brewers baseball and things

only the cracker jack gets old

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It’s never easy to walk on snow, especially after it’s been smoothed over by a hundred human feet. It’s a cartoon nightmare, being chased and forever slipping, going nowhere. Time for sedation. Time for Number 9 on Internet Audio ArchivePhil Rizzuto’s play-by-play from Fenway Park, Yankees-Red Sox, August 16th, 1958, 10 years to the day Babe Ruth passed away.

“Baseball names fade away,” Rizzuto says, “But the Babe will be one of the last to go.”

Fade away? If I forget Von Joshua, Kent Tekulve, Bob Galasso, Dick Davis, what is the porpoise of a GPS? Who needs a destination! I’ll sit in the dark.

“Williams struggles against Don Larsen,” Rizzuto explains. It’s apparently a timing issue and I trust Rizzuto. He says Larsen never pitches from the wind-up, but with a runner on base, he has to slow down, come to a complete stop, sneak a peek at the runner, keep him honest. Larson gets real deliberate and so the timing of Williams returns and so does the law of averages. The splendid splinter drives in the first run of the game, a deep sac fly.

It’s 4:30 pm. I’m not really walking in the snow, more like sliding, I’m almost home, but don’t really want to be there.

Jimmy Piersall dances off first base a few innings later and keeps dancing. Rizzuto takes notice and so does Larsen, his mind so messed up that Casey Stengel screams from the Yankees dugout, “Get the batter. Forget the runner.” But Larson doesn’t listen.  He walks the opposing pitcher – Tom Brewer on four pitches. It’s the third inning. 

Radio is radio. Probably hasn’t changed since August 5, 1921 when the Pirates beat the Phillies 9-5 and Harold Arlin of KDKA Pittsburgh brought fans not really there…….there.

Teleportation?

It’s getting dark and I wish Jarry Park was still in Montreal and some guy named Billy Eau Claire would drag a fold out lawn chair and AM transistor radio up St. Laurent Street and recline where first base once was, for 2-3 hours and move to a new spot the next day and continue counter-clockwise every successive day, around an infield that didn’t exist, an outfield too, a place for pinch hitters as well, defensive subs, a starting rotation, set up and long man, closer, and every 25 days, a cycle of recline would be complete and Billy Eau Claire would start over….a Jarry Park Mirage,
root root rooting for the tree,
for the home team, 

a beggar with open palms.

And local kids would find out about Billy Eau Clair like they would find out about death and they would brave bad weather to go and see this curiosity sprawled out on a lawn chair. Billy would be glad to see them and talk about extinct teams and his favorite kind of donuts and the swimming pool on the other side of right field at Jarry Park. 

“where Willie Stargell performed magic tricks,” Billy would explain. “Every time Stargell stepped to the Jarry plate, the pool emptied of people, scattered ’em like roaches.”

The kids would move closer to Billy’s lawn chair and Billy would feel energized, a vampire with new blood.

“Stargell was already part of the city’s collective DNA by that point,” he would continue to say. “After hitting a few bombs into that pool, swimmers were scared, bump on the noggin cartoon scared.”

And the kids would forget why they came in the first place. Billy would read it on their faces like braille.

“Why not replay entire seasons,” Billy would then suggest or insist. “Blast broadcasts from megaphones rigged up on street corners, game after game, a serial summer in the middle of winter, in the middle of now here or there, time melting in the wind.

The kids would know this to be impossible. Billy would too. There would be 154 games to collect, 162 from 1962 onward, too many, but the obstacle would be delicious, activate their Hunter and Gatherer gene. There would be back alley trades.

“Give you the first five innings of Rizzuto 1958 for a Bob Uecker 1986 – Danny Darwin’s complete game against the Angels.

