Leroy Tillman passed away last week.
Most of you have no idea who Leroy was. Most recently he did PR for a local area hospital. But 30 years ago, plus or minus, Leroy produced my show on WTOP. He previously had produced Ken Beatrice's show on WMAL. And later on he worked for George Michael at Channel 4.
Leroy was a sports fan, and he really liked baseball. He once asked me to help him find an old flannel-era Orioles' uniform that he could afford, and I found someone who sold him a Tom Dukes' jersey for a decent price. He couldn't wear it - heck, he was a good 6'5" and 250 pounds - but he loved it nonetheless. When a relative later expressed some admiration for it, he gave it away.
Leroy Tillman was unfailingly polite, always in a good mood, and a hard worker with a laugh that started somewhere in the basement and reached a crescendo upon exiting his lips. I ran into him from time to time over the years, and he occasionally called my show on 980.
Those of you old enough to remember sports talk radio in DC in the late 70's and early 80's no doubt spoke with him at some point. A huge loss for the human race.
Oh, before I forget, greetings from the Volunteer State.
I'm in Tennessee for a few days to chat with some students at my alma mater - Austin Peay - about careers in the communications industry. They've been having me come down for the past five years or so, and I'm happy to do it.
Austin Peay State University isn't the first school you think of when it comes to baseball, but they've done okay as far as small schools (under 10,000 students) are concerned with producing professional players. Currently there's ex-Orioles' closer George Sherrill and catcher A.J. Ellis with the Dodgers, and GM Jack Zduriencek and reliever Shawn Ellis with the Mariners. Left-hander Jamie Walker retired last year after a career with several teams. A few other ex-APSU Govs are toiling in the minors. My point is, if you've got a son playing high school ball, it wouldn't hurt to take a look at the Peay. Clarksville is a great town, too, and just up the road from Nashville. But I digress....
In chatting with Dave Johnson , one of my Saturday broadcast partners, the other day, we discussed some of the rhetoric that comes out of spring training when it's only pitchers and catchers. Here's one we both like, courtesy of a big league pitching coach:
"I like the way the ball comes out of his hand."
Really? What was it coming out of previously?
Why not just say, "I like the way when he throws the ball. It goes toward home plate where the catcher is. Shoot, he used to hit vendors behind the dugouts..."
I know that part of it is based on the need to say something without actually revealing anything. It's why there's usually very little that's actually newsworthy produced when you interview an active player/manager/coach/executive.
Back in the late 1970's I thought that nose density was a prerequisite for playing in the NHL. Covering a Capitals' draft in the 1970's, executive - and former coach - Red Sullivan came out of the war room after each round to give us a soundbite on Washington's latest pick.
By the fifth round or so, the assembled media realized that Red had described every pick the same way, regardless of the position they played. "Real hard-nosed kid, good hockey head, loves to compete."