June 01, 2020
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MLB Network classic games a reminder that baseball is made for radio

Gabor Degre | BDN
Gabor Degre | BDN
Boston Red Sox announcers Dave O'Brien (left) and Joe Castiglione field questions from the audience at the annual WZON Hot Stove Baseball Night at the Bangor Civic Center.

The MLB Network on Sirius radio has been airing games from different eras with the focus on some of the great play-by-play men in the history of baseball.

On Wednesday night, they broadcast a 1949 playoff game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox that featured the Yankees’ broadcast team of Mel Allen and Curt Gowdy.

Gowdy went on to call Red Sox games from 1951-1965 and was followed by a flock of terrific play-by-play men including Ned Martin, Ken Coleman, Jim Woods and current gems Joe Castiglione (radio) and Dave O’Brien (television).

Castiglione, who has been doing Red Sox games since 1983, and O’Brien, who climbed into the Fenway Park booth in 2007, have entertained local Red Sox fans for years during their annual “hot stove” appearances in Bangor where they discussed the Red Sox and fielded questions from the fans.

When you hear the broadcasts of games from yesteryear, one thing stands out: the game hasn’t really changed.

The American League did add the designated hitter in 1973, a fourth playoff team (a wild card) came into existence in each league in 1995 and a second wild card was added to each league in 2012.

Baseball has certainly had its share of controversy beginning with the Black Sox scandal in 1919 when eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for money from a gambling syndicate.

Then there was the steroid era and recently there has been the technological sign-stealing scandal involving the Houston Astros during the 2017 and 2018 seasons and the Red Sox in 2018.

But it is still the same wonderful game it has always been.

And, unlike any other sport, it is as good to listen to as it is to watch.

Baseball on radio conjures up crystal-clear imagery. You can often tell by the crack of the bat how well hit a ball is.

It tantalizes your imagination.

It is a terrific complement to summer activities like soup and sandwich or corn on the cob and lobster.

I remember telling O’Brien and Castiglione at one of the hot stove sessions how special it must be for them knowing people were listening to them at the beach, at a barbecue, while throwing horseshoes or playing cornhole.

The announcers play an important role in creating the moment with their description of the game and banter.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no telling if there will be a season this year.

But, if there is, be prepared.

Go get some batteries for the radio!


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