Baseball has vanished to the other side of the moon, not to reappear til March. My greatest memory from the 2013 World Series goes beyond the joy of watching Ortiz and Lester and Pedroia and Uehara -- exuberant phenomena that even a non-Red Sox fan could love.
The best baseball note of October came from David Waldstein of The New York Times as he tried to outrun the ubiquitous KMOX on Tuesday night. He got south of Memphis, into Mississippi, and that landmark AM station was still going strong, outlasting the game itself. Here’s the link:
The part I loved about Waldstein's article was that it celebrated the holy union between baseball and radio, as good as ever, late in its first century. What fan has not learned to love the sport from an hour or two in the car, listening to great chunks of a ball game, epic or mundane?
It’s one of the great relationships in American life – the ball fan with the gabby play-by-play broadcaster and color commentator. I have great patience with John Sterling of the Yankees because he fills that job description – a character, living memory, part of the act.
I can recall some epic games in the car:
- In 1946 my dad took a temporary job as a special-delivery mailman, driving around quiet corners of Queens. I’d feign illness in school, to go around with him, listening to the Brooklyn Dodgers, heading to the playoff loss to the Cardinals.
- Driving alone from New York to Chicago, circa 1965, listening to KMOX clear as a bell, as Lou Brock manufactured a run for a 1-0 victory over the Phillies.
- In 1991, my wife and I were driving to Florida during the seventh game of the World Series. As we hurtled south, we heard Jack Morris of the Twins pitching against John Smoltz. When the game went into the 10th inning, I would have been happy if it had gone 20 – we were pulling an all-nighter. When Gene Larkin won the game, 1-0, with a bases-loaded single, I felt desolate, just as I felt Wednesday night. The season was over.The link to that game:
The car radio delivers amazing events. I remember driving before dawn from Nashville to eastern Kentucky, in 1971, listening to a New Orleans clear-channel station, I believe WWL, 870 on the dial, describing the final hours of Mardi Gras. I remember driving from the Detroit airport to Pontiac for a World Cup soccer match in 1994, listening to WFAN, 660 AM, for the madness in Madison Square Garden as fans watched the eerie O.J. Simpson drive along the freeway as it unfolded on TV. On drives on Long Island on Saturday night, I used to catch the Grand Ole Opry on WSM at 650 AM.
But nothing suits radio better than baseball. It is now officially Off Season. If you pick up any ball games from now until spring training, courtesy of sun spots or time warps or dark holes, please let me know.
Any great baseball car drives you can recall?