Thursday, April 16, 2015

Calling a Game with Sean

I had a guest analyst when I called a baseball game last Saturday: Sean Adams, who called the bottom of the second, bottom of the sixth, and top of the seventh with me.

I wrote about the experience, and posted the audio, over at HAN Radio, in my "From the Press Box" column.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Vin Calls Sandy

I've begged, pleaded, and implored people to listen to the most fabulous ten minutes in sports play-by-play history. Tonight, on the eve of Opening Day, I'm posting it again.

Sandy Koufax was perfect through eight innings against the Cubs on September 9, 1965. Only 29,000 fans were at Dodger Stadium on that night. Vin Scully was in the booth, calling the game on radio.

There is no video of the game. No full audio broadcast. Only the ninth inning. Why? Because not everything was recorded in those days, but "Vinny" asked the engineer to roll tape, as a potential souvenir for Koufax if he could get the three outs in the top of the ninth.

This is poetry. The mellifluous Scully, in his 16th year working for the Dodgers, at 37 years of age, went to work on calling the game in his usual style. There's no hype. There are no theatrics and histrionics. In fact, he chides Koufax at one point:
That’s only the second time tonight where I have had the feeling that Sandy threw instead of pitched, trying to get that little extra, and that time he tried so hard his hat fell off — he took an extremely long stride to the plate — and (Jeff) Torborg had to go up to get it.
There are other lines in this inning that simply give me chills.
The Dodgers defensively in this spine-tingling moment: Sandy Koufax and Jeff Torborg. The boys who will try and stop anything hit their way: Wes Parker, Dick Tracewski, Maury Wills and John Kennedy; the outfield of Lou Johnson, Willie Davis and Ron Fairly. And there’s 29,000 people in the ballpark and a million butterflies. Twenty nine thousand, one hundred and thirty-nine paid.
There had only been five perfect games in the "modern era" of baseball, and seven total prior to Sept. 9, 1965. Spine-tingling, indeed.
A lot of people in the ballpark now are starting to see the pitches with their hearts.
I would think that the mound at Dodger Stadium right now is the loneliest place in the world.
Finally, the coda:
Sandy into his windup, here’s the pitch: Swung on and missed, a perfect game!
Yes, we still believe in miracles. The Giants won the pennant. The ball still gets by Buckner. In the year that had been so improbable, the impossible happened. Holy cow, going going gone, and the waiting is over. All great calls (and many many more).

This is the one I tell students to listen to. It's just how you do it. It was transcribed on Salon in 1999.


 From left: Lou Gehrig, Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Greenberg. 

Check out that picture above. Look at them: Gehirg, Cronin, Dickey, DiMaggio, Gehringer, Foxx, Greenberg. Even non-baseball/sports fans know at least two of those names (Gehrig and Joe D., of course).

It was taken at the 1937 All-Star Game at Griffith Stadium in Washington. Look at that glorious NBC sign in the background. Incidentally, three radio networks broadcast that game (NBC, CBS, and Mutual).

You might know that every one of those players are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yet they are. Those guys aren't scrubs. They're among the best to ever play the game of baseball. Naturally I've written tons about The Iron Horse, and a few words about DiMaggio as well. Bill Dickey, by the way, is vastly overlooked.

For you non-fans, Jimmie Foxx was the loose model for Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own.

You probably know this, if you've read anything here, but I love this great game. My god, we've screwed it up incredibly over the years. The race issues were deplorable. The sport struggled with growth and competition from the NFL through the 70s (and it continues today). We've added playoff teams, and dealt with drugs (steroids, greenies, cocaine, etc. Go on. Look it up.). We're worried about pace of play and bringing the inner city back.

We had Black Sox and a gambling Red (just put him in the Hall of Fame, please?).

We have the Babe. The one and only. The single greatest, most important athlete in the history of sports. Yes, I know, Jim Thorpe, Bo Jackson, and others might have been better true athletes, but given everything involved, there's Babe Ruth and everyone else.

We've sold our souls too many times. Baseball shouldn't open at night, but ESPN's money is too much to overlook.

Yet tomorrow, in the day, with the stands full and the records 0-0, the lines will be painted fresh. The grass will be gloriously green. I wish a band would play, and we could recreate some of the openings of seasons past, but a voice will intone the starting lineups, and they will gather on those freshly-painted baselines. The anthem will be sung. A ceremonial first pitch will be thrown. There might be a flyover or some other special effect.

