Announcers can make history too
It’s coming, even though nobody is quite sure when. Barry Bonds will hit home run No. 756 and break Hank Aaron’s record, and whatever the game announcers say will be long remembered.
When Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record with No. 715 in Atlanta against the Dodgers on April 8, 1974, the announcers working that game were Curt Gowdy on NBC, Milo Hamilton on Braves radio and Vin Scully on Dodgers radio.
Gowdy, showing more emotion than usual, said: “He did it! He did it!”
Hamilton’s often-repeated call was: “There’s a new home run champion of all time, and it’s Henry Aaron.”
Scully’s call began with: “It a long drive to deep left, Buckner to the fence . . . It is gone!”
Then Scully did what has become his trademark. He paused. For about 25 seconds, listeners were allowed to take in the crowd noise. Finally, he broke his silence:
“What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world.
“A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly Henry Aaron.”
Scully now may get a chance to call Bonds’ record-breaker, because the San Francisco Giants are at Dodger Stadium for a three-game series beginning Tuesday and the veteran left fielder needs only three more to do it.
The odds are even better, however, that Jon Miller will be behind a microphone for No. 756. When not working for ESPN, Miller, a native of the Bay Area, is a Giants announcer, a job he has held since 1997 after 14 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. He’s on radio for most games, and on television for games carried on the over-the-air San Francisco Fox affiliate.
But Miller will miss the Giants’ afternoon game Sunday against the Florida Marlins because he’ll be at Angel Stadium that evening. ESPN is televising the Angels’ 5 p.m. game against Detroit, and the announcing team will be Miller, Orel Hershiser and Dusty Baker. Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, Miller’s regular partner, has the weekend off to attend Sunday’s induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Reached on his cellphone, Miller was asked if he had thought about what he might say when Bonds hits No. 756.
“That’s about the 1,000th time I’ve been asked that question,” he said with a laugh. “It all depends on the circumstances -- where he hits hit, the crowd reaction. A lot of things will come into play.
“If he hits it in San Francisco, the crowd will go nuts. If he hits it somewhere else, no telling what the reaction will be. If it’s in L.A., you would assume there will be boos, but earlier this year, in the last game of a series in Philadelphia, he hit a home run off the facing on the third deck and the people stood and applauded.
“I was surprised by that. They usually boo Barry in Philadelphia.”
And when Bonds hit two homers in Chicago on July 19, Miller said the crowd cheered.
One thing Miller concedes is that whatever he says will not match Scully’s words after Aaron’s 715th.
“That may be the best call I’ve ever heard,” Miller said. “You got the vivid description, then the roar of the crowd, then Vinny summing up the situation perfectly.”
Late Thursday, ESPN announced that it will televise the Giants’ games against Florida tonight and Saturday night, with Dan Shulman, Hershiser and Steve Phillips calling the games.
A short response
Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and admitted steroid chemist Patrick Arnold took some shots at Bonds on HBO’s “Costas Now” this week, so Bonds in turn took a shot at Bob Costas, the show’s host.
“You mean that little midget man who absolutely knows jack... about baseball?” Bonds said Wednesday.
Costas, reached Thursday, measured his words carefully and said, “As anyone can plainly see, I’m 5-6 1/2 and a strapping 150. And unlike some people, I came by it all naturally.”
Bonds later Thursday told The Times’ Mike DiGiovanna and a few other reporters: “How do you know he’s natural?”
More on Bonds
This from Fox’s Tim McCarver: “Only time will tell if baseball’s steroid era will result in a number of asterisks within the record book, but there are already mental asterisks in the minds of fans. It’s a shame that, after Bonds breaks the record, the conversation will go, ‘Barry is the all-time home run hitter, but ... ‘
“This record deserves more than that. With Henry Aaron, there were no buts.”
The first and third games of next week’s series at Dodger Stadium will be televised by FSN Prime Ticket, with Channel 9 showing the middle game. Prime Ticket’s pregame coverage will include sound bites from the Dodgers’ Jeff Kent on Bonds, a former teammate. During the game, a camera will follow Bonds’ every move in the outfield.
After Thursday’s postgame coverage will be the latest edition of “In My Own Words,” this one featuring the Dodgers’ Juan Pierre.
Another new toy for TV
NASCAR’s main circuit, the Nextel Cup, returns to ESPN for the first time since 2000 when the network televises the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Sunday at 11 a.m., following one hour of pre-race coverage.
A highlight of the high-definition race coverage will be the debut of what ESPN is calling “draft track.” It’s supposed to help viewers see the effect of drafting, which is wind created by the race cars. Said executive producer Jed Drake: “We will let the viewers decide how good draft track is.”
Said ESPN commentator Rusty Wallace: “As a driver you can feel it. You can feel what it does when you’re side by side, you can feel what it does when you’re behind each other and you can feel what it’s supposed to do. I know what it’s supposed to do and what it feels like. The story is letting the viewers see it.”
Sign of the times
Beginning Wednesday on the redesigned USCTrojans.com will be a new subscription feature called TrojanTV All-Access.
“We will be showing USC sports in a way nobody has shown their sports,” USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett said.
The multimedia Internet platform will feature live game broadcasts, with an emphasis on football and basketball, plus a digital library of classic events, behind-the-scenes video and a daily talk show. The cost is $99.95 a year and $9.95 a month.