MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) — Growing up in Middletown, WFAN Yankees reporter Sweeny Murti says his family was one of the few Indian families in the community, but a love of baseball brought him lifelong friendships, a career and a powerful reminder.
“It was a little challenging there to fit in but sports is a great equalizer,” Murti said in an interview with The Sports Extra Podcast. “You end up whether its playing or watching and talking about it, it’s kind of a common ground.”
Murti’s love of baseball began as a player in Lower Swatara Little League, and was spurred by his childhood favorite team, the Philadelphia Phillies. Murti was in 5th grade when the Phillies won the World Series.
Following baseball was ingrained in his life, as Murti’s father, Vedula, shared his own love of the game. The retired Penn State Harrisburg Assistant Professor of Economics immigrated to the United States in the 1960’s and quickly developed a love for America’s pastime.
“The radio was always on in our house, always,” Sweeny remembers. “This love of radio was just kind of bleeding into my life.”
As Sweeny began to look for other avenues to express his love for the sport, broadcasting became the next best option to playing. A friendship with WINK 104’s John Wilsbach inspired Sweeny’s first step into the career field, broadcasting Middletown High School football and basketball games, while Sweeny was in only 7th grade.
“When you’re on the air, you’re a professional,” Sweeny remembers of his time on WMSS-FM. “This is a real broadcast going out and we treated it that way. [To] combine a love of baseball and statistics when I was 12 or 13 years old, [was] where I got the bug.”
It was that bug that took him to Penn State to study broadcast journalism, after graduating from Middletown High School in 1988. His first job was back in Harrisburg at WHP 580, Radio PA Network, then his career took him to Philly before he landing permanently in the Big Apple. His first stint at WFAN was in 1993 where he was remained ever since, with a short stay at WIP from July 1997 to 1998.
“I see the great athletes that I’ve covered say there’s another game tomorrow, can’t get too high, can’t get too low,” Sweeny said of what he’s learned in his time in the business. “So celebrate whatever it is or wallow in whatever it is, and just recognize that there’s something else tomorrow. That’s helped me in this job, that’s helped me in my life.”
Sweeny covered the last 13 years of Derek Jeter’s historic career and learned something else from the shortstop.
“In his mind and his heart, he was this little boy who grew up in Michigan wanting to be shortstop for the New York Yankees,” Sweeny said. “I am not comparing myself to Derek Jeter, but I’m going to tell you that I understand and recognize [a similarity]. I was a little boy in Middletown and I now work at the biggest radio station, covering the biggest team, and I’ve done it for over 20 years.
“I don’t need to win any awards or Hall of Fames,” Sweeny continues. “I’m not in the class of Derek Jeter, but I recognize that one little thing of this is what he wanted to do as a little boy and he got to do it.”
As did Sweeny, who says he would tell himself one thing if he could go back to 7th grade.
“I didn’t grow up to do exactly what I wanted to do,” Sweeny said. “I wanted to be the Phillies announcer; I wanted to be Harry Kalas. I didn’t get to be them, but I got on a little bit of a different track headed to the same place and I got to do this. I don’t know if I would give him advice, I’d probably just whisper in his ear keep going, keep going. You’re going to like it.”
To listen to the full podcast episode with Sweeny Murti, click this link.