Archive for the 'baseball announcers' Category

#163: Warm Weather & The Braves Heat Up

Gil
Mechanicsville, VA

 

After a pretty ragged start to the season which saw the Braves boot the ball around like they were auditioning for a spot with the Atlanta United FC. Needless to say, no one secured a spot on the football club for fear of a rash of own goals occurring. While the Braves were in most of their early games, unforced errors led to a 1-6 record.

 

Along with a split of a two game set in Miami, the Braves returned to the Atlanta suburbs and their new home of Sun Trust Park. Warm weather and timely hitting as well as fundamentally sound defense the Los Bravos have chopped their way to a modest 5 game win streak. Perhaps most encouragingly it has been done in the absence of Matt Kemp while he rested a cranky hamstring.

The braves still face a pretty tough road as they continue to seek answers at several key positions. Adonis Garcia continues to man the third base position and it is likely he will be one of the first to be jettisoned when a suitable alternative is procured. Perhaps his best role would be as a right handed pinch hitter off the bench but after having future hall of fame player Chipper Jones play there, the drop off is noticeable. Even Martin Prado was solid as a super sub manning the position.

 

The Braves bullpen has found the sweet spot too with Rameirez, Vizcaino and Johnson closing games but these guys cannot pitch every night. It would be nice to see Braves starters going deep into games instead of coming out after 5 or 6 innings.

 

Ramirez, Viscaino, Johnson

Ian Krol still seems to have some problems being consistent in the strike zone and causes me to have some angst when his number is called to come in from the bull pen.What we don’t want to see is Snit fall in love with the same three guys every night to the point they lose their effectiveness or their arms fall off by August.

So, as the gNats blow into town, the first real test of the young season might well be upon us. Swatting the gNats could go a long way in showing this team and baseball they are pretty far along on the road to respectability.

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#147: Hot Stove or Open Pit?

Gil Mechanicsville, VA

Gil 
Mechanicsville, VA

Going back and reading some of the links posted previously, Coppy is finding Braves fans can be a tough crowd. Amazing how someone could supplant Frank Wren as the villain. No matter how well intentioned, folks get antsy when they feel you are more like Jeff Loria than Dan Dombroski.

Losing seasons are part of baseball but salary dumping is never a crowd pleaser. It’s as if the Braves have lost their focus. Changing from being a sports franchise to becoming a real estate developer. Even the most successful shopping mall has to have a couple of good anchor stores.

Unless you are a NASCAR fan, few people root for the corporate sponsor. Even so, I worked for DuPont for 25 years but never was a Jeff Gordon fan… If the Braves think a new stadium will increase the turnstile flow, they need only look at Pittsburg. Great stadium but until they started winning, most fans came disguised as empty seats.

Our old friend, Skip Caray, oft opined, the best promotion was a winning team. The Braves have to be very careful going forward. They risk alienating a whole generation of Braves fans if they are perceived as tanking. If they thought it was tough getting fans back after the baseball strike in ’93, they will find it doubly tough to comeback after losing 100 games for a few years. Add an increase in ticket prices and you could see a downward spiral from which it might be tough to pull out from.

The Braves endeavor to make Sun Trust Stadium a destination but I suspect a lot of folks can find good food or entertainment without the cover charge of $50 per ticket and having to sit through 3 hours of seeing your home team get clobbered each day. The Dodgers seem to draw quite well despite an ancient ballpark. Same could be said of Fenway. Not saying you don’t have to put money into an old park but when you can sit at home where the beer is colder, the seats are wider, the bathroom has no waiting line, and the view of the field is unobstructed, why bother to fight the traffic?

Gil2

94: “Hello again, everybody!” – can’t you just hear it?

by Carolina Lady

It’s pretty safe to say that all of us are genuinely excited about the Braves’ potential for this year’s diamond campaign.

A kid’s Christmas morning anticipation is nothing compared to a baseball fan’s sparkly-eyed, hyperactive grinning as his/her team gets ready to launch a shiny new season.

Raisins and Ber have already addressed many of the reasons why in the previous couple of  leads.

My thoughts were are a little more in the ‘intangibles’ category: what, if anything, will be the impact of Bobby’s final year as field manager?

From everything I’ve read, it’s universal that Braves people want him to go out with another World Series ring, none more-so than the players themselves.

