If you’ve been to a Melbourne Aces game this season or visited the MCG in recent years, there’s a fair chance you’ll know the dulcet tones of George Donikian.
The former SBS and Channel 10 news anchor is the voice of the Aces, proudly donning the full franchise attire while keeping the fans updated and entertained from the box on top of the grandstand at Melbourne Ballpark.
“I went into the shop and they couldn’t believe it, I bought all my gear on day one and I’m a fully kitted out Melbourne Ace,” Donikian says.
“I’ve got a brand new Melbourne Aces cap that even the players haven’t got.
“My wife asked me why I was fully kitted out for day one of the season and I said ‘Darling, I don’t do things by halves!’”
Donikian is a diehard baseball fan, having played the game as a child, but it was his discovery of the storied New York Yankees in the 1970s that cemented his love for the game.
“I’m still a huge baseball fan. I played baseball as a youngster at school, so I always had a soft spot. I’m a Yankees fan. I discovered them in the early 1970’s when I started travelling the world,” he says.
“I wanted to read on the plane and you didn’t have entertainment in those days. I bought a book called ‘Dynasty’ which was about the Yankees. I fell in love with the stories and the great characters.
While Donikian is obsessed with the Yankees, he’s excited by both the on and off-field future of the Melbourne Aces.
The club installed a new video screen prior to the 2019-20 ABL Season and launched new fan interaction segments designed to help create an unrivalled experience at the baseball.
“The immersive experience is terrific and it’s unique. The thing that excites me no end is that Justin Huber and the team behind him – they’re fabulous. Like Ange and the dance crew, they’re all good kids, they all want to have fun, but they all love being there,” he says.
“They get you to sing and dance, play and onto the diamond. The Aces have sponsors galore who understand making it an experience is key. Anything you see at the MCG, we’re trying to bring to the Aces at Melbourne Ballpark.
“For me, if I had one thing to say to the fans, it’s come and experience baseball – don’t come and watch it, come and experience Melbourne Aces baseball, you’ll love it.”
The Aces have the chance to win their first ABL Championship this weekend. While the prospect of finally claiming the Claxton Shield after two previous losses is mouth-watering, George and the team are already looking ahead to next season.
“We’ve got a fantastic new tool that’s the first in Australia, it’s called Trackman. It’s been provided to us from a crew out of Norway who are IT specialists,” Donikian says.
“What we haven’t done yet is learnt how to harness what it provides and put it on the screen to give the fans a chance to see spin rates, speed and all of that sort of stuff.”
Whatever happens this weekend, Donikian is proud of the season the Aces have had and can’t wait to return to the Ballpark for more double-header Saturdays later this year.
“There is every chance that if I was 20 years younger, I’d have snuck down to the dugout and be stepping on toes,” he says.
“I’m so excited by the Melbourne Aces because they are in a unique position where because they’re trying to bring people in, they can be brave and adventurous.”
The Melbourne Aces host the Adelaide Giants at 7pm this Friday in Game 1 of the ABL Championship Series at Melbourne Ballpark.