Monday, November 24, 2008

Baseball On The Radio: A Dying Pastime

Does anyone listen to baseball anymore?

Yeah, I meant to emphasize the word.

And when I say listen, I mean on a radio -- not through some fancy-shmancy streaming Internet connection.

Hey, do they even make transistor radios anymore? That question, I suppose, should be asked first.

I'm not a radio listener, per se. I must confess that. If I'm not in the car, then the radio isn't on. And since I work from home mainly, my time spent in the car has even dwindled. So I'm one of the guilty parties here.

Some of my fondest memories from being a kid was of my dad, listening to the Tigers as he knocked off his "honey-do" list. It was a weekend afternoon, and the comforting sounds of Ernie Harwell and Paul Carey were soothingly in the background as the lawn was mowed or the shrubs trimmed. It all emanated from a transistor radio of some sort, likely precariously perched on a picnic table or a window ledge.

But it wasn't just my dad at home. I seem to recall the Tigers being on radios all over the place: in the car next to ours at a traffic light; at the local soft serve ice cream joints; at the gas station. Everywhere, Ernie and Paul's voices would be murmuring in the background. It didn't matter that you couldn't make out exactly what was happening. What was important, was that the game was at least on, for someone's consumption.

Folks would take their transistors to the beach, or the park, or anywhere, really. And they were taken for one reason, and one reason only: to keep up with their Tigers. They certainly weren't packing them along for the news or the weather, or some such nonsense.

It's hard enough to get today's younger fans to watch the Tigers, let alone listen to them. The TV pie has been cut into so many slices, they're as thin as Catholic hosts at Communion. Too many options. Then there's that damn Internet -- with their "game casts" that involve sitting in front of a monitor and watching, in silence, the play-by-play occur, in words and symbols. The Net truly is amazing; it has somehow come up with a way to keep track of the game without watching or listening to it.

I know it's odd to think about baseball on the radio the week of Thanksgiving, but I'll pretty much take anything to draw attention away from the Lions, you know?

When was the last time you listened to the Tigers, when you weren't in your car? I tried it a couple summers ago -- plugging my boom box into the outlet outside the house and blasting the game as I trimmed things in the backyard. It was OK -- not as good as Ernie and Paul, but not bad. Maybe if I'd do it more, Dan Dickerson would grow on me. His partner, Jim Price, grows too -- but like mold. He's another story.


Blogger Michael David said...

Of all of the sports, I think baseball is the best to listen too. Ernie made you feel like you were right at the ballpark. I listen to the radio at work, but other than that, unfortunately, not much. I also remember my dad carrying a radio around with him listening to the games.

5:51 AM  
Blogger xman said...

I still listen to the Tiger games often. In fact, on many occasions, I prefer to tune in the broadcast in the middle of another task or over a beer on the back porch.
Obviously, we're all listening in the car, but that's beside the point.
Kudos to Dan Dickerson for a job well done in filling Ernie's shoes, not to mention those of Paul Carey, my personal favorite.
That said, can we PLEASE jettison the horrific Jim Price?? I think Todd Jones might be a good prospect...

12:55 AM  
Blogger Greg Eno said...


I like the Todd Jones suggestion. I think he'd be terrific. Of course, he probably wants to spend time with his family, and being a radio guy kinda defeats that purpose. Not that Price is going anywhere, sadly!

1:05 AM  
Blogger Deaner said...

Excellent post! I must say that I am probably one of the last members of my generation to listen to baseball on the radio - I'm 28.

Over the past 3-4 years, I've been a huge supporter of XM radio. It has been a godsend because no matter where you're living, you can always listen to your "home team." It's an interesting way of transgressing geography.

I find your car vs. backyard comment interesting because most of my radio listening, as a child, was not done in the car but on a old radio that my dad kept in the garage. I would turn up the volume so that I could hear Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall broadcast the Reds game while in the backyard.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Greg Eno said...


Ahh, Joe Nuxhall, who just passed away about a year ago, correct? Thanks for your comment! I love the visual of you cranking that radio up in the garage!


5:56 PM  
Blogger Deaner said...


You're right. The Old Lefthander just passed away a year ago in November. I still, however, have Marty Brennaman (and his son Thom).

In addition to Nuxie, the baseball world has lost several great voices over the past year or so - Skip Carey and Herb Score.

8:17 PM  

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