Dudley Reflects On 40 Years With Turks

When he was 15 years old, Curt Dudley rode his bike five miles to downtown Norfolk to watch his friends play baseball in the Azalea Little League.

Dudley pedaled from the outskirts of the Hampton Roads-area city and arrived at a baseball and softball complex that had a little press box at each field equipped with public address announcing equipment.

There wasn’t anyone to do the announcing, so Dudley figured he’d give it a shot. He sat in the press box on stilts and was given a stack of note cards with each little leaguer’s name, number and position. He turned the microphone on and announced each batter as they came to the plate, not knowing it would lead to an almost lifelong profession.


Fast forward 46 years later, Dudley’s voice is still booming through speakers at a baseball field, just now it’s with the Valley Baseball League’s Harrisonburg Turks, an organization he’s been a part of for four decades.

“There was something inside me that said I wanted to do it,” Dudley said of public address announcing. “But nothing inside me said you’re going to do it for that long.”

A Bridgewater College graduate, Dudley didn’t break into the Turks as the team’s announcer, rather he started off at the team’s official scorekeeper in 1983 right after he graduated from the small, private college.

The Turks scorekeeper Earl Shirky, was a Harrisonburg High School graduate in his 50’s, but his vision began to deteriorate and the team needed somebody to replace him. Once Dudley was approached about taking over, he was interested, but as a recent college graduate, he needed it to be paid to make it work.

When Shirky told him it paid $10 a game, Dudley was sold. A few years passed by before Dudley began using his recognizable voice on the speakers, splitting the duties with local radio host Mike Shikman.

The following season, Dudley took over as the full-time PA voice of the Turks, a position he still holds to this day as he enters his 40th season with the organization.

Being with the same collegiate summer baseball team for so long, Dudley has seen the organization evolve. It went from being owned by Jim Lineweaver, a local bail bondsman, to its current owners, Bob and Teresa Wease.

“When Bob took it over, it became much more family-oriented because it was another business for his family,” Dudley said. “It was a general manager, one-man show, to a family organization.”

Dudley introduced music shortly after taking the reins in the press box, adding a little bit of an environment to the Turks’ game days, he said.

Bob Wease, who’s been a part of the Turks for 32 years, called Dudley “big time.”

“It’s great to have a guy like that, you can depend on when they’re announcing the game, everything’s going to be nice for the fans,” Wease said. “He’s the best announcer in the Valley League. He’s very good, very professional.”

Outside of his public address announcing duties and running the music, Dudley also mentors the Turks summer interns. Dudley said that’s one reason why he keeps coming back each summer, helping mentor James Madison, Bridgewater College and other college students through the summer with the baseball field as a classroom.

“You’ve got this team on the field and I’ve always had a team in the press box working with me as well,” Dudley said. “That’s one thing that brings me back to it all.”

Through the years, Dudley said he’s been able to see former interns move on into their professional careers, some in sports and some outside of sports. Kevin Warner, JMU’s associate athletic director for communications, spent one summer as an intern with the Turks.

“That’s really what the bottom line and the end result is in all of this — seeing those folks do well and watching their stories,” Dudley said. “We’re in this profession because we tell their stories, but once you meet these people, you watch their stories.”

Through the years, Dudley has seen the Turks evolve as an organization, the former interns launch their careers and the regulars that attend each game.

But for the 61-year-old Norfolk native, whose career began inside a small little-league press box, the Valley Baseball League games keep him busy using the sport he grew up playing.

“I just enjoy it,” Dudley said. “It would be nice to take the full summer off and not have to worry about weeknight obligations, but I think I’d get bored if I didn’t do that.”