Then, as there has been since 1869 (the generally-agreed upon "first year" of Major League Baseball), a batter will step up to home plate. A pitcher - 60 feet, six inches away - will author a first pitch.

And there will be baseball. To me, for its history, grandeur, strategy - everything - it is the greatest game of them all.

Football is the national passion. Baseball is the National Pastime.

Give me 714. Give me .406. Sixty-one. Fifty-six. I wish we could have 1918 back, but time marches on. A fan knows what these numbers are.

Give me the billy goat. The Bambino. Curses real or imagined.

Give me those uniform numbers that we all know: four. Three. Seven. Five. Forty-two.

Give me The Mick. Jeet. Gabby. Dizzy. Daffy. Dazzy. Pudge. Yaz. Three-Finger. Blue Moon. Vida. Catfish. Bucky. Stan the Man.

Give me Willie, Mickey, and The Duke. Tinker to Evers to Chance.

Give me The Called Shot. The Homer in The Gloamin'. The Shot Heard Round the World. The Miracle of Coogan's Bluff. Those last two are the same thing.

Give me Ebbets Field. Forbes Field. Crosley Field. Now give me Camden Yards and Fenway and Wrigley. The Big A. Chavez Ravine.

Give me the corner of E. 161st Street and River Ave. The most famous address in sports history.

Give me the Royal Rooters and the Bleacher Creatures.

Give me 27 rings.

Give me those great quotes, from music to movies to TV and beyond.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game. "Luckiest Man."
“That's baseball, and it's my game. Y' know, you take your worries to the game, and you leave 'em there. You yell like crazy for your guys. It's good for your lungs, gives you a lift, and nobody calls the cops. Pretty girls, lots of 'em.”
―Humphrey Bogart
Give me Vincent Edward Scully. The man known as Vin. The man who learned at the side of Walter Lanier Barber, the Old Redhead himself sitting in the catbird seat, while the bases were FOB (full of Brooklyn).

Give me a Ballantine Blast. Tell me "It's Miller Time" or "This Bud's for you."

Give me Cooperstown (maybe in a little over a week from now).

I love this game. It energizes me. Engulfs me. Fills my heart, yet breaks it. It enraptured me for sure when I saw my first pro game in 1972 and a guy named Murcer doubled off another guy named Palmer. One is a hall of famer. The other doesn't need to be.

It made me cry when in 1996, my boyhood team won their first title in 18 years, and I couldn't share it with the one person I wanted to share it with.

Most of all, selfishly, give me a microphone so that I can broadcast it.

This is the beginning of my year. This is when I feel refreshed.

This is when I know that this horrible winter is over.

It's Opening Day.

Play ball.

Monday, March 30, 2015

I Can See Right Through That

In 1978, a budding superstar stepped to the plate in a tight baseball game and watched as a pitch hit the outside corner.

Strike three.

The young stud athlete cried, vowing to never allowed that to happen again*. The backwards K (the scorecard indication for a called third strike in baseball) was another red mark in an otherwise stellar year. One that featured three donuts.

My batting average was .000

Not long after, it was determined that my right eye - my lead batting eye - was weak. My father promised me a present for my first hit in the 1979 season.

I got glasses and I singled in my first at-bat. Pop and I went to Tom-Kat Sporting Goods in Mahopac and we mocked up a white T-shirt to look like a Yankees away jersey (number 55 on the back, of course).

I generally resisted my glasses (though insisted on having them on for my fourth grade picture). I'd wear them for my times at the plate in baseball, casting them away as soon as I reached first base on struck out (swinging).

For the record, I never did get caught looking again. I became a serious student of the strike zone, and knew how to work my way to a walk, though it stunned me when legendary coach Lou D'Aliso started batting me leadoff later in my illustrious career.

By 1984, I wanted glasses to be a backup, and worked my way into contact lenses, and oh what misadventures we had with losing them and breaking them.

In the early 90's, my left eye caught up my right and I was into wearing two contacts.

Within the last year, two things happened: 1) I ran out of contact lenses, and 2) I couldn't afford new contact lenses.

Then a little over a week ago, the trusty glasses that I had for roughly five years snapped on me. It was time for a change, and a reality check.

