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Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Readers share feelings about sports announcers

You don’t need much imagination to watch a baseball game or football game on television. The action unfolds before your very eyes and you don’t have to have an interpreter to tell you what is happening.

But radio. Ahh, that’s an entirely different matter. As you listen to the sportscasters describe the play, your mind’s eye is busily translating the words into mental pictures so that you have – with only the words as your guide – a clear vision of the game as it progresses.

I mentioned, a couple of weeks ago, some of the announcers I enjoyed in the days of yore, including Jack Graney and Pinkey Hunter of Indians broadcasts, plus Mike Hegan and Herb Score of Tribe games. Also,
Bernie Kosar, who did color commentary of the Browns’ pre-season games on TV before he was unceremoniously canned by higher-ups in the team’s organization.

I didn’t realize how many others also enjoyed those word pictures on radio, and some of them on TV, until the feedback began to flow in.

Larry O’Donnell of Willoughby Hills hunted me down at a meet-the-candidates luncheon at Pine Ridge to tell me how much he enjoyed the broadcasting arts of Graney and Hunter.

He recalled, especially, how Graney would describe center fielder Roy “Little Thunder” Weatherly jumping on his Flying Red Horse to chase down a fly ball.

That, of course, was reference to the logo at Socony-Vacuum filling stations, a sponsor of the Indians.

Larry also mailed a copy of a column written oh-so-many years ago by my longtime colleague, the late Bob Murphy, who noted that Weatherly put the Bug-a-Boo on the fly ball.

I remember that vividly, Larry. But I also recall the joyful repartee between the two announcers as they touted the product.

“Never give a bug a break, Jack, give ‘em Bug-a-Boo,” Pinkey would say to his partner at the mike.

“Does it kill ‘em, Pinkey?” Jack would ask.

“Kills ‘em dead, Jack,” Pinkey would reply.

I have heard that line a thousand times. That was long before anyone owned television sets.

Many times Weatherly didn’t have to run far to catch the ball. Jack would say, “He’s under it, waiting for it and takes it.”

I can’t guess how many times I have heard that line, either.

In another product-related line, Jack would say, “Averill hits a hiiiiiiigh fly ball, going out to deeeeep right field. And it’s a case of Wheaties for Earl Averill.”

Every Indian who hit a home run in those days got a case of the breakfast cereal. What made the call fun was the way Graney dragged out the words hiiiiiiiiigh fly ball and deeeeeeep right field.

It took him longer to describe the action than it took for the ball to fly over the friendly, nearby wall in right.

“Lest we forget,” Kevin Sroub wrote in an email, “in the early days Graney and Hunter did it the hard way – from ticker tape.”

You bet I remember, Kevin. Jack and Pinkey recreated the action, pitch-by-pitch, as they read the story coming in on tape.

I recall watching them one day when, as a young lad, I saw them doing a broadcast from Euclid Beach Park and they were reading the action from Western Union.

“Watch out, Jack!” Pinkey yelled. “It’s a foul ball coming right back into the press box!”

With that he thumped his fist on the table in front of them. He sure made it sound like a foul ball.

Another email, from Janet Salesky, echoed my comments on the poor announcers that replaced Rick Manning and Matt Underwood when the Indians were playing on a nationally televised broadcast on ESPN.

“My husband and I were saying the same things when having to endure the ESPN announcers,” Janet wrote.

“You don’t realize how entertaining our Rick and Matt are until we listen to the mindless drivel that was given to us from ESPN announcers.

“Thanks, Rick and Matt, for the great information and the stats you give us in such an interesting way.

“We also agree with you about Bernie,” she wrote. (Thanks, Janet.) “We needed Bernie announcing to give us some insights on what happened in the second half that should have happened in the first half.”

I think she may have been talking about the Browns loss to the Steelers, which was a regular season game, not a pre-season contest.

But she is absolutely correct in her observations about needing Bernie for color commentary in football.

The point of both letter writers is clear: The over-the-air comments of announcers on sporting events is important to some of us, and if they are not doing a good job, we notice.

Boy, do we ever. And we let those thoughts be known.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Larry Whinnery said...

You did this article without mentioning Jimmy Dudley ???? He broadcast the 1948 season!!!
Was there till around 1969.

September 16, 2014 at 12:10 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes indeed BRING Bernie back for ALL Browns games ...I'm in Steelers territory and often only get to hear Browns games on radio...

September 17, 2014 at 7:15 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't believe you wrote this article & never mentioned Jimmy Dudley He was the announcer for the 1948 season, including the one game playoff & the World Series.
I think he was with the Indians for over 20 years.

September 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You left out the best Commentator when you forgot to mention Jimmy Dudley. He was the best ever.

September 28, 2014 at 1:44 PM 

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