Hello, Old Friend


It's been many a year, dear old friend...

Last night was an exciting night for baseball fans everywhere, both casual and die-hard.  We were witness to one of the most poorly played but dramatic games in World Series history.  Talking heads everywhere today will be trying to find the angle on this game, arguing whether St. Louis rose to the occasion, or whether the Texas Rangers choked.  I, on the other hand, would like to focus my attention on the medium through which I enjoyed the game, that of my old friend, the shitty AM radio.

Fall is a time for harvest and anyone who has ever helped with the harvest or helped on the farm knows that you make hay when the sun shines and you get the crop in before the weather goes to hell.  This means a lot of late nights in the tractor or the combine or my personal favorite, the straight truck.  Any three of these things were bound to have one thing in common for the family farmer, and that commonality is a crappy old crackly factory stock AM radio, which in the hot days of summer offer up a steady dose of political rhetoric (barf) and or an even steadier dose of Conway Twitty and Charlie Pride.  But in the evenings, if you where lucky not to be tucked under a hill with piss poor reception, the AM radio could transform a dusty tractor cab into a dugout seat at any number of historic ball diamonds around the country.

This is where I learned to love the radio baseball game, especially World Series games.  There are very few things as exciting as a great game with a great announcer, crackling through the air waves while you unload a wagon of corn or wait for the combine to make another pass.  I remember listening to the San Francisco-Oakland series when the quake hit.  I remember Jack Morris throwing ten innings of domination.  I remember how pissed off I was when I heard how Kent Hrbek pushed Ron Gant off the bag to tag him out.  Maybe my favorite moment was listening to Luis Gonzalez’s walk off single against Mariano Rivera, when the Hated Yankees finally lost.

But maybe my favorite moment came last night.  I worked late, and thought about busting it home to catch the end of the game.  I checked my smart phone for an update and the Rangers were up 7-5 in the ninth.  I didn’t think there was much hope for dramatics, so I took my time wrapping up and finally got in the car to leave, and when I turned on the radio I heard the announcer calling for extra baseball, after these.  I couldn’t believe it.  So I listen on the way home and Josh Hamilton crucified the first pitch and gave the Rangers the lead.  As I pulled into my driveway, the Cards were threatening, so I sat there, in my drive, listening as Lance Berkman tied it up.  I could have gone inside to watch the end of the game. I could have grabbed a beer and sat on my couch and watched Joe Buck limp his way through a telecast.  But instead, I found myself drawn to my old friend, the crappy, tinny, crackling AM radio, and Dan Shulman and Oral Hershiser (who pitched beautifully against Tony LaRussa’s A’s in 1988) bringing not just the game, but the excitement and energy through the airwaves.

~ by maxaverage on October 28, 2011.

One Response to “Hello, Old Friend”

  1. We are kindred spirits in this regard.

    My first date included finishing out the Royals-Red Sox game on 960, my earliest memories in the combine were spent listening to the Cardinals-Twins games in the 1987 World Series, tuning into a Scottsbluff Royals affiliate while watching a Rockies game in Denver, and I have spent countless hours listening to greats like Jack Buck, Bob Uecker, Harry Callis, and of course, Denny Matthews.

    XM has driven away the static in the speakers and worse yet, improved TV deals for small market clubs like my Royals have driven me away from that.

    But one loves to pull in a signal in the evening while driving and hearing the faint crowd noise and the count being given by Denny on command.


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