Last night, while I sat watching a show on the History Channel and listening to the Pirates beat the Marlins 5-1 at PNC Park, it occurred to me that I may have become my father. I was listening to MLB At Bat on my iPhone, but the scene was in every way reminiscent of our house in Pittsburgh in the 60’s. Back then, my father would have been listening to the game on the handheld device de jour, his transistor radio. That game-changing device was also at a similar point in the product life-cycle to the device that I was using. In the late 60’s we stopped adding the word “transistor” as an adjective and accepted that “radio” would suffice, just as we are starting to drop the ‘cell’ from cell phone. Perhaps the only difference between the scene in my house today and his house 45 years ago is the fact that he might have also been watching the game on TV. You see, in Pittsburgh in the 60’s you listened to the Gunner – Bob Prince call the game, my father would turn the sound off on the TV, and listen to that radio. Here in CT, stuck between AL powerhouses I almost never get the opportunity to see the Pirates on TV; that would take the Mets playing at PNC Park, or to an unlikely sellout crowd at Citi Field.
The truly amazing thing about listening to the game last night was how quickly I was reminded of the simple joy of listening to a ballgame. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but listening to baseball on the “radio” is an amazing experience and quite different from today’s modern options. I’ve “watched” football games on ESPN’s ScoreCenter Gamecast, and, in the absence of a good bar with Direct TV, they are OK, but baseball in that medium is just flat out boring. They jazz it up with a few nice graphics, but it doesn’t hold my interest. If you want me to pay attention to something visually, there better be a lot of action, and baseball can’t deliver action at the required rate. I know the kinds of things that are happening between pitches, but I can’t see them, and I can’t imagine them staring at a graphic rendering of a ball field. Listening to the game is great, because the announcer fills in the slow periods. In the audience of a good announcer, you can truly visualize the game because he brings you into the stadium.
The broadcast team today on KDKA is no match for the Gunner when it comes to catch phrases. There were no references to the Green Weenie, Babushka Power, cans of corn and no “you can kiss that one goodbye” but they filled the voids with interesting chatter. I was amused by the fact that the visual images I conjured up for last night’s game were from Forbes Field. I didn’t see a lot of games in that park, but I guess they are the strongest memories. I look forward to seeing a game at PNC Park and forming some new memories.