Nanih Waiya’s Gregory gets chance to ‘live the dream’ behind the microphone

By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal

Bart Gregory knew he was going to have something to do with sports after he graduated from Nanih Waiya High School in 2000, he just wasn’t sure what.
“When you play at a smaller school you get an opportunity to play all three sports — football, baseball and basketball,” he said. “When I got out of high school I was interested in doing something involving sports.
“The week after my final football game (as a player), Jerry Hill and Maurice Clay interviewed me at halftime,” he said. “I sat there with them the entire game. I just loved everything there was about it.
“Then Maurice asked if I wanted to ride with them to the games (they were doing for WLSM),” he said. “I did that for a couple of years, doing the stats for them. They let me read the stats during the half.”
During that time Gregory — who is currently assistant athletic director for annual giving for the Bulldog Club at Mississippi State University — attended East Central Community College and working on the beginnings of a degree toward his desired profession. “I was going to be a coach. That was one of the things I wanted to do,” he said. ” I was just broadcasting on the side.”
Once he left ECCC and attended Mississippi State he decided to get into turf management.
While at Mississippi State he continued to do sports broadcasts for high school sports, while following the Bulldogs sports teams. It was during that time that he took a bold step that would eventually lead him to his current gig as pre-game show host for MSU football and color analyst for baseball and men’s basketball.
“I would take some of my tapes to Jim Ellis (State’s current play-by-play announcer for football and basketball, but who was then mostly concentrated on MSU baseball),” he said. “I asked him if he would tell me how I’m doing. Jim has always been honest with me.”
“Bart is a guy who works hard and wants to do well,” Ellis said. “He doesn’t mind being corrected and he is going to be prepared.”
“I just asked if if there was anything I could do to help him,” he said. “During the 1999 baseball season he asked me to come sit with him at home games and chart pitches. I just listed to Jim and learned all I could.”
After graduating from State, Gregory looked to see if any of his contacts in the golf course business would pan out, but instead wound up signing on with Learfield Sports as an account executive.
He eventual did a few softball games and some women’s basketball and did some color with men’s basketball, but baseball is where his greatest concentration was at the time.
He remembers his first opportunity to do a baseball game by himself was against LSU. Ellis wasn’t able to attend and he was left at the controls.
“There was no doubt Bart could do it,” Ellis said. “You knew from the beginning that he was serious about it and wanted to do well and was willing to put in the time to do things the right way.”
Gregory said one of the keys is to be confident about what you are dong and to know what you are talking about.
“I learned a lot from Jim,” Gregory said. “Jim Ellis is probably the best play-by-play announcer in college baseball. He develops a relationship with the coaches and knows the team so well that he can tell you what’s about to happen in certain situations. He’s also taught me not to talk so much and just let the action come to you. Just tell about what you are seeing.”
Gregory started doing women’s basketball full-time about six years ago, that’s something he has since relinquished due to his increased duties in other sports.
“That allowed me to learn a lot,” Gregory said of being the play-by-play voice of women’s basketball. “As you get to game 25, you really know a lot about the team, both on and off the court.”
While in women’s baseball he carried the show, as a tandem in baseball Gregory and Ellis have to work together.
“The great thing that has made that easy, is we have been working in the same office for (several) years. He has become like a second dad to me,” he said. “You just begin to know each other’s tendency’s. You learn when to jump in, what to add and when to add it. The whole key is to allow the play-by-play to tell the story.”
One of his most vivid memories was helping legendary MSU voice Jack Cristil do the broadcast during the SEC Basketball Tournament when a tornado hit the Georgia Dome.
“We literally steady on the air for an hour, not knowing what was happening or what was going to happen.”
Gregory said the whole ride has been amazing for him and has been more than a dream.
“I tell people that I’ve never gone to work a day in my life,” he said. “I just love it so much. It is kind of crazy. I am just a country boy from Nanih Waiya. (Three) years ago I did a basketball game and I was two seats down from Dick Vitale and 18 hours later I’m riding a four-wheeler in Nanih Waiya. It’s great.”
The 37-year-old Gregory and his wife Jennifer live in Starkville and have three children — Ella Claire, Julia and Sims. She is the CEO of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. Bart is the son of Larry and Glenda Gregory.
Gregory said one of highlights of his career came last year when his father Larry was able to be with him during the 2013 College World Series that saw the Bulldogs make it all the way to the finals.
“That was great and something I will never forget,” he said. “The whole atmosphere was awesome. I’m just glad I could share it with him. It was the highlight of my trip.”