Greetings from Glendale, Arizona – springtime home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. This is quite a magnificent complex. It’s like Frank Lloyd Wright designed a baseball stadium. In fact, this might have been what he was working on when he died. His last known sketches are of luxury suite designs.
This weekend I will be calling the radio play-by-play for the Dodgers. You can hear it on KABC Los Angeles, the vast Dodgers’ radio network, Dodgers.com, and MLB.COM.
I hope I get through the first batter. I almost didn’t on my very first spring training broadcast.
It was 1991, I had just been hired by the Baltimore Orioles. We were opening Spring Training in Sarasota, Florida against the Chicago White Sox. To say I was nervous is an understatement. I could have been one of those idiot teens at summer camp in FRIDAY the 13th.
I had broadcast three years of minor league baseball but those were on tiny stations with signals weaker than your home wireless router. Now I was to be on a 30 station network that blanketed the entire east coast. Gulp.
I practiced my opening for three days. When the time came I recited it verbatim and probably sounded like Sheldon in BIG BANG THEORY.
My partner was the great Jon Miller. After several commercials, the starting line ups, national anthem – I don’t know, I was terrified – Jon introduced me and I braced myself to begin the play-by-play.
First batter up was Randy Milligan. On the first pitch he hit a ground ball to third. Easy play for Robin Ventura who threw him out.
Randy tripped over the bag at first, did a header, twisted his ankle, and laid on the ground for a good twenty minutes. Now I had to fill. I glance over at Jon and he’s just gazing out at the field, mike turned off, a sly little smile on his face. The message was clear: “Okay, kid, you wanted this job? Let’s see what ya got.”
Usually you could recap the game or just reset the stage (talk about the standings, the pitcher’s past performance, the way the team is playing, what happened yesterday, scores from around the league, etc). but this was the first game. There was nothing to reset. We’re here. That’s it.
I have no idea what I talked about. How you need your ankles, the current weather (and ten day forecast), where to park if you should come down here, how far we were from Disneyworld, how successful was Operation Desert Storm – I dunno, it was all a blur. Somehow I got through it and managed to survive that first game.
So just in case, if you tune in to Dodger baseball this weekend and hear me reviewing this week’s AMERICAN IDOL, you’ll know why.