Cleat Geeks

Old School Saturday; Baseball Annoucers

The transistor radio at one time was as much a best friend as your dog.  Sure you could listen to the top 40 songs of the day on one, maybe two, AM radio stations but baseball games, that’s what Old School fans loved to listen to.  Night road games, when there was no T.V.  Listening to the call of the game and visualizing the action on the field. Looking silly when your favorite team did something good and you would let out a yell causing your mom to run into your room wanting to know what was wrong.

You formed a bond with your team’s announcer, both on radio and then T.V.transistor_865_mariner_485353

Baseball announcers were personalities, entertainers and as popular as the star players. They talked to you as a fan. Baseball announcers for the most part today are drab. Loaded with stat sheets, they spend the better part of the game throwing WAR, OPS, WHIP and a lot of other letters that Old Schoolers have trouble figuring out.

Old School announcers told great stories.  New School announcers quote lines from such things as “Seinfeld” or “Bull Durham.”

I will give credit to the announcers of today for respecting and paying tribute to the legends of the air waves. There have been many great announcers over the years but let’s talk about a few of them.

Mel Allen:  New York Yankee broadcaster from 1940 until 1964. The home team in the World Series provided the announcer for the games. The Yankees were frequent participants in the fall classic, so Allen’s call of the games were heard all over the country. His popularity as the Yankee broadcaster resulted in commercials and guest spots on T.V. shows. He also hosted “This Week in Baseball”, a show that highlighted the action for the week. Mel was famous for his “How about that” signature line.

Ernie Harwell:  Called baseball games for fifty-five seasons, forty-two as the voice of the Detroit Tigers. He retired in 2002 at the age of 84.  Known for the sayings of “He Kicks and Deals” and “It’s Long Gone”, with the emphasis on long.

Harry Caray:  On March 1, 1914, Harry Christopher Carabina was born. Baseball fans especially from St. Louis and Chicago, knew him as Harry Caray.  No announcer in the game was as colorful and entertaining as Harry.  His seventh inning stretch of  “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is still occasionally shown on the Jumbo Tron at Chicago’s Wrigley Field.  “Holy Cow” and “That wouldn’t be a home run in a phone booth” were signature sayings for Harry.  Harry worked twenty-five years for the Cardinals, one for Oakland, ten for the Chicago White Sox and his final sixteen for the Chicago Cubs. His son Skip and grandson, Chip, followed Harry into the baseball broadcast world.

Vin Scully:  On the final day of this 2016 regular season, Vin Scully, will leave the broadcast booth for the final time.  He will finish year sixty-seven of calling Dodger baseball. A career that began in 1950 with the Brooklyn Dodgers at rundown Ebbets Field to the 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers and the beauty of Chavez Ravine. From PeeWee Reese, Jackie Robinson to Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills to today’s Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw.Vin-Scully

Vin once called a ten inning national game for NBC on a Saturday afternoon then flew to Houston after the game.  The Dodgers and Houston went to extra innings and Vin took the mike and did the final thirteen innings of a twenty-two inning marathon. Twenty -three innings, two cities in one day!  Old School.  His golden voice has been heard by five generations of baseball fans.  A true legend in the broadcast booth, he will be missed.

Baseball has many memorable moments that we all recognize. Russ Hodges, 1951 call of New York Giant’s Bobby Thompson’s pennant winning homerun, “The Giants win the pennant.”  Jack Buck’s, Kirk Gibson game one World Series pinch hit homer, “I don’t believe what I just saw.”  Milo Hamilton’s call of Hank Aaron’s 715th homerun.

It’s hard to remember all the greats who called baseball games. Harry “Outta Here” Kalas, Jack “Hey Hey” Brickhouse, Phil Rizzuto, Chuck Thompson, Tony Kubek, Bob Elson and Joe Garagiola.

So today when you are watching your favorite team’s announcer talk about the radar gun and a player’s batting average against a left handed pitcher with two on and three ball, two strike count after the seventh inning, remember he is just reading off a sheet of paper.

I will remember listening on my transistor and visualizing that hitter who is at the plate with two on and a three ball,  two strike count after the seventh inning and hope he gets a hit. Don’t really care what the stat sheet says, the Old School baseball announcer will describe the action for me.

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