I sense it in the columns I read and in the interviews given by those associated in any way with the team. It’s as if there is a new purposefulness in the players’ attitudes, a certain determination in the eye. Have you noticed it?

They seem to have a more definitive goal this year rather than the annual generic “We wanna go to the Series” one. A mission. And they know what they have to do to make it happen: win ball games.

I don’t think there’s a way to measure this ‘swan song’ influence except maybe by seeing a player dig down a little deeper, try a little harder, successfully make that stolen base, make that extra-base hit, move that runner over and bring him in. I’ll sure be looking for it!

I just hope they can maintain this focus through the full, grueling 162-game schedule. Somehow I think they will. If this lady’s yelling and jumping up-and-down in front of the TV/computer during game time will help, I will be in the BSOML by Oct 2010!

With all his good points and bad, I’ll  really miss Bobby when he retires. I cannot even imagine who will be tasked with trying to fill those spikes in 2011. Really don’t even want to go there right now. But it will be an almost impossible position to hold with any success.

Today I listened again to some of the interviews done after Skip died. When Don Sutton was asked what Skip was like to him, he responded, “He’s like the grumpy old uncle that I couldn’t wait to see again.” In a strange sort of way, that made me think of Bobby. Everybody loves the man.  And that’s special in my book.

Speaking of Skip, wouldn’t you just love to listen to his comments through this final Bobby Cox season? Undoubtedly he would bring a perspective that would ring true in every aspect and would be unique and memorable – as only Skip could do. Don’t know about you but I can’t watch a game without hearing his voice in my mind commenting with humor and his own brand of caustic wit.

Anyhow, those are just a few thoughts on a cold February evening on the Carolina coast.

What do you think?  What and/or how much influence do you think the retirement of  No.6 will have on the season?

Gil, we’re all looking forward to your reports from Florida! Take photos! Lots of ’em!

~CL~

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79: Wandering Around the Ballpark….

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by FloridaBravesGirl

I haven’t been to Turner Field for a few years… I was happy to see that the big chopping cow is not really that prominent & most unhappy to see that the BBQ no longer bears Skip & Pete’s names. Boo hiss.

Is anything cuter than those Little Leaguers parading around the field?

O Canada was sung beautifully by a member of the Atlanta Opera, followed by a somewhat less-polished Star Spangled Banner by a children’s choir. The entertainment value makes up for the few wince-inducing notes.

I was not aware there was a Kosher Day but the rabbi throwing out the first pitch sure seemed excited. Nice throw, sir.

Why do cheap hot dogs taste so good at the ballpark?

Filled out your All-Star ballots yet? I did a handful.

Why do the Braves hire the DMV photographer to take their player pics? Eek.

A very cool thing the Braves are doing: the Hometown Hero presentation. Every Sun. they introduce a recently returned local soldier on the field. The standing ovation for that gentleman was long & loud.

Do y’all think they have fans blowing the cinnamon-glazed nuts’ aroma into the stands? Mmm.

Even when he’s hurting Chipper still comes up with the big hit.

Woohoo! Diory’s 1st ( & 2nd) ML hit! Hope there’s many more.

A 7-run 7th! Jim, Don & Jake got to give away $$$ on radio.

Mac must have known I was wearing my new #16 shirt. That was worth sitting through a rainout the previous Sun., driving down in the rain & back home in a monsoon.

FBG

BravesAndStuff@hotmai

76: YES! OPENING DAY!!!

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by FloridaBravesGirl

Opening Day! It seemed as if it would never get here. Now the fun begins!

…..And the ❓ questions ❓ .

Does Chipper have another great season in him? Can Lowe be the ace? Can Mac really contend for the MVP (thank you, Mr. Bradley)? Can JJ avoid the sophomore slump? Has Frenchy figured out how to play this game? How will Kawakami adjust? And has Mac learned any Japanese? 🙂 Will Schafer live up to his spring? How long before Hanson gets called up?

