Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My worst home run call

Yesterday I shared my best home run call. This was my worst. With a close second to follow.

It was my first year in the majors, with Baltimore. Now that I was in the “bigs” I figured I needed a signature home run call. So I came up “Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building!” I did it a couple of times the first week and it seemed to go well. Week two we were in Milwaukee. Late in the game. An Oriole swings and this is my home run call:

“Long drive to deep right. Yount goes back and ladies and gentlemen, Elvis is…off the top of the wall.”

My partner, the great Jon Miller, just put his head down on the console. I’m sure he was wondering “how did they ever hire THIS idiot?”

I wrote a book about my year in Baltimore and called it “It’s Gone!…No, wait a minute!” which unfortunately was my signature home run call in the minors. Often times in those bandbox ballparks with triple deck signage (most of it white and touting such prestigious concerns as “Rent-a-Wreck and Melman’s Mortuary) and bad lighting it was next to impossible to accurately call home runs. If the ball cleared the first level it was gone, below it was still in play. Even the players and umpires didn’t know half the time. I started playing it safe by saying “there’s a long drive to deep left field, it’s high, it’s deep, it’s time for station identification!” Fifteen seconds later when I was back I knew the outcome…usually.

One time doing a game in Rochester, there was a long drive to the wall. The outfielder leaped for it. I said, “He makes the catch!” My partner shook his head no and started twirling his finger. That’s the home run signal, but he didn’t know that. He thought he was signaling that the ball was still in the play and the runners were circling. So this was my call: “He makes the catch. No, wait, it’s a home run. No, wait, it’s a double.” This time I banged my head on the console.

Happy to say I did much better in the majors although to play it safe my home run call was and still remains “It’s Gone, I hope to God!”


Alex Epstein said...

I wonder in Pakistan if they say, "It's gone, ins'Allah"?

Lisa was on a plane headed for Karachi. They announced "We will be landing in five minutes, if God wills it."

A bit disturbing, if you're not used to it.

Anonymous said...

Ah, those years in old Silver (or Red Wing) Stadium in Rochester... The lighting was so bad for night games that if GPS units existed back in those days, the outfielders would have have needed them to find the dugout... Ken, in your visits there, did you ever see the pitching staff start a bonfire out in the bullpen in left-center field on a cold evening? They had no heat source out there, so they used to throw wood and trash into a 55-gallon drum, douse it with starter fluid and light it up to keep warm... I imagine more than one reliever arrived at the mound with second-degree burns on his upper extremities, and his glove looking like a filet mignon that was sent back to the kitchen about eight times bcause "it wasn't done"...

VP81955 said...

“Long drive to deep right. Yount goes back and ladies and gentlemen, Elvis is…off the top of the wall.”

Reminds me of John Sterling's inane "It is is is -- off the wall."

In all the years I listened to Phillies games, I'm not sure that ever happened to Harry Kalas. If he wasn't sure it would be a home run, he'd use a qualifier like "it's got a chance" before going into his trademark "outta here." But then again, comparing Kalas to Sterling is like comparing Edward R. Murrow to Ted Baxter.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken...I love your blog. My quick baseball story sounds like a made up urban legend type story but this really happened to me about 12 years ago when my son, Alex, was in T-Ball at the Pacific Palisades Park. You know T-Ball, Ken...all the kids are very young and so darn cute. They don't know much about the rules and it's probably the best time in kids sports because the parents haven't learned to yell at the coaches, refs or umps yet. Everyone just wants their kids to get out there and have fun.

I was coaching third base and there was this cute little 6 year old who had made it around the diamond and was now on third base and about to score. My son Alex was up at bat. I leaned down to the little guy and said, "Now, when Alex hits the ball and if it's on the ground you run home, ok?" He looked at me, jutted his chin forward to make room for the thought and said, "oh, ok." I said, "Yeah, this is going to be'll be the first on the team to score. I know you can run fast, right? So when he hits the ball, you run home as fast as you can." Alex hit the ball and I said, "Great...ok run" and I pointed to home plate. He hadn't seen me point to home plate because he had immediately turned away and started running into left field towards the parking lot. I ran after him calling his name, he stopped and I said where are you going? He said, "I'm running house is right over there." I swear really happened!!

Keep bloggin' Ken. All the best, Joe Cipriano

Anonymous said...

I'M jealous.
Before being drafter and serving in Vietnam and before I became Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's first Press Secretary in 1973, I wanted to be a play-by-play baseball announcer.
Irv Kaze, the early PR guy for the Angels, allowed me to go into the dodger stadium press box in 1964 and call the games on my tape recorder.
I still have some of it one tape...Albie Pierson in center field, I believe.
I just started a blog
Bob Kholos

Brent McKee said...

Red Barber said in his autobiography that he hated people who said "Going Going Gone" because what happened if the ball was caught. He prefered "Back Back Back." Of course Barber sometimes came across in his writing and public statements as a bit of a jerk. Just as an example he didn't like the famous "Giant's won the the pennant!" call because it was too emotional and didn't convey the information, presumably in the way a news reporter would. The trouble is that calling a sports event for radio is probably one of thase areas where emotion isn't a bad thing.

Anonymous said...

I'm still baffled as to how you got into two such different careers and how you managed to jungle them both, if at all.

- Allen

Ish said...

I liked the Harry Caray call, a regular late in his career: "it might be, it could be... it IS! A long fly ball for out number 2."