The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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Opinion

June 9, 2014

Today’s broadcasters reduce baseball to boring list of stats

An Editor's Notes

- — When I was a kid, my grandfather and I would huddle around the Philco, and in later years, a transistor radio, on the front porch at 1025 Emerson Ave. on warm summer nights and listen to Pirates and Indians baseball.

We were out there until 1 or 2 in the morning or later if either team was playing on the West Coast.

Grandpa was a big Pirates fan, but he’d switch back and forth and let me catch part of the Indians games as well.

The “Gunner,” Bob Prince, was the voice of the Pirates and his counterpart in Cleveland was the great Jimmy Dudley.

Both were wonderful baseball announcers who captivated your attention through their anecdotal broadcasting styles. They simply provided baseball vignettes, about current players and ones from the past, and filled the radio waves with colorful stories and commentary.

I was thinking about this recently while watching an Indians telecast and having to listen to Matt Underwood and Rick Manning fill the room with meaningless statistics, ad nauseum, one after another, on the verge of putting me to sleep. Although in fairness to Manning, he’s a former Major League centerfielder who at times tries to provide some anecdotes.

Their radio counterparts, Tom Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus, overall are better, but they too, get caught up in the numbers game far too much.

But that's the age that we live in -- computers spit out all of this useless nonsense, which is regurgitated by the guys in the booth.

Baseball has some of the most colorful players in all of sports, and when you think about it, there’s no reason for announcing to be boring.

It’s easy to sit there and fill the void with a bunch of statistics – this guy has this many hits during day games, but only this many during night games.

Don’t give me numbers give me a story. I long for the days (and nights) listening to The Gunner and Jimmy. Thankfully, I can still hear them and it reminds me what great baseball announcing is and should be.

Planes and people’s pets

I was flying to Birmingham, Ala. last week on Herald business, and while waiting at the gate in Pittsburgh for the short flight to Charlotte, N.C., a guy sat next to me and placed his carry-on on the seat next to him.

While I was eating a banana, I noticed him tapping on the carry-on and a bit later, found him leaning over and talking into it. Turns out that inside was a white kitten that started to act up and he was trying to calm the little guy. In a few minutes, he became the most popular guy at the gate, as adults and children alike flocked to see his cargo.

While waiting in Birmingham Airport for my return flight to Charlotte the next day, I noticed a crowd around a baby stroller. When I walked to it (surprise no baby) I found folks petting a toy Pomeranian that was waiting to board.

Both were testaments to the love people have for their pets, and to the growing willingness of passengers to welcome them aboard.

Mike Smith will be missed

I was saddened by the recent passing of longtime Sharon teacher and coach, Mike Smith.

Mike and his family and I go back a long way, when they were regular shoppers at the former Schenker’s Market on George Street in Sharon, where I worked behind the meat counter from the late 1960s until the mid 1970s.

Mike and his family lived a block away on the corner of South Oakland Avenue and Morrison Street. Mike’s wife is the former Jane Gibbons and the sister of former Herald composing room employee Tom Gibbons.

Mike was a standout athlete at Farrell High in basketball and baseball, graduating in 1951.

RIP, Mike.

Jim Raykie is the executive editor of The Herald. His column appears on Mondays.

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