Soon the answers will start to come to us. Soon we’ll see our Braves on the field again. We’ll hear Joe crack a joke in that deadpan voice and Boog giggle. We’ll get used to Jim and Don on radio but miss Skip and Pete all the while. Soon we’ll see what this team is made of. I for one see better days ahead… soon!

videotop

~FBG~

BravesAndStuff@hotmail.com

75:Thoughts Out Of Left Field… Sort Of

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by Voice of Reason Raisins

JEFFERSON, GA – As each day of this seemingly never-ending extended Spring Training continues to move forward at a pace rivaled only by the traffic on the I-285 perimeter highway around Atlanta at 5:00pm on any given weekday, I have a few random thoughts I’d like to share…

Be forewarned, though… random means random. No telling what may spill forth.

Isn’t it strange how we clamored all winter for Braves news items in anticipation of the coming new season, and have nearly disappeared in mid-Spring? That one’s hard to figure, except that we know what we have now, well sort of. I mean, the team is here, but not really. You can’t even really look at it these games as a barometer of the potential of team’s fortunes for 2009. The WBC has taken players from not just all over our roster, but everyone else’s as well. These games really don’t mean squat.

Our star 3B has been away, then injured. Our star catcher, who needs to be working with an entirely new pitching staff, has not been present either. Our only offseason offensive acquisition, long anticipated I might add, has been injured and out. We don’t know who our CF will be. It’s just been weird.

Yet, the promise of a new season is still here… knocking on the door like a child wanting to come into Mom and Dad’s bedroom at 2:00 in the morning. It’s a mixed blessing. You love them, but are just a tad resistant to their being there.

duhHey… if our knees bent in the other direction, what would chairs look like?

I like Jordan Schafer. I like Josh Anderson, too. I look at both of those kids and see many common qualities. Actually, I see kind of the same player – except Schafer does it just a little better. In my opinion, Jordan Schafer is Josh Anderson, and then some. Schafer will be a star. Anderson will be a… well he’ll be on the roster. He’ll be on somebody’s roster, anyway. It may not be in Atlanta though. I think Jordan Schafer is taking the job and running with it, so to speak.

So Jeff Francoeur went 42 AB’s into spring before taking his first K. I gotta say, he really has made some wholesale changes to his approach at the plate. He better… Jason Heyward wants to play with the big boys in a bad way. Jason Heyward IS a big boy… and a superior talent. Jeff better start thinking about Delta for more than just endorsements.

When flies land on the ceiling, do they fly upside down and stick, or do they fly rightside up and flip at the last second?
duh2

The new pitching staff is really something. Derek Lowe has been all that and a bag of chips. Javy Vazquez has something to prove, and judging by his performance in the evil WBC, he means to prove it. Jair Jurjjens is poised to have a real breakout season. Kenshin Kawakami may have the best pure “stuff” on the staff. TommyH almost makes you wish TommyG was at home in his Barc-O-Lounger. Yet, TommyG is throwing better at this stage of his spring than in many before. Teams are calling and inquiring about Buddy Carlyle, for goodness sake. Good problems to have if you ask me. I want to see it against whole rosters, though, before anointing them as anything.

Yunel, KJ, Kotch… three solid performing consistent youngsters that may fly under a lot of people’s radar, but they will carry this team this year. Mark it, archive it, do whatever you want with it. VOR says that Yunel, KJ and Kotch will all have very solid, very consistent, very classic Braves type years. Bobby Cox will heap his accolades on those three all season long.

My 6-year-old daughter wrote a little storyhmmmm called, “I Ran Out Of Ink.” I started reading it but it was only 2 pages long. I don’t know why she didn’t finish it…

I bet Chipper is wishing he had gotten that contract extension before going to Canada and getting hurt again. He was what, 0 for 10 with 6 K’s, then pulled a muscle? Don’t get me wrong, I love Chipper Jones, and I hope he never puts on another uniform, but it’s gotta be tough for Frank Wren to think about 3 more years of Chipper when he can’t even swing a bat right now. I’m just sayin’…

Speaking of Frank, can we all agree that he had a plan, stuck hard to his blueprint, and by early results, did a pretty darn good job of building this year’s club? The pitching, from starting to relieving, looks rock solid. The infield is going to be outstanding both defensively and offensively. They may not lead the league in homers, but they may lead the league in extra base hits. They may also lead the league in RBI as a collective. Don’t laugh at that one. There will be a lot of RBI opportunities with this lineup. As Gil has many times said, there were a lot of RBI opportunities last season; they just didn’t drive ‘em in. That won’t happen outta this group this year. I’ll take consistent gap-to-gap hitters every day over all-or-nothing bashers.

teethWhat are you really supposed to do with your umbrella when you get to your car? If you take it down real quick and try to get in, you get water all over the place from the umbrella. If you try to get some of the water off before you get in, you get soaked doing it. And where do you put it? Seat? Floorboard? These may sound like trivial questions to some, but if you’ve got people in your passenger seats, this can be a daunting task.

