I know you’ve heard me say, “You never know what’s going to happen when you come to the ballpark,” and that’s never been more true than the two-game series with the Mets this week.
I have been broadcasting Major League Baseball since 1984, and I remember as a young broadcaster talking to the late Jack Buck, a legendary announcer in St. Louis. He said, “Kid, every night you come to the ballpark, you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.” It was a slight exaggeration, but it holds true many nights, especially when you think you’ve seen it all.
Angel Pagan’s inside-the-park home run Wednesday was the fourth I’ve seen in 27 years of announcing major league games, and I vividly remember the others, if not the years when they happened.
The first was slow-running catcher Tom Nieto of the Cardinals in my first year, 1984. He singled up the middle on a looping liner. The center fielder rushed in and the ball bounced off the spongy AstroTurf, over his head, and rolled to the 414-foot mark. We thought Tom was going to collapse between third and home but he made it, and I kid him about it to this day whenever I see him.
The second was in the early ’90s when Pittsburgh’s Carlos Garcia hit one off the center field wall at Dodger Stadium and the ball deflected off the outfielder and rolled sideways along the warning track. Fred Lynn was with me in the ESPN booth and remarked that the other fielders didn’t give any help on the play. He should know, as one of the best defensive outfielders ever.
The third was Austin Kearns at RFK on another crazy bounce off the wall in that cavernous ballpark.
Then, there was Pagan slamming one off the CF wall at Nationals Park. Our wall in center doesn’t face back toward second base, so the angle of the carom gave the speedy Pagan the time he needed to circle the bases, a trip of 360 feet, or 120 yards, and a long way to go in a short time when you’re not running in a straight line.
I know I’ve seen two triple plays, but for the life of me I can’t remember the first one. Oh, well...
I’ve called two no-hitters, both by rookie St. Louis pitchers (Jose Jimenez and Bud Smith), and one perfect game, though it lasted five innings. Montreal’s David Palmer was perfect through five innings in St. Louis, also my first season, when the rains came and never stopped. It went into the record book with an asterisk.
Maybe we should get a thread going on your most vivid memory of something crazy you’ve seen during a major league game. Please, no T-Ball or Little League stories - those could fill up our entire web site.
Come on now, remember and write in!