Thursday, October 16, 2003

Who Needs Harry Kalas?

I had a truly great baseball moment last night. On my way into Center City late in the afternoon for a work thing, I had the Red Sox-Yankees game on the radio -- God bless WPEN for picking up the ESPN radio feed; dare we hope for a format change someday? -- and was enjoying Boston's 4-1 lead when I nosed the Forester into a parking garage to run a quick errand. Ten minutes later, I was back in the car and listening in shock as Jon Miller was talking about the Yankees' 5-4 lead, with runners still on base.

I switched the game off, figuring the Red Sox were meat. Two hours later, finished with my work thing, I checked in at home. The missus was channel-surfing, and very kindly stopped on Fox and informed me that it was 9-6 Boston, bottom of the ninth. As I made my way to the parking garage, cell phone glued to my ear, she relayed the pitch-by-pitch action.

The missus is not much of a baseball fan, but she knows that her Boston-area parents, her Worcester-raised coworker, and her Yankee-disliking husband are rooting for the Red Sox. She stayed on the line, excitedly describing balls, strikes, and batted balls, including the great catch by "the cute guy in centerfield." And when it was over and the Sox had forced Game 7, she was rejoicing like a true fan.

No other sport could have offered such an encounter. I try not to get all poetic when it comes to baseball, but it's the only game whose pace and activity lend themselves to the experience I had. It's the same kind of thing that allows you to strike up deep conversations with complete strangers at Fenway Park -- try to imagine doing that at Lincoln Financial Field when the Eagles are going three-and-out against the Bucs. She doesn't know it, but hanging on the line and telling me about foul balls and pop-ups as they happened was one of the sweetest things the missus could do for me.


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