As a kid growing up, my connection with the Giants wasn’t Bobby Bonds, Ken Henderson, or even Willie Mays, my connection with the Giants was Lon Simmons. His rich baritone, telling me the outfield was shallow, or deep, or the infield was at double-play depth, made me feel like I was at Candlestick Park on late summer nights.
There is no manual to broadcasting a game. Unlike going to work somewhere that has rules and regulations regarding how to make a sale, or input information into a spreadsheet, broadcasting a baseball game is an individual expression.
Thousands and thousands of games have been played over the past 80 years since games have been commonplace on the radio. Have all the broadcasts been good? Absolutely not. Are all broadcasters good, absolutely not.
Each broadcaster has a style that is as different as each game broadcasted. My “style”, I don’t know. Probably at times I talk about things that don’t make any sense, or become too critical of the play on the field. And to others, I’m probably too much of a homer. Just follow the twitter account of just about any professional broadcaster and there are far more people complaining than commending.
The past few days the Harrisburg Senators have not played very good baseball. They’ve pitched poorly, they’ve played poor defense, they’ve not hit, they’ve not hit with runners in scoring position, and for the past two games, they haven’t scored. This is not meant as a knock on the Senators. I know they are trying, I’m with them every day and I watch them work. No, rather, this is the ebb and flow of a 142 game season.
Saturday night at home they fell 19-9 in a game that wasn’t that close. Sunday they were shut out 4-0 on four hits. Which brings us to last night.
If you tuned into the broadcast at any point past the fifth inning you might have heard me talking about The World Book Enclyclopedia and the part of the book that dealt with the human body and the overlays. Or maybe you would have heard me talking about Apollo 11 and seeing the capsule on a national tour. Or maybe you would have heard me talk about the football stadium that baseball was played in for three seasons in Sacramento in the mid-1970s.
But no matter where my thoughts were taking me, a pitch wasn’t missed, each play was called, and the integrity of the game wasn’t compromised.
So you wonder why I would talk about nonsense? Well here’s why, because after scoring two unearned runs in the second inning, Portland scored nine runs in the fourth and sentfourteen batters to the plate. And the net result was that the Senators were shut out for a second straight game.
So instead of complaining about how bad they are currently playing, or ripping players for bad at bats, or over-analyzing a game that had a two touchdown difference, I opted for fun and nonsensical.
A listener wasn’t happy. Maybe more listeners weren’t happy, only one voiced their displeasure.
That’s okay. When I moved from the so-called “real” world into the world of broadcasting professionally in 2002, I knew people would be more likely to complain than commend, it comes with the territory.
Nearly every sports fan thinks they could be better than Joe Buck or Tim McCarver. There are people that couldn’t stand Ernie Harwell and people in southern California that won’t tune into Vin Scully. I am certainly not remotely close as any of the aforementioned broadcasters, just making a point.
Two or three weeks ago the Senators were involved in a blowout on the losing end and I had a listener email me the next day and say that my stories that day kept them listening, that the game was bad, but that the stories were funny and enjoyable.
I don’t know how much longer I will broadcast games on the radio, but I know that however long I do it and wherever I work doing it, fans will know I’m passionate about the team and that I care. Am I the best, most professional broadcaster around, heck no, I know that. However, if you listen enough you might find you enjoy the nonsensical.