June 21, 2018
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A sportswriter’s tale: Taking one for the team

By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

I’ll admit sports writing generally is not the most dangerous of vocations, landing somewhere deep on the list of tough jobs below Navy Seals, police officers and firefighters.

But it has its moments.

Late Wednesday morning your humble correspondent was safely tucked in a press box at Morton Field in Augusta to watch the American Legion baseball state tournament.

The press box location was ideal for charting plays — at the top of the bleachers behind home plate in a booth doing double duty for the Bangor Daily News and WZON radio.

There was a backstop and a window in front of me, while broadcast partner Dale Duff’s window had been removed to allow the coolness of a Canadian-borne breeze to permeate the otherwise enclosed area. Only some protective wire mesh was between him and the fans in the top row.

Midway through the game I was extolling the virtues of Augusta pitcher Ryan Minoty, who was in the midst of striking out seven consecutive Brewer batters, when suddenly a violent crashing of glass interrupted what had been a perfect summer day.

Lucky for me I had been looking down at my scorebook at the time, because the broken glass was from the window two feet in front of me, the result of a foul ball that took a one-in-a-million path from the batter’s box over the backstop at a low trajectory with just enough topspin to drop to window level.

The wire mesh wasn’t so protective, after all.

Shards of broken glass ranging from minute particles to pieces the size of a playing card, were everywhere, covering our scorebooks and the radio equipment, all over the floor, and even on a window sill behind our broadcast positions.

That we survived essentially unscathed — I did get a tiny cut on my right leg — was a blessing, particularly given what might have happened had either one of us had been looking up at the split-second of impact.

For six hours later as I was combing my hair just before leaving the baseball complex, small traces of glass were still to be found.

Fortunately it was something Duff and I could laugh about later in the day when we heard the replay on his afternoon sports talk show, and we’ll continue to share a chuckle down the road when we reminisce about such media war stories as getting clipped on the sidelines at football games or having a basketball player land in our laps while sitting on press row.

Or the time a few years ago when I was covering another state Legion tournament for the BDN and WZON from the press box above the third-base dugout at Saint Joseph’s College. Bangor’s Ian Edwards, who was at the plate, lost his grip on the bat after a swing and a miss and the bat sailed up into the press box, just missing me but hitting WZON’s Jeff Mannix squarely in the chest.

Mannix just kept broadcasting — the show must go on, after all — only to discover later some serious bruising.

As for the Augusta incident, I’ve been promised the replacement window will be made of Plexiglass.

And at least I got into the game for free.

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