Vamos Gatos

I’ve been in radio broadcasting for more than 40 years. I did radio news for several years and had the opportunity to interview people such as Warren Spahn and many political leaders, both in New York state and Massachusetts. I’ve done my folk music program, “The Hudson River Sampler,” on WAMC since September 18, 1982, and did a folk show in Worcester, Massachusetts, prior to moving to New York’s Capital Region in 1979.

But one thing I’d never done was to sit in a radio broadcasting booth and made comments during a baseball game.

Until today.

Thanks to the Tri-City Valley Cats, the short-season Level A-affiliate of the Houston Astros, I had the honor of sitting down with their talented radio broadcaster Joe Mixie for a couple of innings and commenting on what was happening on the field as the Valley Cats took on the Batavia Muckrakers.

Today was “camp” day at The Joe, which is what the Valley Cats call their field, in honor of former New York State Senator Joseph Bruno, whose efforts helped make the stadium possible. The stands were filled with more than 4,000 fans, many of whom wore matching t-shirts identifying them as belonging to one local camp or another. They’d arrived in yellow school buses, lined up in rows, as they entered into the park. Very little humidity today–sun shining, blue sky, a great day for a game.

Joe made it look easy, as he scanned the field and scoreboard, looking down every so often at his scorebook, recalling what a batter or pitcher did last inning or during yesterday’s game. It’s obvious he did his homework before the game, and that he knows each player on this team. He’s tuned in to what’s happening on the field. A true professional.

I did my best to keep up with him, as we discussed my long life as a baseball fan, my novel, as well as the day I served as the public address announcer for the Red Sox at Fenway Park, almost exactly nine years ago today, on August 5, 2012.

My two innings in the Valley Cats broadcasting booth went way too fast. In the end, the Cats lost the game, but I came home, feeling like a winner because yet another one of the things I’d always wanted to do in baseball came to fruition.

I also had the opportunity to meet a young man named Nicholas, who’s been broadcasting for the Dragons in Glens Falls, who did an inning with Joe. What a thrill it must have been for him as well. (I looked over his shoulder to see how he scores baseball games in his program–and he does it the same way as I do! YAY!) The two men who were with him were interesting, and we shared many baseball memories.

Thanks to Joe, Valley Cats PR guy Chris Chenes, and to Minor League Baseball’s Benjamin Hill (check out his blog at @bensbiz) for helping to arrange this. It was a great day for a baseball game, and it was a reminder about why I love this game so much–the camaraderie, the connections, the communication with people listening.

Support Minor League Baseball. You never know whom you’ll see coming up the ladder, and, one day, you might see him in The Show.

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