SAN DIEGO, CA – Possibly overlooked amidst the hysteria of Wild Card Weekend and last night’s Florida State BCS win, was the passing of a legend. No, not my Uncle Morty, who used to toss me in the deep end of the pool at the Nevele in the Catskills when I was 5. Though Morty was a legend for sure; the guy literally had broccoli coming out of his ears. And for a living he sold Schmates. How someone could make a living selling schmates was anybody’s guess – but he did. He looked like a less handsome Uncle Leo from Seinfeld…
We lost the great Jerry Coleman over this past weekend. If you’re unfamiliar with Coleman, he’s a guy worth knowing something about. Jerry Coleman was a four time All-Star 2nd baseman for the Yankees, earning 4 World Series Rings and a Rookie of the Year award in 1949. After retirement, he was the radio voice of the Bombers for 7 years, before becoming THE voice of the San Diego Padres for a mere 41 years. What was even more impressive about Coleman was his service off the field. Much like that other FSA favorite, Teddy Ballgame, Coleman served in the Marines in World War II and Korea. In fact, Coleman actually flew over 120 Combat Missions and did so in both wars. Coleman even came out of the broadcast booth one year – 1980 – and actually managed the Padres in Dave Winfield’s last year in SD!
Best known for being a Master of the Malaprop, Coleman nevertheless became known for many of his famous calls–my favorite being “Ooooohhhh Doctor!” A legend in many ways, we’ll miss you Jerry. This got me pondering the baseball announcers who’ve also left impressions on us through the years. Here is my abbreviated list of favorite baseball “calls” over the years. Not enough room for more than a few, but I’d love to hear yours.
Howie Rose… The game is over, “PUT IT in the books!” When the Mets have made a comeback, “We got a brand new shiny one!” And of course….“Matteau, Matteau, Matteau!” “One more mountain to climb, baby!” (self explanatory)
Ken “Hawk” Harrelson…K victim: “He Gone.” HR call: “you can put in on the Booooaaaard…yes!”
John Sterling...”It is high, it is far, it is…..gone!” “An A-Bomb, by A-Rod” “Yankees win….theeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees Win!”
Vin Scully…“High Fly Ball to Right….She iiiiiiiissss….Gone!” (Kirk Gibson, ’88 WS)
Jack Buck…“This is going to be a Home Run!” “I don’t believe….what I just saaawwwww!!” (Kirk Gibson ’88 WS) “Go crazy folks, go crazy!” (Ozzie Smith takes Tom Niedenfeur deep in ’85 NLCS)
Harry Caray… Any HR call. “There’s a Drive…It might be, it could be, it is…ahhhhhrrr!”
And leaving the absolute best for last…the late, great Bob Murphy. Murph was the mellifluous sound of my youth; a voice that could raise anyone’s spirits even, on the most depressing day of the year (yesterday, according to those who talk about stuff like that).
“Well Hi again everybody, what a beautiful day for baseball! Just a few high puffy harmless, cumulus clouds on an otherwise beautiful day!” We’ve got quite a pitching matchup between the Mets’ young fireballer Randy Tate and the always nasty Wayne Twitchell of the Phils.”
“A little roller down 1st, trickling….it gets by Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!!!”
Honorable Mention: The great Ralph Kiner, who to this day remains the one living bridge, the one living connection that Short Matt and I have that binds us to the Mets of our childhood.
The late Bobby Murcer… I always found Murcer to be humble, self deprecating and easy to listen to.
Tim McCarver… He was great in the 80s, OK in the 90s and a bit irritating recently. But if you wanted to learn something about Baseball, then he was the best. As knowledgeable and passionate as they came, to me he should be the raconteur emeritus for Major League Baseball.
Dishonorable Mention: Steve Zabriskie, who managed to weave every imaginable irrelevant statistic into his mediocre analysis. “In the last 4 games the Mets have played against the Astros, they’ve had two doubles against lefties who entered the game between the 4th and 6th innings and who were also having marital problems at home.” Horrid, and boring.
Please share some of your favorite “calls” and we’ll be sure to mention them in one of our new Podcasts. Listen for MY Bobby V impersonation, with a little Skip Caray thrown in for good measure. Happy New Year, Met fans!
Comment below and come back tomorrow for our Jerry Coleman… Angry Ward.