It’s another warm spring day when Chris Payne enters the press box at Greater Nevada Field.
Despite Reno’s disappointing record, the Aces on-field emcee is all smiles as he looks out to deep left field. “It’s going to be a great day today,” Payne says with a chuckle. “I can feel it in my bones, guys!”
After chatting it up with Aces announcer Cory Smith, Payne is ready to fill his stomach as his eyes immediately dart to the countless cardboard boxes of delicious Rick’s Pizza. Being on the job for three years and counting, he gets the gist of everything by now.
“It’s just what I do, nobody can tell me any different,” Payne says. “I like interacting with everybody and cracking a few jokes here before my day begins.”
Given the nickname CP, Payne has given eight years toward the Aces organization. Working as a fill-in public address announcer for Reno from 2010-2015 before taking his enthusiastic tone and demeanor down to the field the very next season. “It took a little adjusting,” he says. “But I got used to it over time. All in all, I’m happy to be where I am right now.”
Payne’s on-field responsibilities include hosting contests, leading the charge for singalongs, stumping fans with trivia questions, keeping the people entertained and last, but not least, having fun and acting like a kid again.
“In my honest opinion, if you’re not having a good time, then I’m not having a good time.” he says with an infectious smile.
Despite CP’s playful personality, he treats his job with the utmost respect. He arrives at the stadium hours before game time to look over and practice dozens of scripts to present in-between innings. He also stays after-hours to host various promotions, including a fan-favorite: Kids Run The Bases every Saturday night when the Aces are in town.
“I have one ultimate goal for every single game,” he says. “And that’s to make each game a special one for the thousands of people who pack this place. Whether it’s a person’s first game or five-hundredth, I want to make it a memorable one. It keeps the games new for me, too, so I strive to give the people here a good time.”
When Payne isn’t making a fan’s day, he’s deciphering the popular sports conspiracies surrounding the early 2000s. Two series in particular that press on his mind are the 2000 Western Conference Finals series between the Trail Blazers and Lakers, and the 2004 controversial Yankees-Red Sox ALCS.
“Both the Lakers and the Red Sox should’ve never won a single game in those series, let alone the whole thing!” Payne says in a rising voice. “Offensively speaking, Portland was better on paper than the Lakers and New York had the best bats and pitching in the league at that point. If you ask me, some fishy business was going on there. It’s weird that both of those teams just miraculously won the series despite getting hammered for the majority of the games.”
Away from the action, CP’s wide array of interests include exploring various West Coast locations or quenching his thirst with a stiff drink.
“I am big into traveling, so I try to go whenever the time presents itself,” Payne says. “I have some spots in Portland, Seattle, and even San Francisco, which is pretty cool. I am a big supporter of public transportation to save money and view the cities, as well. So I take advantage of that to travel from certain venues and whatever. Other than that, I love jammin’ out to all kinds of music or enjoying some cool beer tastings around town. But then again, I am a tequila guy myself.”
If you want to keep in touch with Payne’s daily routine through the biggest little city, follow him on Twitter at LINK.
– Isaiah Burrows
- Reno Aces home stand
6:35 p.m. Friday, May 4 – Tacoma
6:35 p.m. Saturday, May 5 – Tacoma
1:05 p.m. Sunday, May 6 – Tacoma
11:35 a.m. Monday, May 7 – Tacoma
6:35 p.m. Tuesday, May 8 – Albuquerque
5 p.m. Wednesday, May 9 – Albuquerque*
6:35 p.m. Thursday, May 10 – Albuquerque
6:35 p.m. Friday, May 11 – Albuquerque
6:35 p.m. Saturday, May 12 – El Paso
1:05 p.m. Sunday, May 13 – El Paso
6:35 p.m. Monday, May 14 – El Paso
11:35 a.m. Tuesday, May 15 – El Paso
- *Reno 150 Celebration, click LINK for free tickets