The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘John Sterling’

In praise of the 1979 World Series

Posted by keithosaunders on February 25, 2019

You can watch countless old baseball games on youtube.  Last year, during the off-season I watched some of the 1974 World Series between the Dodgers and the As.  This year I’ve been watching one of my all time favorites, the Pittsburgh Pirates versus the Baltimore Orioles.

Played in 1979, This was a rematch of the 1971 Series.  Like its counterpart, the ’79 Series went a full seven games –  both were won by the Pirates.  1979 was particularly dramatic, however, as the Pirates fell behind 3-1 in games and had to win three elimination games. To top it off the final two games were played on the road in Baltimore.

Here are some random observations:

In those days ABC and NBC would alternate years broadcasting the Series.  1979 was an ABC year and I was reminded why they were the inferior broadcasting network.  ABC had a bizarre fixation with showing the ball players wives, which quickly grew tiresome.  Their camerawork also seemed sub par – replays rarely yielded a satisfying shot.  And then there was Howard Cosell.

Cosell was as insufferable as I remembered him being.  He was smart, could be glib, and yes, I would take him any over Joe Buck (I would take a trained seal over Joe Buck) but he couldn’t help but make the game about himself.  Cosell did, however, provide one laugh-out-loud moment.  After catcher, Manny Sanguillen, won game two with a pinch hit ABC went down to the field to interview him.   As  the camera fixed on a closeup of the scraggly, bearded veteran, Cosell waxed,  “LOOK at that time-worn face!”

Keith Jackson was the play by play man for the games in Baltimore.  Although he was a consummate professional and had a good set of pipes, he was more of a college football guy.  That weekend he was absent from the Series as he was sent to work the Oklahoma-Texas Tech game.  Jackson’s sub was a young Al Michaels, whose voice was a half an octave higher than it is today.  Michaels was a marked upgrade from Jackson and it was good to hear him during his formative years.  The booth was rounded out by Don Drysdale, or Twin D, as Cosell referred to him.

The uniforms were garish, but delightful.  I always did love the banana-yellow Pirates uniforms.  The Bumblebee Bucs!  Even Baltimore got into the act in game 2, donning flaming orange tops.

It is a delight to watch pitchers pitch with tempo.  Jim Palmer versus Burt Blyleven was a sight for sore eyes.  Most of the pitchers I saw pitched with a tidy rhythm, with the exceptions being Jim Bibby and Dennis Martinez.  Kent Tekulve, one of my favorites at the time, did not disappoint.  He also has a good quote in which he said that he takes one look at the scouting reports, throws them away, and then pitches his game.  Take that, metrics freaks.

In game three there was an hour rain delay after three innings.  Both starting pitchers, John Candeleria, and Scott McGregor, remained in the game.  McGregor, who had allowed 3 runs in the first two innings, settled down and pitched a complete game.  Somehow pitchers in those days could get through the lineup 4 times.  Go figure.

Relief pitchers were allowed to stay in the game for more than one inning and closers were sometimes called upon to get outs in non save situations.  In game 4 The Birds had come from 6-3 down to take a 7-6 lead.  Earl Weaver was pulling all the right strings employing a successful string of pinch hitters.  With two on and one out Weaver allowed relief pitcher, Tim Stoddard, to hit.  Stoddard, being an American League pitcher,  had not had one at bat the entire season.  Of course he singled to center, driving in a run.

[John Sterling voice] That’s baseball!

Image result for 1979 pirates




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Fun with announcing, starring Ralph Kiner and Keith Hernandez

Posted by keithosaunders on September 2, 2010

Lest you think that the Yankees, with Phil Rizzuto and John Sterling, have cornered the market on eccentricity in the announcing booth, I am giving equal time to the New York Mets TV team.  For years Ralph Kiner, the great Pittsburgh Pirates slugger, was a staple in the Mets announcing core.  These days he is mostly retired, but every once in a while, say five or six times a year, they dust him off, prop him up, and bring him in.  He’s always been a favorite of mine and he was a great announcer in his day, although he could be prone to mispronounce certain names or sponsors.  Manufacturers Hanover became Manufacturers Hand Over, while Reds pitchers Mario Sota was transformed into Mario Soda.

Once again, the great Jeff Mazzei supplied the anecdote:

…the highlight was Kiner & Hernandez strolling down memory lane.  Gary Cohen made the mistake of asking Ralph if the Mets and Astros had a natural rivalry in the early days because they were both expansion teams that arrived at the same time.  Ralph said it was actually very one-sided with the Astros winning most of the time, but he loved coming to Houston because of the hotel.  Keith chimed in that he knew exactly what hotel he was talking about (which he did). 

Kiner said, “Yes, they had a great bar,” and Hernandez reminisced, “Yes, they had that great brown bag policy.  Apparently, Harris County was a dry county, and this hotel let you bring your own liquor into the bar as long as it was concealed. 

But this was just the beginning.  Keith said, “You know, when I played triple A in Wichita, they had a bar with a policy that you could bring your own as long as you removed the label and replaced it with a label that just had your name, and you’d leave it on the counter.  I used to love to tell the bartender, “Give me a Keith & tonic”. 

And so began Ralph & Keith’s journey through the dry counties of triple A baseball.  It was all the more hilarious due to Kiner’s slurred speech which was interrupted by Gary Cohen’s vain attempts to call the game.  I guess you never know when Pandora’s box is about to be opened.

 From the Yankee game, Michael Kay was reading a promo for Yankee Classics on the Yes Network.  O’neill chimes in with, “Have the Yankees ever lost a game on that show?  They must be 1000-0, like the Harlem Globetrotters.”

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