Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My worst home run call EVER

With Spring Training underway, I thought I would share my world home run call.  Even if you're not a baseball fan, if you are a fan of me making an ass of myself, you should enjoy this.

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, Dan Hoard (now he voice of the Cincinnati Bengals and Bearcats) 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!”


Tom Quigley said...

Rochester's and Syracuse's ballparks (Red Wing/Silver Stadium and MacArthur Stadium, respectively) were built at about the same time by the same architect I believe and resembled each other in both design and dimensions. The only place where an outfielder would have had a chance to jump and catch a potential home run from going over the fence in Red Wing Stadium was in left field, where the fence was low enough. The right field fence was probably nine or ten feet high, and centerfield was dominated by the scoreboard which was probably a good three stories high and only a few home runs had ever been hit directly over it.

I remember going to a number of Red Wing games when I was young and there was an elderly man who came to every game named Red Smith (no relation to the sports writer) who wore an old fashioned straw hat and a suit and would get up out of his seat and announce the name of the relief pitcher who was coming in to take over, asking the crowd to give him a big hand. Naturally the crowd ate it up and enthusiastically applauded and whooped whenever it happened. Ken, glad you had the chance to experience the quaintness and Americana of minor league baseball here.

Diane D. said...

Hilarious! I love your baseball announcer stories.

Before my son started playing Little League baseball, I loved to go to the occasional Major League game, but I had never really picked up the lingo. I was at a Cubs game with a friend who (after being momentarily distracted) said, "Did he pick him off?" Having no idea what that meant, I said, "Did who pick whom off what?" That section of the bleachers got quite a laugh and I felt like a complete fool!

Diane D. said...

Loved that story, Tom Quigley! I would give anything to live in a town with a minor league baseball team. It is indeed one of the few places where one can still experience genuine "quaintness and Americana."

Curt Alliaume said...

I just bought your baseball book a month ago and have been enjoying it.

LouOCNY said...

My sister has lived in Rochester for almost 40 years now, and so I was lucky and was able to experience games at Silver (nee Red Wing) Stadium.

Why Silver? A brief Red Wings history:

The Rochester Red Wings was one of the many ball clubs Branch Rickey bought when he was buiding his farm system in the 20's. For 30 years, it was of the TWO AAA (then called AA) clubs the Cards owned - so Rochester fans got to see a parade of future stars play on their way to the bigs - like Marty Marion, John Mize, Stan Musial, and so on. Then in the 50's as the baseball was starting to get hurt by TV, they decided to shut the Red Wings down. A local businessman named Morrie Silver rallied the city, sold stock, and was able to buy the ballpark, and then persuaded the Orioles to make Rochester THEIR AAA team. Thus, Rochester ans got see 40 years of Orioles stars go through town - Boog...Palmer....got to see Cal Sr manage, and Jr to play there. Weaver managed there couple of years. So of course they named the ballpark Silver Stadium.

One of the great things about Silver, was that the clubhouses were just off main concourse, so the ballplayers had to go through the stands to get to the field! And if there was a long rain delay would sometimes hang out by the exit to watch the rain....very cool...

Anonymous said...

Have I mentioned the time I beat up Shelley Long and Nancy Travis with a baseball bat?

DrBOP said...

Best sports quote ever....

"If you can't play a sport.....be one."

And of course sad news about Sam's passing....but dude lived a life, didn't he? In one of the quotes floating around, he referred to perhaps considering buying a baseball team at one time; but deciding to put his fortune towards animal rescue and low-income food programs instead. Would you know if he seriously considered buying a team?

And then that began a fantasy scenario of a team wholly-owned and run by comedy writers. Spring training would become more pilot-like, LOTS of hilarious re-writes, and just THINK about the press conferences :+)

(And you and Bob Uecker in the radio booth would be choice!)

(Oohhh, oohhh....got the "beer ident" captcha clearance.....FUN!!!)

Anonymous said...

The home run call reminds one of how the Beatles named Hard Day's Night -- supposedly. After being in the studio for many hours, they were leaving when Ringo was talking about what a hard day's work it had been... he said this as they were leaving the building and when the door opened he could see that the day had turned to nighttime without realizing it. So a 'hard day's work' became 'a hard day's... night."

I am sure everyday such statements are made but the genius of Lennon was to quickly understand the wordplay of such a sentence. Also a (good) writer's job.

Baseball/Simpsons question: Did you get a chance to work on the episode where the power plant fields a softball team full of ringers? When Montgomery Burns is giving the signals to the batter as the 3rd base coach is one of the best scenes ever on that show -- it is so ludicrous yet it makes one realize the absurdity of the 3rd base coach's signals to begin with. That is hard to accomplish.

I'd love to see a sketch on SNL or something similar where a regular office has someone standing at a spot in the office just giving out signals --some meaningless mixed in with the real one, some wiped off and re-started. Cleats optional.

Mike said...

There was a game last year where everyone in the stands is celebrating a go ahead three pointer, and I think including the shooter. However, other players are not high-fiving him and instead just walking off, because the shot was actually out. It was short by a foot, but managed to swish the net.

mskenny said...

Ralph Kiner's home run call was "going, going, gone!" But sometimes he would be a bit premature with it and you'd get "going, going, go...ing to be caught."

joekiddone said...

It's not a home run call, but this from Jerry Coleman is still a favorite: "Winfield goes back to the wall, he hits his head on the wall and it rolls off! It's rolling all the way back to second base. This is a terrible thing for the Padres."
ps- It's a delight to have stumbled upon your blog!