I can’t wait for opening night. Plain and simple… I can’t. This spring has been too weird and too long already. I want to see MY team, all of them, and I want to see games that matter. I want to see jersey numbers under 60. Heck, I even want to hear Don Sutton, and I can’t believe I just typed that.

Thanks for paying attention. Now you know a little of what goes on in my mind. It’s kinda like a BB in a shoebox – it just kinda rattles around until it falls out.

L8r…

~Raisins~

BravesAndStuff@hotmail.com

68: The Hole In Our Hearts

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Fans KNOW the individual players on their team. They have an ‘emotional investment’ in them, if you will. Just having a warm body in a playing position creates a void in that emotional investment – and fans begin to turn away to find that which is missing. A TEAM has to consist of more than just a collection of people. There has to be a bond, a constant, a glue that holds them all together.

The constants that have been present with the Braves for SO long – TV coverage, Skip, Pete, Smoltz, Chipper and Bobby are disappearing rapidly. I’d bet the ranch that this is Bobby’s last year and, from Chipper’s comments, he’ll leave at the first good offer – especially with Bobby leaving.

The Braves are the Braves in name only.

We hated to see Andruw come apart because we KNEW him. We had watched him grow up.

We hated to see Glavine leave because he was one of US. We felt betrayed.

A part of each of us died when Skip died because we KNEW him and loved him dearly. He was our link to the team, he was their voice, he was our voice.

And Pete’s retirement was almost expected after Skip died. The two just belonged together and one without the other was just ‘wasn’t right.’ He’ll be so badly missed.

Without the TV coverage we had for so long, we feel suddenly cut off from our team with no recourse. Makes it harder to ’stay in touch’ with them. Distance grows.

And Bobby. We love him, we get aggravated with him, but again, he’s always been there, it seems. Few remember the early days BBC – Before Bobby Cox. How unreal will it be for him to be missing from that top step, yelling encouragement, or hobbling out to the mound?

Chipper’s eyes are now wide open. He knows he’ll be playing elsewhere very soon now, especially after Bobby retires. No illusions.

John Smoltz. A true warrior if there ever was one. If Tommy LaSorda bled ‘Dodger Blue’, then surely the Braves Tomahawk beats in John Smoltz’s chest. After all these years and all he’s been through to keep pitching, he is badly disrespected by the current management. Gone in a flurry of bad decisions, severely hurt feelings and ill-will.

Well, at least we had it once and that’s more than many fans can say. The Braves are a 3rd rate team and will most likely stay there. I’m not excited about them anymore. I hope that will change, but I’d be surprised if it does. I don’t like being blind-sided.

~CL~

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65: What a revoltin’ development!

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by Carolina Lady

Stuffville, USA – Well, as Riley would say, “What a revoltin’ development this is!” (If you don’t know who Riley is, Google it.) High hopes and expectations thwarted at every turn, it seems.

Sheets, anyone?
Randy Johnson for one year?
Lowe? I doubt it.
Who else that would be an improvement over what we already have??

What about the outfield?
Pray for Frenchy! We need him to come storming back this year!
Who’s in left?
Center?

About the only positions fairly certain are Chipper at 3rd and McCann behind the plate.

Haven’t heard a peep about Kotchman.

Where’s Ohman? Didn’t the Braves make an offer? What’s up with that?

Will Bobby come back in ’10?
50/50, I think. He’ll hate to walk away from a challenge, but then maybe he’ll just be tired of it. Who will take his place?

We don’t even have the broadcast booth covered for this coming season!

OK – what do you think Wren will do? What will the roster look like at the end of ST? Will Smoltz be successful in his return? Will Glavine give it a go? Who is going to wash the dishes? (Never mind, I know the answer to that one!)

