Radio brings games to life in special way
By By Austin Bishop / EMG sports director
Aug. 22, 2003
Flipping through piles of freshly flung files on a Friday while wondering whatever happened to Tommy Herr …
Growing up in a rural part of a rural state in a day-and-time when every sports event known to man was not televised worldwide by satellite, my radio became my friend.
I went to sleep many a night in the early '70s listening to Milo Hamilton call the Atlanta Braves game or Jack Buck telling me about the latest great play of the St. Louis Cardinals.
I was also a newspaper junkie. OK, I still am. When my relatives go off on vacation they don't bring me back coffee cups, T-shirts, spoons or thimbles. I get newspapers.
Why? Because that's what I ask for. I'm addicted. I guess ink really does get in your blood.
I became hooked on sports a little late in life. The exact moment came as I sat on a stool in an auto parts store in the Winston County city of Louisville, waiting for my father to finish gathering all of the goodies he was collecting that day.
I watched parts of the first game of the 1969 World Series between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Mets. The next day, I watched probably a half-inning of game two of the series. I thought it was a re-run. I really did. I was 11 years old, had never watched a complete sports event (including the T-ball games I played in as a 6-year-old) in my life and was clueless.
Then something happened. On Tuesday of the following week, I was sick and had to stay at home. I really was sick. No lie.
That afternoon as I flipped around the channels back then we had just three and one of them was PBS (to be honest, I'm still a little fond of Big Bird) I came across game three of the World Series. In the late '60s and early '70s all of the World Series games were played during the daytime.
Maybe because of boredom and maybe because of curiosity, and maybe because I just had three channels and had already memorized the Sesame Street episode currently airing and could recite it by heart, I decided to watch the game.
The world has never been the same. At least not mine.
Almost instantaneously I became a sports fan.
The next day I mysteriously came down with what I later found out was called by baseball fans and school teachers alike as "October Flu."
I really think they finally moved the games to night, not just to make a bazillion bucks from advertising, but to improve school attendance during the first couple weeks of October.
Today I watch my share of sports on television and certainly read every newspaper I can get my hands on (this includes front pages and editorial pages, but don't tell anybody it might hurt my image).
But radio will always have a special place in my life. It was my friend.
As I got older, I found out that our local radio station (WLSM in Louisville) carried high school football games. I never missed a snap, even when the Wildcats were thumping some poor Choctaw Conference foe by 40 or 50 points. I even wrote down the scoring plays.
I dreamed of having my name called out on the radio by one of the announcers, whom I thought of as sports heroes and legends. Little did I know that one day I would actually call the play-by-play for football games, as well as baseball, basketball and even soccer.
When I travel the roads on a Friday night or Saturday during football season, or just about any day during basketball and baseball, I constantly scan the radio dial, listening for anything that even slightly resembles a play-by-play call.
Picking up voices through the static down is an art form with me. My wife and boys call it an obsession. Oh well, you just have to forgive them for their lack of understanding.
If you scan your radio dial on Friday nights this season, perhaps you will find a few broadcasts that will challenge you to use your imagination as you "watch" the game from behind your steering wheel or from your favorite easy-chair.
To me, local sports belongs on radio. But remember, I come from a different time.