I eventually made it home. Recharged my MP3 player and somehow fell asleep. Morning arrived. I didn’t feel free. I never do. There’s a river to cross. I forget what color, but there is number 12 on internet audio archive…the first ever Mets game, a cockadoooodledooooo to another day,
April 1962,
WGY Schenectady,
Sportsman’s park, St Lewey, Mizoooo-eeee. 
Bob Murphy calling the action, the first inning anyway.Roger Craig is on the mound for the Mets. Don Zimmer at third and Richie “put the cigarette out before bed so your Ash don’t burn” Ashburn in center field at the definite twilight of his career, his 15th and final year and what a year it would be, at 35 years young, almost 400 at bats, a .306 average and .424 OB%. I love expansion.

Minnie Minosa is in the batting order, for the Cardinals and Chicago is in Houston to “play the Colts,” says Bob Murphy. I guess he forgot about the .45s. They never had an apostrophe. It’s only the bottom of the first. The left field fair pole is 350 feet away from the plate. Right field pole only 310. How many home runs did Musial hit at Sportsman’s Park? Solly Hemus is a coach for the Mets. He used to manage the Cardinals. What a name….Solly Hemus….like the name of hamburger. Give me a Hemus with all the toppings.

This could go on forever. I gotta get to work. It’s never easy to walk on snow but it does seem easier with headphones.

 

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Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

16 thoughts on “only the cracker jack gets old

  1. Amazin’.

    I’ve heard both those games, by the way. The Phil Rizzuto one from 1958 and the Mets debut.

    This is great writing.

    Just one thing, though. Grammatical error. It’s Minnie Minoso, with an “o” at the end, not an “a”.

    But let’s not worry about the typing. There are too many typers out there today, nimrods and bimbos who are so adept at typing 5,000,000 words per minute while sitting on the subway while texting with their silly hand-held devices. Being able to type and being able to write is like the difference between “fucking” and “making love.”

    You, Steve Myers, make love with words. Yes, that’s a pretty corny analogy.

    Glen

    • Thanks Glen so we trade the Sa for a So and that makes SaSo and almost Sosa. I liked Sammy Sosa despite the bovine growth hormones he drank. And the little bit I know about Minoso I like alot. He was always part of the great trivia question, only player to appear in five decades. I think Nick Altrock appeared in four. Apparently there’s also one of those horizontal curly cues atop the n in his name so it’s Miñoso Minyosa sounding.

      It’s great to actually hear Bob Murphy. You previously talked about him Glen and praised his broadcasting skill and I’ve only listened to two innings of this game, but I’m enjoying the sounds of Mr. Murphy for sure. Solid voice and he lets the crowd noise have its say as well. Next up we gotta find a full broadcast of Herb Score. Did he do radio as well as TV?

      Sex with words….What’s the sexiest letter? Maybe S because of its curves or how abut the letter O? It is a hole after all.

      • Steve, remember that Indians game that you sent me in the e-mail about three weeks ago and the game was from somewhere between 1982 and 1984 (I don’t fully remember the year) with Herb Score taking turns with that other guy? (The other guy was quite good, as well.) Well, the two of them were actually broadcasting on 3WE, which is what people called WWWE in Cleveland, which carried the Indians games for years. Somehow, the person who posted it on You Tube was able to put the video of the game so that it exactly coincided with the audio. Anyway, there’s your answer! Herb Score did radio exclusively, or at least he did in the 80s. I started listening to the Indians games in 1986 in my backyard while throwing the ball against the back wall of my house. (The house was made of brick, like Jack Brickhouse, which brings up another famous baseball announcer). I think that my next door neighbor thought I was nuts, a 25 year old guy playing baseball by himself, wearing a Cleveland Indians cap and listening to the Indians on WWWE. WWWE had 50,000 watts and, ironically, it was at 1100 on the AM dial, and WBAL in Baltimore was 1090 on the radio dial, and they carried the Orioles, and sometimes the two stations would get crossed up, so for ten minutes at a time, I’d be listening to the Indians game, and for about 20 seconds here and there I’d be listening to the Orioles game coming in from Baltimore. Aaaaah, the great years of baseball, before corporate greed destroyed it.