Don’t complain about the lead; it’s all I could come up with in :15! 😆

~CL~

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47: the broadcaster I grew up listening to

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by Berigan

JONESBORO, GA – I ain’t a beat writer….can’t get scoops from the players sitting in front of my computer in Jonesboro! Oh sure, I could make stuff up, like Dyan Perry does. 😉 Or you can just say something like some writers do but that ain’t write right.

So something I can write about, at least a little bit, is baseball broadcasters I have heard through the years. I have listened to Skip and Pete longer than any others in my life. They don’t work much together these days, but any time I hear them together, or separately, it’s like putting on a pair of very comfortable shoes. It just feels good! Even when you hear good ones you really don’t know how very good they are ’til you hear bad ones. And, boy howdy! (do the youngsters today still say that???), have I heard some bad ones! With the Yankees, you can hear John Sterling and some woman with a shrill voice convince millions that baseball is not a very good game….I really can’t listen to many people do baseball on the radio, that is a special talent few truly possess.

But, I’m not going to write about Skip and Pete, or the really bad ones today. Lately, for some reason I have been thinking back to the broadcaster I grew up listening to….the late, great Jack Buck.

Jack BuckI’m sure most everyone here has heard, or at least heard of, Jack Buck….but, unless you listened to him call Cardinal games while driving around at night (or doing Monday night football with Hank Stramm on CBS radio) you never really heard Jack in his element, at his best.

Something about him calling games on CBS TV seemed…subdued. Like some know-nothing kid producer had said “Jack, you can’t be a homer, don’t get too excited, just call the game. You ain’t just broadcasting to some hicks in and around St. Louis, this is the big time!” 🙄 Plus, with Tim McCarver never shutting up about all he could do is call balls, strikes and hits.

Which was a shame. Because Jack Buck was as funny as anyone, anywhere, when he got on a roll. So much great stuff he did (MC charities, host local roasts, had his own non-baseball show on KMOX) is just sitting, gathering dust, not likely to ever be heard again. Pre-Internet, pre-youtube. I’m curious if anyone here who heard Jack only on TV, even thought of him as a funny guy!

He had a great guy in the booth that he clearly felt comfortable with, Mike Shannon. If you like Skip and Pete, you would like Jack and Mike in their prime.

But, there were times when he was able to shine through on national TV, when something magical happened, and he couldn’t contain his excitement, like Kirk Gibson hitting a homer off Eckersley, and no one even thought it was possible he could play in the series.

Broadcaster Marty Brennaman on that moment:

“The thing that amazes me about him — and all of us have our own styles — he understated things to the extent that they more than adequately conveyed what people saw and thought. When Kirk Gibson hit the home run off Dennis Eckersley to win the World Series game, he said seven words: ‘I don’t believe what I just saw.’ And that conveyed everything that people in Dodger Stadium were thinking [and] people watching on TV or listening on the radio. He said it exactly the way it was. That’s a talent that very few people like us in this business have.”

some quotes by Jack….

“It’s such a beautiful sport, with no politics involved, no color, no class. Only as a youngster can you play and as a pro can you win. The game has kept me young, involved and excited and for me to be up here with gems of baseball”

“It (George Steinbrenner’s new yacht) was a beautiful thing to observe with all thirty oars working in unison.”

“The biggest kick I get is to communicate with those who are exiled from the game — in hospitals, homes, prisons — those who have seldom seen a game, who can’t travel to a game, those who are blind.”

“When Harry and I were doing the games together, we were as good as a team as there ever was. His style and mine were so different that it made for a balanced broadcast. The way we approached the job, with the interest and love both of us had for the game, made our work kind of special.”

Some quotes about Jack by the people who knew and loved him…and were helped by him.

From Skip Caray:
“It seemed like he took a liking to me right away. There were always people trying to warm up to me because of who my Dad was. Jack wasn’t like that. He genuinely liked me and wanted to help me with my broadcasting career.

He was doing play-by-play for St. Louis University basketball games and wanted me to come and do color analysis with him. There was a point that he thought basketball on the radio was boring. So we started taking turns doing the play-by-play. When St. Louis had the ball, Jack was talking and when the opponent had the ball, I was talking.

