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A lifelong East Bay Area native has been turning his dream into reality. Armed with a Mass Communications degree from Las Positas College, Will MacNeil has converted his love for baseball and the Oakland A’s into a paid gig.

Born in San Lorenzo, but calling Dublin home, MacNeil is a Bay Area sports fan through and through. He found his calling in radio broadcasting. Until the day he’s able to answer that call, he has found work in the hotel industry. But his favorite Bay Area baseball team has given MacNeil the opportunity to combine his love for sports and dream of being on the radio. 

In 1988, a 5-year-old MacNeil began his love for baseball and the Oakland A’s. In those days the Bash Brothers ruled the MLB. Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were smashing home runs like no one else in the league. The duo was often compared to Mickey Mantle/Roger Maris, Willie Mays/Willie McCovey and Hank Aaron/Eddie Mathews. It was an exciting time to be an A’s fan.

Watching a game on TV with his uncle, MacNeil caught his first glimpse of the A’s and his favorite player of the time, McGwire. But it was more than just a future baseball superstar that drew a young MacNeil to the team from Oakland. It was the flashy green and gold. 

“I just loved their colors,” McNeil said. 

MacNeil’s love for the A’s has sparked a friendly family rivalry with his uncle. As a lifelong Giants fan, he was upset MacNeil didn’t follow the fandom, but MacNeil’s love for the A’s has led him to the career path he has always dreamed of. 

A lifelong goal of MacNeil’s was a career in radio. This is what led MacNeil to Las Positas College in 2004. The first years didn’t go as planned with MacNeil struggling with homework. Coming from a high school that didn’t assign homework, MacNeil had to adjust to college and relearn student skills. MacNeil spent nearly six years at Las Positas, studying a range of subjects, his favorite being classes involving radio. This fell in line with his dream of being a radio broadcaster. 

“I loved every minute of it,” MacNeil said.

With a Mass Communications degree earned, MacNeil went to work in the hotel industry, a far cry from where he wanted to be. Working with the hotel has afforded MacNeil many opportunities to attend sporting events throughout the Bay Area. He has often interacted with players and fans at baseball and hockey games. It also allowed him to hone his P.A. announcer skills with various organizations around the Bay Area. One of the first was with the Neptune Beach Pearl, a youth baseball organization in Alameda. Another was for the Women’s Premier Basketball Association. 

MacNeil’s big break came in 2019 with a promotion for April Fool’s Day by the Oakland A’s. In the April No Fools promotion by the Oakland A’s, fans were encouraged to reply to a social media post with their “wildest to tamest” dreams for the April 1, 2019 game versus the Boston Red Sox. Without hesitation, MacNeil contacted the A’s about being a P.A. announcer for a game. To his surprise, he was chosen to fulfill his dream. 

MacNeil was invited to the press box to announce a half inning with longtime A’s announcer Dick Callahan, who served as Oakland’s P.A. voice from 2005 to 2019 before retiring due to illness. Finally, all the hard work paid off. The first batter MacNeil announced was Ramon Laureano. Laureano hit a home run off David Price in the 7-0 victory over Boston. 

“That was pretty awesome,” MacNeil said.

The April No Fools promotional night was just the start. MacNeil’s P.A. performance was heard by the management of the Stockton Ports. The Ports are the Low-A minor league affiliate of the Oakland A’s. MacNeil was invited to join the press box team as a P.A. announcer on a fill-in basis when longtime voice of Ports baseball Mike Conway had the night off. MacNeil jumped at the opportunity to follow the dream of being a broadcaster. 

“It’s an adrenaline rush. It’s cool to be able to say I’m one of the few people in the country that get to say I do this professionally,” MacNeil said. 

WILL MacNEIL came to Las Positas College in 2004 to chase his radio dreams. So when opportunity knocked 15 years later, he was ready. (Photo by Justin Gomes/ The Express)

Even with just a few games a month MacNeil serves as P.A. announcer, he never takes this opportunity for granted. In his downtime, he spends time learning the proper pronunciation of player names. After five years MacNeil, who still loves his role with the Ports, remarked how amazing it is to come to the ballpark watch a game with a bird’s eye view and get paid for it.

“There’s nothing better than that. If I only stay at this level, so be it. I’m happy as heck doing it, I’ll do it as long as they want me,” MacNeil said.

When not in the pressbox, MacNeil can be found in the stands interacting with players and fans. Clad in a different jersey every game and showing his support for the team. MacNeil has become a staple in Bay Area sports; he can often be found at the glass near the players’ tunnel at Barracuda and Sharks hockey games. As a season ticket holder, MacNeil attends nearly every Oakland A’s home game. That time will soon be coming to an end with the A’s planned relocation to Las Vegas, a controversial move that has nearly every fan up in arms. 

The projected move sparked the #Sell protests around the Bay Area and Major League Baseball, citing bad ownership like many fans have since the announcement. MacNeil still plans to support the team he has loved for the past 35 years, but is adamant that he will never step foot in the Vegas ballpark to see the A’s. 

“It would just be ripping out my soul. My heart,” MacNeil said.

MacNeil still remains uncertain about attending games next year in Sacramento, but it isn’t out of the question yet. For now, he is content to be a fan in Oakland and continue to do what he loves, attending Bay Area sports supporting his teams and being a part-time P.A. Announcer. 

TOP PHOTO: Will MacNeil poses for a selfie with a player from the Stockton Ports, the low-A minor league affiliate of the Oakland A’s. (Photo by Justin Gomes/ The Express)

Justin Gomes is the Editor-in-Chief of The Express. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @JLGPHOTOG.

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