Despite battling pervasive developmental disorders, Tyler Jamieson is enjoying some sports moments most people only fantasize about.
How many sports fans channel their inner Harry Caray from time to time, introducing their favorite player or attempting some play-by-play in their best on-air voice? As the voice of Burlingame High School baseball, Jamieson gets to wield his own microphone and deftly commands the audience at Washington Park.
Is there any fan that hasn’t imagined what it would be like to experience how players soak up their fans’ adoration amidst a championship celebration? As a guest services employee of the San Francisco Giants for the past five years, Jamieson got to walk between the barricades during the team’s victory parade last November.
And any day now, Jamieson, 27, will enjoy a moment that goes beyond the wildest imagination of any sports aficionado. He is set to receive a 2010 World Series championship ring.
Tyler Jamieson was diagnosed with infantile autism and Asperger’s syndrome around the time he was 3. As he began to navigate a life of curveballs, he found he had a passion for sports and for numbers.
Though he describes the past as “sort of a fogged-up mind,” he quickly found a niche in high school that paired his two principal interests. As a freshman at Burlingame, he began keeping statistics for the frosh/soph boys basketball and baseball teams. The following two years, he took over scoring duties for varsity football, boys basketball and baseball.
Little did anyone know that initial involvement would blossom into a decade-plus run with the Panthers’ basketball and baseball teams that all parties agree has been a huge benefit.
“He is a big part of our program,” related Burlingame boys basketball coach Jeff Dowd, who also relies on Jamieson to update the program’s website and input statistics to MaxPreps.com. “If he ever leaves, we will have some big shoes to fill.”
Jamieson’s impact on the school’s baseball program has been much more public. Simply put, his personal touches have made ballgames at Washington Park the most fan-friendly in-game experience on the Peninsula.
Not only does Jamieson take advantage of the public address system with an enthusiastic announcing style that includes working in stats whenever appropriate, but at the start of the season he asks each Burlingame player to select an entry song, and then he plays that music before each of the player’s at-bats.
“We figure we’re pretty lucky, especially at the ballgame when we hear our walk-up music,” said recent Burlingame graduate Zac Grotz, who added he and his teammates on the baseball and basketball teams also enjoyed playing catch and shooting with Jamieson. “He’s always staying involved, so it’s like he’s part of the team all the time.”
El Camino baseball coach Carlos Roman, the dean of Peninsula Athletic League coaches, said visiting teams and fans appreciate Jamieson’s PA efforts.
“I look forward to it,” Roman continued. “It adds a dimension of professionalism to an already good baseball program and a great facility.”
Jamieson’s ease at the mike is all the more remarkable considering it flies in the face of his Asperger-related difficulties of being in the public eye. Asked to explain how he excels in what would appear to be a particularly challenging situation, Jamieson said he takes a lot of comfort in statkeeping while he announces.
“My gift is the power of numbers, and the curse is my social awkwardness. My gift is little by little helping me overpower the curse. I’m still a bit shy at first,” said Jamieson, who is also entering his 10th year as the football statistician at Foothill College, where he was a student for 2 ½ years.
“I guess my celebrity status takes over my mind. I know the way I’m describing it, it’s like I have a dual personality. When I’m at Burlingame, I feel pretty much down to earth, ready to chat it up with the guys. Otherwise I just shut myself in the dark on the computer.”
The respect and admiration the Burlingame coaches have for Tyler Jamieson is palpable.
Dowd said, “He is a great guy and means a lot to me.” The 14th-year boys basketball coach was excited that people beyond the Panther community would learn about such a dedicated and selfless volunteer.
Former Burlingame baseball coach Rich Sciutto, who retired in 2010 after guiding the Panthers their second Central Coast Section title in his 14 years, said Jamieson became “an icon” and moreover was a valuable member of the coaching staff.
Sciutto counted on Jamieson to tabulate his team’s playoff power points – alerting the coach of the Panthers’ standing relative to other contenders, whose power points he also calculated. Jamieson, who lives in San Mateo with his father, also handles many of the program’s media responsibilities – including reporting scores to newspapers.
Jamieson would always accompany Sciutto to the pregame lineup exchange with opposing coaches by home plate. During a game several years ago, Sciutto recalled handing Newark Memorial’s lineup card to Jamieson as they started back to the dugout.
“Within two seconds, he says, ‘Coach, you forgot your right fielder,’” Sciutto said.
The Newark Memorial coach looked back at his lineup, and said, “Oh, I guess I did.”
One of Sciutto’s favorite memories is of Jamieson creating his own awards – stat-based, of course – printing up the certificates and presenting them at the team’s annual banquet.
“The Tyler Jamieson awards, we called it,” Sciutto said. “He’d say, ‘Oh, we have a burglar in the house. He stole so many bases.’ Our players looked forward to it. And he’s funny. He’s hilarious.
“And then I get up there and I’m like, ‘Jeez, Tyler, I have to follow you?’ The kids love him.”
After Jamieson began working for the Giants – he is a ticket-taker and greeter at AT&T Park’s Marina Gate before games and a club-level usher starting in the first inning – he occasionally would need to miss a Burlingame game. But a reporter remembers one such occasion – an important Panther victory, as it so happened – when Sciutto’s mind briefly wandered during a postgame interview.
“I have to call Tyler,” the coach said. “He’ll want to know what happened.”
Jamieson is a lifelong Giants fan, and since his employment began in 2006, he has increasingly found that he has a second love. His current ambition is to secure an internship in the team’s media relations department – again hoping to tap into his interest in numbers.
But even when describing the thrill of walking up Market St. during the World Series parade, Jamieson couldn’t help but show that at the core, his heart still bleeds Burlingame red and white.
“It’s something I’ll remember my whole life,” he said. “Seeing all those millions of fans whooping and hollering, it’s just something you only picture in a dream.
“It ranks right up there with the varsity baseball team winning the ’04 CCS title.”