By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
7:30 AM EST, January 6, 2014
We'll dim the lights a little bit in the bar today -- and not as a tribute/testament to the Orioles offseason.
Today I was going to take another look at remaining free agents and where they may fit with the Orioles, but that can probably wait. Besides, I’m sure many of you are tired of speculation and simply want action.
So I’m steering this ship in a different direction. You could say it was inspired by the sad news Sunday that Jerry Coleman, a former New York Yankees All-Star second baseman and Hall of Fame broadcaster for the San Diego Padres, had passed away at age 89 after complications from a fall.
I didn’t know Coleman personally, but I obviously knew of the man, his experience as a fighter pilot in two wars and his time as a Padres radio man. So many tributes came flowing in Sunday night, whether on websites or Twitter. It was great to read.
And it got me thinking about baseball and the radio, and whether the pairing is still considered a beautiful marriage by fans in the technology age. You can watch every game on television, on your computer or, in many cases, your phone. You really don’t need a radio announcer to tell you what’s happening anymore; you can see it with your own eyes almost anywhere you go.
Last week, I was out of Baltimore TV range and had to listen to the Ravens game on my computer. Gerry Sandusky and crew did an excellent job painting the picture for me. But it was an emergency situation; I’d never purposely choose to listen to football on the radio.
Baseball, however, is a different situation. For years I had Sirius/XM radio almost exclusively to listen to baseball games in my car on my way home from Camden Yards. I had just watched nine innings, sometimes more, and, yet, I’d always turn on the dial looking for West Coast games. Oftentimes I didn’t care about who was playing; it was more about the cadence, the rhythm of the baseball broadcast.
There will always be something special to me about baseball on the radio. Part of it is my upbringing, growing up in Baltimore listening to Chuck Thompson and Bill O’Donnell and later Jon Miller and Joe Angel. I was the ultimate baseball fan cliché as a child, listening to games on my little transistor radio under my pillow when my parents thought I was sleeping.
I remember once blowing my own cover -- in late August 1983 when I was 13 and Tippy Martinez had just picked off two straight baserunners in the 10th. I couldn’t contain my excitement, so I went into my parents’ bedroom, told my father and we listened to Martinez’s amazing third pickoff in the inning together and the Orioles’ improbable victory in the bottom of the 10th.
So, yeah, I’m an unabashed lover of baseball on the radio. And I think we are pretty spoiled in this area. Admittedly, I consider Angel and Fred Manfra friends, but I also think they are pretty darn good at their jobs -- especially if you compare them to others throughout the country.
But, because of my job, I don’t get to hear Orioles radio broadcasts very often unless I am, for some reason, not at the game and am driving in my car somewhere. When I’m home and not at the park, I’ll watch the Orioles on TV.
And so I wonder if baseball on the radio has lost an audience. Perhaps it is like people not needing a newspaper in their hands anymore when they can get similar information by scrolling websites. Has baseball on the radio become a secondary (or worse) option now that you can see it with your own eyes? (Although I’m sure some of you listen to the radio broadcasts while watching your TV/computer.)
Or is there still something magical about baseball on the radio? Is there still a special bond with the radio broadcasters -- like Coleman in San Diego -- who speak to you nightly in the summer?
I’m really curious about this one. Let me know.
Daily Think Special: Do you still listen to baseball on the radio? Why or why not?
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