“The wind… and the pitch to Bench..change hit in the air to deep right field, back goes Clemente, at the fence, she’s gone! Johnny Bench, who hits almost every home run to left hits one to right and the game is tied.”
It was a long drive home from Marion on Sunday afternoon and while everyone else in our car napped away, I passed the time as I drove by listening to what has affectionately become to be known in these parts as the “Reds on Radio.” Of course, I listened to yet another loss but that wasn’t what I was thinking as I traversed the 150 or so miles.
As I listened to the Sunday broadcast, my mind kept drifting back to broadcasts long since past. The first lines of this column may be my favorite home run call of all time. Many of you recognize it coming from Game 5 of the 1972 National League Championship Series and many of you as you read it put the voice of Al Michaels with it. Michaels was the Reds play-by-play man in 1972 and I still get chills when I hear that call. (I was at the game by the way too.)
“In the dirt, it’s a wild pitch, here comes Foster..the Reds win the pennant!”
Many of you of my generation plus a few years can actually recall what a transistor radio was and you can remember spending those lazy summer nights sitting outside listening to major league baseball. I can actually go all the way back to Jim McIntyre as the first Reds play-by-play man in my memory, but then we were all spoiled by Marty and Joe. What a treat it was to sit back and listen to those two banter back and forth about Joe’s tomatoes and many other subjects far from the game at hand, helped us forget some pretty bad Reds teams in the 1980s.
“He levels the bat a couple of times, Show kicks and he fires…Rose swings…Get down! Get down! All right!…Hit number 4,192 a line drive single into left center field”
Will we ever forget Joe Nuxhall being the Reds most famous cheerleader? Or how many balls landed in right left center field? I will always have a special place in my heart for “Nuxie”, remembering how good he was to me when I sat in front of the broadcast booth at Al Lopez Stadium in Tampa oh those many years ago. Do you ever stop to think how lucky we have been in Reds country to have had Marty and Joe, and to still have Marty? I heard their work described on the radio a few weeks back as the “soundtrack of our lives.” I certainly couldn’t have said it any better than that.
I know we are all biased towards the Reds announcers, but in my lifetime I have been pretty fortunate to have been able to listen to some pretty darn good announcers in all sports. I grew up with Pat Summerall, Tom Brookshier, Charlie Jones, Jim McKay, Dick Enberg, Curt Gowdy, Lindsey Nelson, Joe Garagiola, Tony Kubek, Bob Costas, Keith Jackson, Dick Stockton, Al McGuire, Harry Caray, Harry Kalas, Don Criqui, and many more. I might even include Howard Cosell on that list. I certainly loved his boxing calls in the 1970s. Down goes Frazier!
“The Giants have the tying run at second base and Bobby Thomson up there swinging…Branca throws..there’s a long drive, it’s gonna be I believe..the Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!
Of course, those of us in Big Blue Nation will never forget the work of one of the best basketball announcers ever in Cawood Ledford, who is as much a part of the UK basketball legend as any coach or player. My love for Notre Dame football sprang mostly from the Sunday morning Lindsey Nelson highlight shows. One of my favorite football announcers of all time was also local. Do you remember the name Phil Samp? Marty has spoiled local baseball fans but sometime use all of the technology at your disposal to listen to Vin Scully or the hilarious Bob Uecker.
“You’ve got 10 seconds, the countdown going on right now..five seconds left in the game..do you believe in miracles? Yes!”
Nostalgia seems to be the theme of many of my columns. I guess the older you get, the more you think back on things in life that brought you enjoyment. I hope that when you read these meanderings of mine that you drift back yourself, if only for a moment. The columns are posted on my Facebook page weekly and I love to hear your feedback, your thoughts on the subject, your memories, so feel free to share. Until then, though, grab the cold drink of your choice, dig out an old transistor radio and some batteries, find a comfortable spot, and just listen to a ball game and let the memories take you away.
“This is the old lefthander, rounding third and heading for home, good night everybody.”
Mark Carpenter is the Sports Editor of The People’s Defender and can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.