Thursday, April 24, 2014

Swiiiiiiing, And A Miss...

When I was eleven years old I wanted to be Johnny Knoxville. This was evident by the hysterical number of gags I would pull on my friends and sisters that always ended as brutally as season nine of “Scrubs”.

And this is where I learned the principle of being grounded.

For full effect, download “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” by Harry Caray, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

After my shenanigans, my parents would banish me to the windowless cell that I called my room, a cell lined with posters of NBA superstars and those glow-in-the-dark plastic stars we all used to stick to our ceilings with secondhand gum. There I would lay on my bed in the dark, pull out my vintage Audiovox cassette player, position the antennae at just the right angle, play around with the wheel on the front that would be targeted for 1320 KFAN, and I would listen to Steve Klauke, the baritone voice of the Salt Lake Buzz, broadcast games long into the night.

That was the best therapy I ever had for being grounded as a kid.

Now I know in the past I have blogged about my loathing for the sport of baseball. But before you roll your eyes in disgust and think this will be just another rant about the most mundane physical activity created since curling or test cricket, hold on just a second, take a deep breath, and hear me out as I relive my childhood memories through a 700-word blogpost.

You see, there once was a point in my life where baseball meant something to me, it had value in my eyes; or, in my ears, actually. On those lonely nights when I was banished to the basement for putting chicken seasoning in the showerhead of my sisters’ bathroom, or throwing a basketball at my neighbor’s little brother's face, the only thing to keep me company was the sure and steady monologue of Steve Klauke, giving me a play-by-play recap of my favorite minor league baseball team.

Those were the nights I tell ya. Back when dusk smelled like recycled barbecues and there was no such thing as a bedtime, those were the nights. And baseball, well, that was my asylum. Minor league baseball was my Christmas in summer as I would lay in bed and listen to my hometown Salt Lake Buzz engage in heated battles with teams like the Albuquerque Dukes, the Tucson Toros, and the squad who I thought was their arch-rival at the time, the Tacoma Rainiers.

And you see, I was a fan. Not some Robert De Niro-going-to-stalk-Wesley Snipes kind of guy, although I’m sure hardly any of you caught that reference to the absurdly dark film about a lurking baseball freak, no, I was a loyal Salt Lake Buzz fan, through and through. I could tell you the E.R.A. for LaTroy Hawkins, or the batting average of Chris Latham, to this day I know how many errors Denny Hocking made in 1996, that’s how devoted I was as an eleven-year old kid.

As a kid, minor league baseball was pure happiness. It was the extra scoop of rainbow sherbet you would sneak into your mouth when your parents had their backs turned after dinner. It was better than using a Game Genie to get unlimited spread fire and cheat your way to beating Contra. As a kid, those hours spent with a radio broadcast of a minor league team were better than Home Alone 2 and Space Jam combined. They were priceless.

It’s been years since those glory nights of summertime baseball, and you know what, every now and then I do get a little bit sentimental thinking about the Great American Pastime being transmitted to grounded little kids in the basement. Last week on a road trip up north I was surfing through the airwaves of AM radio and heard a familiar voice, a voice calling out phrases I haven’t heard since the Clinton Administration.

Steve Klauke: “Here’s the pitch, line drive to center field, Chavez back at the track, it’s up there, it’s out there, and it’s gone!”

Those were the nights, I tell you. Those were the nights.

What do you think?

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