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Threshers Sound Man Helps Fill Games with Hits

Luke Hensley is in charge of all the sounds and music heard over the public address system at Bright House Field during games. Once, that nearly got him into trouble.

We've all heard them before, more so at minor league games than major league ones.

A player hits a foul ball. It's often met with a sound effect, maybe a whistle or horn.

A fan tries to catch a foul ball. Either he succeeds and is met with an upbeat sound effect or fails and gets a sound like a Let's Make a Deal miss.

This is no different at Threshers games. But who is behind the music?

At Bright House Field, it is Luke Hensley.

He is a student at St. Petersburg College majoring in business administration.

Virtually everything a fan hears from the public address system, short of  and advertisements, comes from Hensley's fingers.

He sits in the same booth as Guckian, right next to the press box in the upper deck along the left field line. Often the windows are open.

Sitting in the back row, nearly hidden behind a number of computer and TV screens and a soundboard, Hensley can be found, armed with a computer mouse.

Hensley got the job as the Threshers' sound man partly because of his love of music and technical experience. It helped that he also was an employee of the Threshers, working in the clubhouses.

Loaded in his soundboard and computer are hundreds of sounds and sound effects.

Hensley chooses virtually all the music he plays, short of the "walk up" songs that players choose for when they step to the plate.

All songs and sound effects must be approved by the Threshers management before Hensley can load the audio into a soundboard.

Even that doesn't always keep Hensley safe. Though he cannot remember the specifics (or doesn't want to recall the specifics), Hensley does remember a game when maybe having too much fun or too much of a sense of humor nearly got him into trouble.

There was a close play on the field that didn't go the Threshers' way. Hensley decided to play a clip to let the umpires know in no uncertain terms that they had goofed up.

It didn't go over very well.

"I didn't get thrown out," Hensley said. "But the plate umpire sure stared up here."

The staredown was enough for Hensley to realize he can have fun, but only within reason.

Hensley doesn't know how much longer he will be the Threshers' sound man. He would like to continue after he graduates from St. Petersburg College but doesn't know whether his job with the Threshers would get in the way of a full-time job after college.

“I’m going to do this at least until I finish my degree,” Hensley said.

For Hensley, the soundboard is just as important as the scoreboard.

Ground balls: Though the Threshers are currently in fourth place in the Florida State League's Northern Division, there's nothing to sweat yet. It's still early in the second-half season, and the Threshers are only two games out of first place.

If anything, the second-half division race should be fun. Currently, just two games separate first place from last. Dunedin and Tampa are tied for first, Daytona and Brevard County are tied for second, and Clearwater and Lakeland are tied for last place.

The Threshers continue to have one of the better pitching staffs in the FSL. RHP Julio Rodriguez is tied for most wins with Lakeland's Jared Wesson, with nine. RHP Jonathan Pettibone is tied with five others with eight wins. RHP Jarred Cosart has seven wins.

Offensively, the Threshers are struggling, short of 1B Darin Ruf's bat. The Creighton product leads the FSL in doubles (28) and is fourth in hits (91).

On deck: The Threshers finish off a four-game series against the Jupiter Hammerheads at 7 p.m. Monday.

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