I grew up listening to baseball on the radio. Like many of us 40-somethings, we cut our baseball teeth with a transistor radio and in New England, the play-by-play of longtime radio fixtures, Ken Coleman and Ned Martin, with the third man in the booth being a former Red Sox legend like Mel Parnell, or Johnny Pesky. While there was plenty of Sox games being broadcast on television during the late 60s and early 70s (courtesy of Schaefer Beer, btw—“Schaefer is the one beer to have when your having more than one.”), it just seemed like baseball was meant for transmission via WHDH-850 AM, over a transistor radio.
The Red Sox radio team of Joe Castiglione and Jerry Trupiano were in the same class as the old Coleman/Martin partnership. Who could forget “Trup’s” classic call, “Swing and a drive! Way back, Waaaay back! Home run!” whenever one of the Sox players homered?
Of course, that call has been silenced, as Trupiano was unceremoniously let go, two weeks prior to Christmas, by New England’s team. After 10 years of stellar work forming one of baseball’s best play-by-play teams on the radio side, team president, Larry Luchino saw fit to bring in his own guys. Castiglione is still in the booth, albeit on a part-time basis, but the new radio personalities; Dave O’Brien, who comes over from ESPN, where he’ll continue to do games and the lackluster—no, fucking pathetic—Glenn Geffner. It seems as though quality and commitment to the integrity of baseball that Joe and Jerry brought to the booth are no longer in demand at Fenway, any longer.
This change has been bothering me since opening day, when, while driving home and listening to the amateurish Geffner, who reminded me of the hacks that call high school sporting events on low-power local stations found in rural parts of states like Maine, I had to call my buddy, who was watching the game on television and tell him, “turn the radio on!” He was like, “Why?” I told him, “Because the Red Sox have the worst announcer I’ve ever heard calling the game with Castig.”
I haven’t written about it until now, simply because I’ve been so busy and every time I meant to look up what happened to Trupiano, I got sidetracked, or pointed in some other direction of importance.
While O’Brien is passable, he sounds like just another “cookie cutter” announcer (epitomized by his lackluster call on Big Papi's homer today) that one finds calling sports on national networks, like the God-awful Fox baseball team of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
I’ve been finding it increasingly difficult to root for the Sox for several seasons, going back to 2002, when corporate milqetoast, John Henry (certainly no steel-drivin' man), purchased the club from the John Harrington and the Yawkey trust. I find that everytime Henry finds his way into the booth with Remy and Orsillo, I like the team considerably less. Henry, who epitomizes so many monied white males, who were the last guy off the bench on his Little League team and never played the game competitively after they were 12, reveal their lack of baseball pedigree every time they open their mouths to talk baseball. Of course, who the heck am I to criticize him, as his pocket change is probably greater than my total financial assets.
I know that Red Sox Nation (a corporate media driven commodity in its own right) continues to gain converts, particularly after finally winning the World Series in 2004, but with the team’s embrace of the corporate mindset that is professional sports, the co-mingling of NASCAR with baseball (Henry is a co-owner with Roush Fenway Racing) and the Trupiano incident, I think I’ve officially left the Nation for good. Add to that the fact that most of the team is a combination of right-wing, flag-waving Bush supporters and members of the “God squad” and I don’t find the Red Sox a very compelling team any longer.
It might be time for me to throw my allegiance back to the senior circuit and begin watching Braves games again (as I did through much of the 90s).