By Dick Flavin
Boston Red Sox Poet Laureate
and New York Times Best Selling Author
TONIGHT’S BIG GAME ON TV
Come on along and listen to
Tonight’s big game on TV.
The play-by- play, commercials, too,
Tonight’s big game on TV.
The lead announcer takes the mike
And tells you who’ll be ptching.
And you’re committed for the night,
There’ll be no channel switching.
The game is scoreless in the third,
The play-by- play man’s saying,
And we’ve got men on first and third.
Our big home run guy’s playing.
Long fly, baby,
Oh my, baby,
I think it’s going to be –
Good-bye - and now we lead by three.
The other team just will not quit,
Although they’re badly bleeding.
They launch a comeback hit by hit,
And pretty soon they’re leading.
It’s right down to the final out,
We’re in the final inning.
We only need just one more clout
To have shot at winning.
Long fly? Maybe.
We can’t wait to see –
Score tied? Maybe.
Score tied? Or will it be strike three?
Listen to tonight’s big game
On your TV.
Our instinct is to glorify the experience of being at the ballpark for a game and all that
entails – you know, the peanuts and Crackjacks, that sort of thing – but the reality is that
for just about all of us our main contact with the game is through television. We watch
most of our baseball sitting at home on the sofa with snacks on the coffee table (maybe
peanuts, but not many of us have Crackerjacks around the house these days). Sometimes
we’re joined by family or a few friends, and sometimes we’re by ourselves, but watching
the games on television is a common experience that all of us share.
What better way of celebrating that common experience than through a parody of that
greatest of all Broadway show tunes, “Lullaby of Broadway?” Except that “Lullaby of
Broadway” was not written as a Broadway show tune. It’s a Hollywood song. It was
written for the movie, “Gold Diggers of 1935,” and it won the Oscar for best song that
year. It wasn’t until forty-five years later - when it was included in the musical , “42 nd
Street” - that it made its Broadway debut.
But I deviate from my text. And I don’t want to be known as a textual deviate so back to
the subject at hand.
The announcers of those televised games, and radio broadcasts too, once they win our
trust, become as much a part the team as are the players. When I hear the name Jerry
Remy, for example, I think immediately of the Red Sox and not of NESN - for whom he
has worked for more than thirty years. I suspect that is just fine with the powers that be at
NESN because it enhances his value to the outlet. When someone mentions Dennis
Eckersely I no longer think first about him first as a Hall of Fame closer for the Oakland
A’s, but as one of the Red Sox color guys. When one of the national networks covers a
Sox game and the voice of the play-by- play guy is not that of Dave O’Brien, my comfort
level goes slightly askew.
It’s always been that way. Back in the fifties, when the Red Sox had mediocre teams
except, of course for Ted Williams, the best-known person connected to them, except, of
course, for Ted, was their announcer, Curt Gowdy.
Joe Castiglione is not blessed with a great radio voice in the classic sense, but his work
ethic, his game preparation, his knowledge of baseball history, and his overall steadiness
make him sorely missed on those rare occasions when he’s not in the booth. He’s in his
36 th year there and he is regarded, desevedly so, with both respect and affection.
On a personal note, I discovered back in 2010 how important baseball telecasts can be. I
was on the sidelines with cancer during that entire season; recovery can be a long arduous
process, and it can be discouraging. But I had the Red Sox games to watch every night.
They gave me something to look forward to. Even as the team fell out of contention that
year it kept me involved and helped me get through an otherwise bleak period. The Sox
might have been dead by the middle of September but I was feeling a whole lot better.
The telecasts and radio broacasts are our connections with the Red Sox. We think of the
announcers as our friends, and they are, in a way, even though we may never have met
them. There are ups and downs through the course of a season; good days and bad. It’s
nice to know that with us through all the trials and tribulations are our friends, the