Yes. I'm 46, and my reading vision has deteriorated (I'm traditionally nearsighted). So it was time for a progressive bifocal lens. At the same time, it was time to shake it up and go to a plastic frame.

That's what you see above.

There might be some contact lenses again, but I've also had people tell me I look "better" in glasses.

Oh no. That's not supposed to be insulting at all.

Anyway, it will be nice to call a game with the proper vision again. Speaking of which, games begin ramping back up tomorrow. It's almost baseball season.

I can see clearly now.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Egg and Cheese Sandwich

My phone rang a short time ago, with the news that teen sensation Sean Adams wanted "one of
Daddy's amazing" cheesy egg concoctions.

Let's not get into why that news was delivered via a phone call. It would waste valuable brain cells.

So I went upstairs, grabbed the frying pan, plopped some butter in in, whipped two eggs, lightly toasted some bread (we didn't have rolls or bagels), threw a piece of cheese on the toast, laid the eggs on top, and it was done. His majesty asked for a piece of ham on the side, and I complied. I put my ham on my sandwich (after heating it up, of course).

Sean raved. "You really are a great sandwich-maker. You get the right consistency of the cheese, without overpowering the eggs."

Yes. That's a quote.

Yet there is nothing special about it. To be honest, I think my egg and cheese creations are terrible. I think a few people have gagged them down at one time or another.

The eggs aren't fluffy enough. I've dabbled with different attempts at adding flavor and the results have been, at best, tepid.

Still Sean likes them.


This Post Will Be a Dinger (Sorry, AP)

From the notebook of Rob Adams, once and forever "sh*tty reporter":

Deadspin reports that the 2015 Associated Press Stylebook,* of too many periodicals to count, is updating how sports stories are to be written.

* Yes, Bible is the correct term here. You would understand if you've ever been in a newsroom and heard some smarmy editor/reporter climb to the pulpit and, in their best "schoolmarm" voice say: "That is not proper AP style!" Incidentally, to be a proper schoolmarm (male or female, in this case, by the way), it is preferred that your rrrroll your "r" in "proper."

I've seen the performance. It's quite impressive. I too appreciate AP style. In my world, I would love all broadcasters to ascribe to the Barber/Scully stylebook, but to my knowledge, Gus Johnson is still employed.

OK, digressing here fantastically, let me return to the task at hand, since by now I've likely infuriated friends and colleagues, many of whom at this point either aren't getting the joke or are simply sarcasm-impaired.

Getting back on-point, I don't think I used the term "dinger" when I wrote baseball stories for Tim Murphy in the Wilton Bulletin (we, too, are adjusting style, so following along, I'm not italicizing publication titles anymore. Though I might. You never know.).

I tend to avoid too much slang (shockingly) when I wrote professionally because I thought, golly gee willickers, that it should be sort of "professional." Ergo, AP style!

I also don't think I've written "disaster" in regards to a loss, but I've abso-frickin-lutely used it on the radio. Because it is.

Then again, us sports radio "talking heads" are the lowest of the low. You know, at least a rung or two below a "sh*tty reporter."

I'm having fun with this, if you couldn't guess. It allows me to write with glowing snark and sarcasm, without unburdening the raging rapids of anger buried deep in the soul.

I hope no one is a wet blanket over this sockdollager. I'd bet a simeolean or even a sawbuck that the sap who came up with this malarkey is just a reuben or a rummy. But even the tomato I was just talking to says it's all on the up and up. All this hooey has me wanting some hooch. It's just that I need to be a little more hard-boiled, that's all. A fella needs a nice get-up to meet him a floorflusher. So come on, Daddy-o. Let's go have a whiz bang of a time and spend two bits to get a few ducats to watch the Babe hit a couple of whammers. It will be a hoot!

(Most, if not all of that jargon, came from this site. Fortunately the AP isn't give me the bum's rush.)

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Wilton Disappointment

Wilton High School's field house
They aren't disappointed in Wilton. Oh goodness, no.

The Wilton High School girls basketball team - the Warriors - won a state championship last week.

I'm the one feeling the disappointment.

We had a fun day last Saturday. Thanks to the weather, a combination of Eric Gendron, Chris Kaelin, Jake Zimmer and I called three hockey games at venerable David S. Ingalls Rink in New Haven. It's quickly become one of my favorites places to work. Oh the press areas are small and I had to climb over the counter to get into it, and there can be the awful mix of raging egos of fellow reporters and broadcasters, but I overall like it. There are people I enjoy seeing as I try to earn my spot (after a mere 18 years) in the club of Connecticut media.

