Perhaps I should be ashamed that this is my first blog entry in months. But I’m not. Too bad.
So I was invited to a party last Sunday. (Yes, I do get invited to parties. I do! Okay, I wasn’t invited, but my wife was, and I got to go out in public.) Was talking baseball with one of the other attendees, an A’s fan of long standing, and he told me the anecdote below. Sadly, I can’t verify it, and I’m only going on what the A’s fan said and the way he said it, and even though it might lose its impact in words that you see onscreen rather than hear, here goes:
As Bill King and Ray Fosse sat beside him in the broadcast booth in Milwaukee, Lon Simmons was talking about baseball stuff when suddenly he stopped dead and said, “Uuuuugggggghhhh! An elephant died at the zoo!” Like the A’s fan, and like me upon hearing this story, you might be thinking, “What does that mean? An elephant? Is this some kind of baseball slang I haven’t heard before or something?”
“Oh my goodness, Bill! Those brats!,” said Simmons, referring to Milwaukee’s famous bratwursts. ”How many of those did you have?” And the next thing you heard was Simmons and Fosse making “ergh” noises and trying to get away from Ground Zero.
Now, how often do you hear broadcasters accuse their colleagues, rightly or wrongly, of emitting lethal gas? So obviously, if someone in my home and/or immediate family were to commit such an expulsion, which none of us would ever, ever do, the new expression of protest will be “An elephant died at the zoo!”
For some reason this reminded me of a Giants broadcast in which, returning from the break between innings, Hank Greenwald, after several seconds of dead air, made two “geh!”-type sounds, then an audible swallow of what, as I recall, turned out to be a sandwich. “My mother always told me not to talk with my mouth full, but I’m a grownup now and I can do whatever I want.”
Both stories, of course, pale in comparison with the now classic Ron Fairly tale from 1988, which the A’s fan reminded me of and which I seem to have recounted in EEEEEE! about four times: In what evidently was a boring game, Fairly told one of those old baseball stories—I think it was the one about the horse who visits Casey Stengel/Leo Durocher/Yogi Berra/Dave Bristol for a tryout: holding a bat in his teeth, he hammers pitch after pitch out of the park; in the outfield, he catches fly balls in his teeth, then drops them and boots them back toward the infield with his hoof; and when the manager in question asks if he can run, the horse says, “If I could run, I’d be in the Kentucky Derby!” Ah-hahahahahahahahaha!
Upon finishing the story, Fairly started laughing... and could not stop. I don’t know what was cracking him up, because it sure couldn’t have been the story. But eventually, as he’s nearly breathless with laughter, the crowd microphone picks up a fan yelling, “Get a hold of yourself, Fairly!” and then, later, “You should hear yourself, Fairly!” More silence from Ron, and then a snort and a “Hee hee hee!”
The A’s fan mentioned that Fairly and his partner, Wayne Hagin, didn’t get along, so Hagin just sat there, refusing to bail out his partner and pick up the play-by-play. I don’t remember being aware of any animosity between the two, but Hagin’s decision to stay silent would fit with what little I do know about the guy. I don’t miss either broadcaster, but I don’t miss Hagin even more than I don’t miss Fairly.
If you have deigned to read this blog entry and can think of some good broadcaster stories, I’d love to read them.