I had great fun last weekend doing the radio play-by-play for the Dodgers. But Spring Training is a whole different animal. At some point all the regulars leave replaced by a flurry of substitutes, most of them minor leaguers no one has ever heard of. It becomes that I LOVE LUCY episode when Lucy and Ethel get a job in the chocolate factory and they have to wrap the chocolates as they come down the conveyer belt. And the candy starts coming faster and faster. That’s Cactus League action. The entering players all have numbers like 86 and 94, a sure sign they’ll be spending the summer in Tulsa.
At one point in my Saturday game I announced that the right fielder was “Unidentified Milwaukee Brewer”.
After five innings the score is usually 3-2 or 2-1. Then the reserves get in the game and the final score is 13-11.
The wildest spring training game I ever announced was back in ’92. I was with the Seattle Mariners. We were playing the Anaheim Angels of California by way of Los Angeles. Their spring training home at that time was Palm Springs – a nice place for Sinatra to bang Marilyn Monroe but not for baseball. The stadium was old and rickety. And there was no booth for the visiting broadcasters in the dilapidated press box. So they set up a table in the stands. Forget that there’s no shade and you’re a mile from the sun, you couldn’t see half the time because people in front of you would stand up.
And then there was this…
I sat on the aisle. To my left was our engineer and to his left was my broadcast partner. It’s the 7th inning. The Mariners are rallying. I’m calling the action. I get a tap on the shoulder. It’s a vendor. Would I pass a couple of malts down the row? I do (all the while describing a run scoring triple). A moment later my engineer hands me money, which I pass on to the vendor. Now we have another hit. All hell is breaking loose . Guys are running around the bases. The ball is being relayed all over the field. And wouldn’t you know, I have to pass the change.
It’s all in a day’s work in the spring. Hope you can get out to a game sometime this year or in the near future. And for you folks in Europe and Africa, you don’t have to go to Arizona. You can go to the much closer Florida.