Want to know which team drafted Joe Namath? How about who Indianapolis' No. 1 draft pick was in 1983?
Ask a Wantagh fan.
For the past two decades, Wantagh football fans have been able to count themselves among the most informed fans on the Island. That's because class is in session when announcer Bill Bogatz is behind the mic.
In addition to his play-by-play and public information duties, Bogatz, 59, injects a steady stream of trivia questions and Wantagh history into his routine. "I read The New York Times and Newsday every day, and in some articles you start to see records mentioned," he said. "So I cut it out and put it in my announcing file drawer. I have everything filed by sport and school for easy access."
Bogatz, a social studies teacher at Wantagh, lives in Great Neck and attended Mepham High School. He taught at Wantagh from 1974-78 and returned for good in 1988.
In the fall of 1990, Wantagh's regular announcer retired, and when no one else jumped at the opportunity, Bogatz volunteered. "I was apprehensive about it at first," he said. "It takes a few years before you get the script down. It's trial by error the first few years."
Bogatz's only previous experience in an announcing role was as a student at SUNY-Oneonta, where he had a short sports highlight show on the campus radio station. But time made him more comfortable as the voice of Wantagh, and his journey took him from standard play-by-play to incorporating his trademark trivia questions and announcing former Wantagh athletes at games.
"I bring a separate clipboard and have them sign in," Bogatz said. "I also collect rosters from past years, so I try to match the names with their jersey number and position."
Bogatz, who also announces basketball and special ceremonies for several other sports, has developed a script to ensure that each game goes as smoothly as possible. But that doesn't mean he's on autopilot.
"The script gives me the template, or the blueprint," he said. "But you have to be spontaneous, too. And you have to try to maintain equilibrium and be as cheerful for the visiting team as you are for the home team."