Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Sounds of Baseball - Can You Feel It?

Baseball is America’s pass time. Sure, through the years and the growth of technology it has had a more difficult time staying on top of the cultural landscape but to those who have either been in the bridge period and have experienced both the electronic age and the days where it was not uncommon to only get 1 game a week on TV or only be able to enjoy baseball games on the radio using the skill of the broadcaster and your own imagination to really appreciate how special the game is. It is a game with distinctive sounds that is en grained in us. Whether it is from the voices on the radio like the icons from the past like Ernie Harwell, Jack Buck, Mel Allen, Harry Caray, Red Barber and Vin Scully. Baseball just seems to have its own personality and also be home of great personalities.

"If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there is a man on base."
– Dave Barry

I recall the sounds of the game while listening to Blue Jays Baseball with Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth on the radio. At the time it was the main source of play by play that you could get. Jays games were covered well on radio and were available. You were lucky if CTV had a Sunday and maybe a Wednesday game on, but that was VERY RARE. There was usually a game of the week but unless you were a Yankee’s fan that was all you were going to get. It was regional games and that was your region.

I then got cable and that was the beginning of more exposure. More exposure and more games led to more variety. It was then that I began to embrace America’s team as my own and they quickly became my favorite team. These were the Atlanta Braves. It was the TBS Superstation that had a big part to play in this. It was a team that had its own network and was shown all over and had just about every game (granted the 14 consecutive division titles didn’t hurt either). They employed 4 of the classic voices that I now associate with baseball. The late Skip Carey, Pete Van Wieren, Joe Simpson and Don Sutton.

For me it always comes down to the sounds, the sounds of the game and the music that is associated with it. It is strange how a few chimes of music can take you back to a simpler time, a time when the most important thing was turning a double play or getting that timely. The Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Chop, and various ‘pump up the crowd organ music. The theme music when certain players enter (eg. Chipper Jones and Crazy Train or Mariano Rivera and Enter Sandman). Perhaps even to a lesser extent OK, Blue Jays. The intro to Blue Jays Baseball, The MLB Theme from FOX, the Sunday Night Baseball Theme from ESPN and the one that takes me back to when I was just a kid the theme music from TWIB (This Week In Baseball), that still sometimes gives me goose-bumps. Oh, and let us not forget the most famous of them all... ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame’.

"Why does everybody stand up and sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ when they’re already there?"
--Larry Andersen

Even music from baseball movies have a special feeling to them and their ties to the game. The music from The Natural-when Roy Hobbs hits that epic home run. Just about every 3rd scene from Field of Dreams. It seemed that even the background music from that move made you "feel baseball". Even hearing ‘Wild Thing’ and seeing Charlie Sheen with those skull black glasses.

"Baseball statistics are like a girl in a bikini. They show a lot, but not everything."
-- Toby Harrah

In a game that is more a game then a sport it has captivated fans and has survived the test of time. Sure there has been many a dark day but they always seem to get through it. The 1919 Black Sox scandal, the exclusion of negro players and how long it took for those ballplayers to not only get to play but actually get a fair shake. Now, more then anytime before the cloud over the game has cast a very ugly shadow. Steroids, Amphetamines , HGH, PEDS have tainted the purity of the game and it is just now looking to be getting clean or cleaner the cheats are always a few steps ahead of the good guys.

Just remember:
"A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz."
-- Humphrey Bogart

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