        Glen

  2. I agree, Steve. It’s hard now to imagine these things slipping away. Kids will always remember Glenn Beckert, Paul Popovich, Phil Regan (The Vulture) and Jim Hickman. Why were we listening to Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau call the games on the radio if we were going to forget?

    • Thanks Bruce. I would love to get my hands on a season’s supply of Cubs radio casts from the early 80’s. I would even volunteer to listen to all 162 games and count how many times Harry Caray sang a new Jody Davis song…”catcher without a fear, catcher with the long ball swing.”

      • I don’t know about in the 80s, Steve, but listening to this Cardinals broadcast of 1962, I prefer Jack Buck over Harry Caray. Maybe you’ve heard this one. I don’t like it when announcers on radio try to create excitement. That’s what Caray seems to be doing here. I think that more low-key is better. Caray gets a little carried away with himself on this broadcast, trying to inject excitement where there is none.

        Harry Kallas, doing the Phillies games on the radio, tended to do the reverse. I loved his voice, but he tended to say too LITTLE between pitches. Then he’d go nuts when a Phillie hit a home run. But there was just too much dead air between pitches with Kallas announcing. On Phillies games, I preferred the underrated Andy Musser.

        As for Vince Lloyd and Lou Boudreau, I never got to hear them, unfortunately, when they were doing the Cardinals games.

        My father loved listening to Mel Allen doing the Yankee games on the radio. I’ve heard tapes of both Mel Allen doing Yankee games and Red Barber doing Dodger games, and I think that there’s no contest, that Red Barber is my favorite radio play-by-play guy of all time. He was low-key, whereas Allen was a little too hyper, in my opinion.

        Steve, did you ever hear Bill White doing Yankee games on the radio? He was one of my favorites, even though I hated the Yankees. And he never tried to make a dull game seem exciting. He just told what was happening on the field.

        Glen

        • Oh, this is freaking great Glen! Thank you. You know how You Tube includes other videos you might like in the side bar? Well, with this Giants Cardinals broadcast you posted, which is priceless in itself, there are three or four other ones I’ve never heard before and one 20 minute video, a color video, of the last game at Sportsman’s Park. There’s enough fuel here to last until April. Thanks again!

          Yeh, Harry Caray is maybe the definition of Homerism. Him and Ken Hawk Harrelson, but I find them both to be entertaining in their own way. One of the many things I loved about Mr. Caray was his willingness to become distracted and discuss off the wall subjects or waste away minutes pronouncing player names backwards. esseJ ocsorO was one he loved to say and with as many years as he pitched, Harry had countless opportunities to do so.

  3. I’m just afraid someday that huge WGY signal tower will come down one day and squash a bunch a bunch of Kias and Hyundais on the Thruway, and Kurt Vonnegut no longer here to wax poetic about the Electric City.

    • I worry about too many shiatsu massages as well. Mellow everyone out to the point of no more throwing garbage cans through windows. The riot potential vastly diminishing.

    • WK, WGY is dead, owned by, I think, Clear Channel or one of those conglomerates. WGY is dead like most radio stations. The station may be there and the tower but the station is as bland as all the other stations, thanks to deregulation and greed.

      I don’t remember seeing the WGY tower on the Thruway, but I do remember often seeing the WROW tower while driving by it on the Thruway. WROW was an “easy listening” station back then, playing Montavani and the Ray Conniff singers and stuff like that and also Percy Faith and his singers and orchestra.

      Glen

  4. It’s terrible that we live a billion miles away. Prob be good drinkin’ and listenin’ porch buddies. Cheers. Great write up as always.

    • Thanks Gary. Yes, the porch! I remember a story you wrote I think last summer, listening to the A’s game and describing scenes on the street passing before your eyes. That was a memorable post.

  5. I finally clicked on your avatar pic to get a look at what it is, and I’m a big fan of it. The watch with the baseball in the middle — ironic in that baseball has no timeclock, and yet perfect for the history that surrounds the game. And the baseball cards surrounding these like the numbers of a wall clock.