Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A little "chin music"

I’m back in Seattle calling games for the Mariners on 710 ESPN, MLB.COM, and Sirius/XM. A question I’m frequently asked is if I get to take batting practice with the players?

At the major league level, no. They sort of take batting practice seriously. And often, fans are invited to come out to the park early and watch BP and they certainly don't want to drive halfway across town to watch some yutz announcer flail around in the batting cage.

But in the minors things are a little looser. When I was broadcasting for the Syracuse Chiefs in 1988 I would occasionally shag fly balls out in the outfield during batting practice. For the most part I was horrible. Couldn’t catch a thing. But the team was very tolerant.

About halfway through the season I got up the nerve to ask one of our coaches if I could take a few swings. He said, “Sure. Grab a bat and a helmet.” I was very excited. I wasn’t wearing a uniform, but I donned a helmet and snatched a bat off the rack. In my blue jeans and polo shirt I was ready!

The coach who gave me permission trotted out to the mound to pitch to me. I climbed into the cage, dug in in the batter’s box, and prepared to drive that first pitch deep into the leftfield bleachers.

That first pitch comes… right at my head. I dive to get out of the way, just sprawling in the dirt.

Oh well. That must’ve just been one that got away.

I get up, dust myself off, wait for all the laughter to die down, then assume my fierce batting stance.

The next pitch comes. Same place. Right at my coconut. Again, I’m rolling in the dirt, sunglasses flying off my head.  The players are hysterical. 

Well, this happened three or four more times and I got the hint. That was the last time I asked to take batting practice.

Postscript: Our leftfielder made a bonehead play one night and our manager was so livid that when the player came back into the dugout the manager screamed, “You’re so bad even fuckin’ LEVINE is better!”

I, of course, took that as a compliment.


John said...

Well, at least they showed you enough respect to have a coach go out to the mound and throw at your head, instead of just setting up a pitching machine to do it ("I don't know what the problem is. Lemme adjust it one more time, and then it should be OK...")

Paul Duca said...

I'm sure there are OTHER situations where, indeed, fucking Levine IS better....

tb said...

You shoulda charged the mound, Ken! Go all 'Juan Marichal' on his ass