ minor league club.
After nine years in the minor leagues, he was called up by Houston for an open position it needed to fill. On the Astros’ opening day in 1991 against the reigning World Series champion Cincinnati Reds, Cotroneo was in the broadcast booth at 30 years old.
“It’s something I’ll never forget — being involved in that environment, wide-eyed, watching it all unfold,” he said. “I was extremely fortunate to get that opportunity and it’s been a great run ever since.”
Perhaps it’s because his family has been with him for the ride.
He met his wife, Veronica, at a baseball field. Their first date was to see the 1989 film Major League. Their honeymoon was at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
Before he met Veronica, Vince planned to name his first-born son Dominic as a nod to the DiMaggio brothers — Hall of Famer Joe, Vince and Dominic. His father’s favorite player was Joe DiMaggio, so it seemed only fitting.
She went along with it and got naming rights to their two daughters, Olivia and Sophia, who came along later.
Dominic is now a student at Arizona State and is mirroring nearly every step his father took.
At 15, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in sports radio. He got his foot in the door by starting away-game broadcasts for his high school baseball team.
He saved up money from his part-time job to buy the necessary equipment – a laptop, scorebook, table and a chair that he carted on the bus every road trip – and asked the coach if the team could handle his $50-per-month streaming subscription fee.
Thanks to his experience in high school, he arrived at Arizona State with a resume strong enough to secure the baseball gig for the college radio broadcast program.
Now, he’s taking advantage of Arizona State’s online classes while living in Kinston, NC, to cover the Down East Wood Ducks, the High ‘A’ minor league franchise of the Texas Rangers.
His father listens in when he can and is always there to offer advice, colleague to colleague, when Dominic needs it. More importantly, with 140 games in 165 days on Dominic’s schedule, Vince knows the grind of the season better than most and checks in on his son every day.
“That’s a father’s love,” Dominic said. “It’s amazing to know I’ve got him in my corner.”
This Father’s Day, they will be almost 3,000 miles apart in their respective broadcast booths, and yet still connected through the airwaves doing what they love to do.