Thanks to Dan and Steve, the Pawtucket Red Sox radio crew for inviting back to do a couple of guest innings Monday night, despite the fact that I was even more horseshit on the air than my appearance Saturday night.
But the experience has made me nostalgic for the three years I broadcast in the minors for Syracuse and Tidewater. So many characters but none more outrageous than the announcer for Louisville (who was replaced by a guy named Joe Buck). This guy, we’ll call him “Louie” had a big booming voice and a style that only can be described as carnival barker. Having crossed into middle age, Louie was still a big skirt chaser, although in those days he generally wound up getting girls in big skirts.
One day Louisville is in Des Moines. He meets some woman at the hotel and they arrange to rendezvous in the lobby at 11 PM after that night’s game.
Unfortunately, the game drags on.
The visiting broadcast booth is right next to the main area of the press box with an open window between the two. Reporters can easily hear the visiting broadcasters.
It’s 10:40. Going into the 8th. The game has at least a half hour to go, then there’s wrapping up the broadcast, shutting down the equipment, and getting back to the hotel. No way will Louie make his 11:00 tryst.
As the two teams are changing sides and the pitcher is making his warm up tosses, the reporters start to hear play-by-play coming from Louie’s booth.
“Bottom of the 8th, Jones up, swings at the first pitch. Fly ball to right. Krellman makes the catch. One out. Next up is Smith. He swings at the first pitch and hits a grounder the first. Two quick outs…” etc.
Louis begins MAKING UP the play-by-play. Sure enough, “his” game is over in ten speedy minutes and he’s out the door. Louie belongs in the “Chutzpah Hall of Fame” for that one stunt alone.
But there were many others. Among them: getting thrown out of a game by an umpire for ragging on him from the press box, getting thrown out of an NBA game and costing his team a technical foul when he did same thing during his brief tenure as the San Antonio Spurs announcer, getting fired from the Minnesota Twins for illegally promoting a drag strip nightly on the broadcast he had ties with, getting canned from a Cleveland sportstalk station for accusing a team of “Jewing down” a player’s agent, and last I heard he was doing TV weather in a small Midwestern town and was arrested for fondling some woman’s breast in a carwash.
As a writer, if you were to put Louie in a script your producer would throw it right back in your face saying he was waaaaay too implausible. And he’d be right…except in minor league baseball. Guys like Louie made all the nine hour bus rides, make up doubleheaders, and dinners at Shoneys worth it.