There was one game in which there was a loose ball after a rebound and neither of us knew who should be talking. There was silence for about 10 seconds and then we both just started laughing. So needless to say, our innovative idea ended there. The 10 or so games that I did with him doing SLU games gave me valuable experience and helped me get where I am today.

A few years later, there were some people with the St. Louis Hawks organization that remembered hearing those broadcasts and gave me the chance to do their games. When they moved to Atlanta, I went with the team and it helped me get the job with the Braves.”

And everyone’s favorite Chip Caray (hey, I like him, and that’s all that really matters! 😛 ) was helped by Jack as well. He talked about Jack just after he died:

“Jack is the voice of baseball in St. Louis. He was as big as Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray combined, and I really believe to this day maybe the best ever broadcast team in the history of this game was Buck and Caray in the old days on KMOX.Buck, Caray, Garigiola
I grew up in St. Louis and I was one of those typical kids who fell asleep with the radio on under his pillow listening to Jack and Jay Randolph and Mike Shannon broadcasting games from the West Coast.

I auditioned for one of the Cardinals jobs several years ago and I was sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Pittsburgh reading the newspaper, scared to death. This quarter comes flying out of the air and lands right on my newspaper and I look up and it was Jack and his wife. He came up to me and said, “Good luck.” He gave me a pat on the back and said welcome. He said, “I hope everything goes well.” And then he said, “By the way, don’t screw it up.”

…..Obviously, his health has not been very good [towards the end] and he handled himself with such great humor and great class. I wanted to interview him in the booth and talk to him about what he’s seen and he said, “Hey, guys, what’s shaking besides me?” He had Parkinson’s disease and he immediately made everyone else feel comfortable around him.

He was the voice of summer and a huge influence in my career. He went out of his way to make me feel comfortable and he always had a smile on his face and a song in his heart.”

Having listened to Jack Buck broadcast, I’d say you could see the smile on his face and the joy in his voice for the game. I think that’s why Chip’s style doesn’t grate on me, like it clearly does others. Chip needed to sound, and be, as different from his father and grandfather as he could. I hear a bit of Buck’s ‘hey, I’ve got the best job in the world’ in Chip’s voice….perhaps Jack sounded more sincere to others broadcasting that way.

Like Chip, I can remember staying up late, with a high tech transistor radio under my pillow listening to the Cards play past my bedtime. I’d swear Jack was almost as disappointed as I was that Willie Stargell had somehow bested us yet again late in the game, or when Manny Mota with a pinch hit, drove in the winning run for the Dodgers (when I really was staying up late!), though I don’t think he had tears running down his cheek, swearing I’d never listen to another Cardinal game like I was. But, like any true idiot fan of baseball, the dawn of a new day would make the reality that the Cards were not a very good team, somehow an insignificant fact, and I would be back for more….more close games, more losses, and more enjoyment listening to Jack Buck have a great time calling a game, and telling stories.

Of course, when I moved away from St. Louis in 1983, I was already on the outs with the team as well (as I have mentioned before, they traded darn near everyone off the team) and the KMOX signal didn’t always come in real well all the way down in Jacksonville, but….a taste of home was always there at 1120 on my AM dial any time I wanted it (and the station was coming in). And when I moved to Atlanta, it came in even better…and Jack was always there…..

Jack BuckBut I noticed around 2000, he didn’t sound quite the same. He was a longtime smoker, and it seemed to finally be taking a toll on the best radio voice ever, IMHO. He now sounded hoarse, like he had been screaming, and….old. I didn’t know how little time he had left. He was missing games, and in and out of the hospital. He had one more moment though left to give….he read a little poem he wrote that he spoke the day baseball returned after 9-11. I remember ESPN showing it and chills running up and down my spine…watch this! Once again, he brought me to tears with his words.

He died June 18th, 2002, at the age of 77. I wish I could tune in to KMOX, and hear him one more time mention Busch beer, and say one more time….. that’s a winner!

John Francis Buck

John Francis Buck

1924 – 2002

~Berigan~

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Blog Birthdays

ChrisKlob: Feb 4

Raisins: Mar 13

Berigan: Mar 15

Gil: Apr 15

Salty: Apr 22

FloridaBravesGirl: Jul 8

Skip Caray: Aug 12

Miss Josie: Aug 18

Carolina Lady: Oct 7

BravesAndStuff: Dec 5, 2007


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