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Tacoma Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto got vaccinated for COVID-19 to protect himself and his family. Getting closer to normal has been fun, too.

Baseball is back at Cheney Stadium, and with it returns the iconic voice of announcer Mike Curto. 

The Tacoma Rainiers’ longtime broadcaster is behind the microphone again after the team lost its 2020 season to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Triple-A baseball came to Tacoma in 1960, and we’ve had baseball every summer since,” he said. “Not having it last year was pretty miserable.”

The Rainiers are a Tacoma institution. Or, as their marketing campaign succinctly puts it, they “R” Tacoma. Curto, who’s been calling the team’s games since 1999, may know better than anyone what the franchise means to the city.

“When you come to a Rainiers game on a nice warm summer night, you’ll see a lot of families with their kids enjoying the game,” he said. “Some people come out once a year. Others come out a dozen times a year and some even more. It’s just part of the summer for so many.”

Curto says he’s thankful for the COVID-19 vaccine and its role in bringing baseball back to Tacoma. As vaccinations in Pierce County rise, case counts are going down, and a return to normalcy is within reach. 

For Curto, it doesn’t get much better than sitting under a summer sky with family and friends watching the home team swing for the fences. 

“Now you can get vaccinated just about anywhere,” he said. “You can bump into it at our games—they have a table right in the stadium where you can get vaccinated for free.”

Mike Curto

Protecting yourself, and others.

The COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t just protect you from the virus, it also protects those around you. That was especially important for Curto. 

“I qualified for the vaccine early because I was caring for my family,” he said. “I was spending 4 days a week at my mom’s house in Portland, taking care of her and my older sister. I was down there basically living with 2 at-risk people.”

Those circumstances weighed heavily on Curto’s mind as he navigated his way through the pandemic.

“I got the shot as soon as I qualified and was able to make an appointment,” he said. “It was really important to me not to pass the disease off to my relatives.”

But that wasn’t the only reason he got the vaccine. 

“Being a caretaker definitely made it important,” he said. “But I also wanted to get it for myself. I wanted to be protected from COVID-19, and I fully trust the doctors and scientists that developed the vaccine.”

Bring on the noise!

Curto says his trust in science and medicine is at the heart of his decision to get vaccinated.

“I 100% believe in modern medicine,” he said. “Look at the big picture. Look at how many successes there are in medicine.” Every day doctors and scientists help people live better and longer. 

Curto knows some folks are waiting to get vaccinated, but that never occurred to him.

“We’ve had such success with other vaccinations completely eliminating other diseases that wiped out huge portions of our populations going back to polio and measles,” he said. “This should work out the same way.”

Curto credits the vaccine for bringing the cheering crowds back to Cheney Stadium. It’s a sound he missed last year when everyone stayed home. The latest guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention means Curto can also look out into the crowd and see people’s faces. For fans who have been fully vaccinated, masks can come off. 

“It feels so good to not wear a mask and to be vaccinated and not have to worry about it,” he said. “It’s been great to get back out on the road and start to experience life again.” 

On the road again.

Baseball, road trips and maskless living have arrived. Curto is looking forward to what’s next as more people in Pierce County get vaccinated for COVID-19.

“It’s great having baseball and people back at the ballpark,” he said. “It’s been a bit of a scramble because of the changing rules around COVID-19, but each time the rules change, it’s for the better. Right now,  the numbers keep improving as more and more people get vaccinated.” 

Curto even had a chance recently to return to one of his other favorite pastimes. Poker.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing live poker in a cardroom, and I didn’t do that at all, even though cardrooms were occasionally open,” he said. “I didn’t go there until I was fully vaccinated, and it was so nice to play Hold ‘Em with other people live—not on the internet—and to be able to talk to people again and socialize.”

Whether he’s playing cards or calling plays at a baseball game, Curto knows the value of having people around.  He’d be the first to tell you life’s joys are meant to be shared.

“I’m excited about the return of restaurants and taverns,” he said. “Baseball makes for some late hours, and our city has a lot of taverns with really good food. There’s a bunch of them around town, and just to have those places back in business and open later will be great.”

Find your dose. 

Find your COVID-19 vaccine today at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture. Everyone 12 and older is eligible. You can register online or just drop in at any clinic and get vaccinated without an appointment. 

If you need a ride to an appointment or can’t easily leave your home, we can help! Call us at (253) 649-1412, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 7 days a week.

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