We wish congratulations to EO Smith/Tolland, Darien, and Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks. Each hockey champion won fair and square.

There was, however, no basketball on our air. This is where you will find my disappointment.

In short, it involved contracts and rights and so on. Hopefully they get it sorted out because I wasn't thrilled to see the (at least) three other radio stations that were allowed to show up at Mohegan Sun, while we had to leave our mics at home.

I'm disappointed for Kato, John Kovach, Paul Silverfarb, and Nora Delaney. Each one was looking forward to calling a state championship game. I've called so many, and they're still a big honor, and a huge responsibility that I do not take lightly. Kato would have had the call for at least a couple of the hoops games. Those would have been his first championship play-by-play gigs.

They were simply not to be.

I'm disappointed because I wanted to see Wilton - those Warriors - attempt to win the Class LL title.

We had only just met a few days earlier. I was setting up for a boys game while they were on the floor, practicing, when they spontaneously broke into The Star-Spangled Banner. I stopped, respected the flag, then applauded. Of course I said "Play ball." Once an awkward idiot, always an awkward idiot.

As I walked past them, I said, "See you tomorrow night."

Then they went out and beat Stamford the next night. We followed them to their semi-final matchup against Mercy at Jonathan Law High School under a week later. They won 55-54, to advance to their first state championship game.

After it was over, I interviewed Eric Meyer, a Providence College-bound senior. As we ended the interview, I told her that we would see her at Mohegan Sun. I laughed and said the Warriors were 2-0 with HAN Radio in the room. Politely, with a laugh of her own, she said she wanted us there for the championship.

Then we found out we couldn't go.

What made me want to go? A number of things, but one of them was just how excited they were. As we know, girls athletics don't get the attention. They were pleased to see us (or at least they acted it). They came on with Paul Silverfarb and I on Nutmeg Sports two days after they won the title.

They also deserve that attention because they're a terrific basketball team, and the second best team in the state of Connecticut, regardless of school size.

I wanted to go because it was a story I wanted to tell. It's a team whose core grew up together, and now they were 32 minutes from being a state champion. I wanted to see Erica, and Haley, and Erin, and Makenna and their teammates play South Windsor.

They won, 73-45. John Miscioscla has more at the Wilton Bulletin.

They didn't need us there, to be honest. They can get the video from CPTV, and I'm sure it was a perfectly fine call. They'd likely never remember the polite radio people anyway.

That wasn't the point.

I wanted us to tell their story, along with those of St. Joseph, Notre Dame of Fairfield, Westhill, Fairfield Prep, and Bunnell (local schools, all).

Nobody will lose any sleep, of course.

That doesn't squash the disappointment.

Instead of going to Mohegan Sun Saturday night - instead of figuring out all of the logistics - we called our three hockey games.

I smiled as I reported the Warriors championship (along with St. Joe's, and congratulations to them).

Then I packed up and went home.

I'm sure the Warriors bus ride back from Uncasville was a far more exciting affair.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I grabbed my copy of the Darien Times Thursday morning, which featured an editorial by Susan Shultz, on the recent girls hockey game situation, along with overall thoughts about gender equality.

Before you roll your eyes, this isn't some kind of "I am woman, hear my roar bra-burning manifesto." Gloria Steinem is nowhere to be found. This is just a common-sense view of doing what's right.

I am so proud of this editorial, and how it looped into my overall vision for HAN Radio, that I hung it at my desk in Ridgefield. It's strong, powerful, and passionate.

I'm also honored to have inspired the editorial, but it is really more about the girls on those two hockey teams than it is about me. I'm a conduit, and nothing more.

It speaks of respect, a concept that will always drive me. I demand it - from others and from myself.

Anyway, it seems the story has died, and the two teams won't play a rematch. That's too bad.

Respect is more than an Aretha Franklin song. It's also harder thing to achieve than at first glance. It should be easy. It's not.

Guess that's about all I've got.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Route 106

Route 106 didn't go that way in '89. It does now.
Connecticut Route 106 winds from its beginning at US 1 and Interstate 95 in Stamford (near the headquarters of WWE, for you wrestling fans) through New Canaan into Wilton, where it ends at route 53. You can learn more about it at

It's a route number that I've been on many times, especially the parts around Stamford and New Canaan. I don't use the stretch between New Canaan and Wilton as much, because I never had the need, but there was one day I specifically remember being on it.

March 17, 1989. St. Patrick's Day.

It was a Friday, and I needed to do some shopping for a birthday present for Sean's mother. After finishing work in Rye Brook, NY, I decided I would go to Danbury Fair Mall before picking her up. I felt like I had some time on my hands, so I could take one of my interesting drives.

I hit the Hutchinson River Parkway, which becomes the Merritt Parkway once you enter Connecticut. Then I decided to take 106 from the Merritt to US 7 in Wilton. I found how 106 twists and turns from one road to another (including parts of Wilton, such as Belden Hill Road, that it no longer uses).

Once I reached US 7, I went straight to Danbury, did my shopping, moved onto picking up Sean's mother and proceeding with the night. I kind of wanted a quiet night, but she wanted to go out and at least take a drive. I felt like I hadn't seen my dad in some time, and a night at home would be nice. She won.

I had last seen Pop on Wednesday morning, when I let Bandit, my cat, out. My father was eating his breakfast in the kitchen, leaning on the counter as he always did. We exchanged looks, not even a word, and I went back to bed.

Dinner was nothing special, after all I was 20 and working in a mail room for General Foods. So it was Denny's in Newburgh, NY. From there we took a drive down US 9W from Newburgh to the Bear Mountain Bridge and got back to her house around 11 or so. Her father - never one to meet us - told me to get home.

I thought it was my nearly 93-year-old grandfather in Florida. He would die six weeks later.

I came home to cars in the driveway and garage as normal, but an empty house. A phone call produced the answer: my father was dead at 59 of a heart attack.

I've told the stories before. So much of the events after are crystal clear. Making phone calls. Watching college basketball all night before getting an hour or two of sleep.

I've talked about him here. Soft. Caring. Hard. Flawed. Strong. Great-hearted. Determined. Stubborn. The greatest smile. All among the tons of descriptions.

I carry the hurt of 3/17/89 in my heart everyday. I wish I could figure out why. I wish I could figure out how to truly get past it. I stand at attention during every national anthem, not moving until the last note is over. He hated the disrespect shown. He didn't like those who began to move or applaud before the last note. Heck, I struggle to move when I need to adjust a commercial during a broadcast.

Do like Orioles or Darien fans do, and insert yourself into the song? Oh no. No, no, no.

I still subtly point to the sky after that last note every time. That's for him.

With his parents, 1957.

St. Patrick's Day is still a day of bittersweet feelings. I want to smile and laugh and celebrate. I want to do something good to honor it create happy memories. Some years it's easy or happenstance. I was in Disney World one year. I was driving to Stratford-upon-Avon, England another year. I was out laughing and enjoying a frosty beverage with friends on another. I had dinner in Little Italy with my cousin and Sean and extended family member Brittany for yet another (yes, Italian food. Funny.)

Yet that same year, I knew things were changing uptown, and indeed I would be in a whole different relationship status a few weeks later. So it goes.

I love keeping my father's memory alive. I tell stories and I'm sure I've made a few of you say "Oh please shut up about him" from time to time. Again, so it goes.

I love seeing that son has picked up those eyes and that smile. It's a wonderful thing handed from grandfather to father to son.

My would be 85 now.

With some goofy kid, early 1970's.
I've had the reason to drive that stretch of Connecticut Route 106 a few times recently due to working in both New Canaan and Wilton. Just last week, I had to use it to get to a basketball game at Wilton High School. Because I don't drive it frequently, and because it was early March, the memories of that night, and of my dad, flooded my brain.

It's just a road of course. Yet when one of the very foundations of the connection between father and son is roads, and the countless hours we spent driving between New York and Florida, along with multiple other trips, it can begin to make a little more sense.

I'll wear some green today. Perhaps I'll have a drink to toast a man who never drank an alcoholic beverage in my life. I'll broadcast a basketball game later, and that will make me happy.

Then it will be March 18. St. Patrick's Day will be over. The Quiet Man won't be on TV. The beer, bagels, and everything won't be green (at least not on purpose).

Another day will begin, Spring will be here soon, and Route 106 will be just that.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.