Monday, July 16, 2007

Channeling the ghost of Jack Buck

My first "Jack Buck" moment came last night. During his famous call of Kirk Gibson's home run to beat Dennis Eckersley and the Oakland A's in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Buck told the audience, "I don't believe what I just saw."

The stakes weren't exactly the same in my game or my call. OK, mine was a like a pebble of sand on Waikiki Beach compared to that game, but it was my own moment to use a Buck-esque phrase.

The scenario: tie game, 10th inning, second and third, one out. Stockton was intentionally walking Modesto's Travis Becktel to load the bases. Well, that was the plan. The second pitch sailed to the backstop for a wild pitch. The winning run scored on it.

Here is how I described it. Midway through the call, felt myself screaming a little too much, and tried to lower my voice, without losing the excitement or the drama. If you listen closely, you can tell when I flipped the mental switch in my brain to not scream.

You can never prepare for a call like that. It's all about your spontaneous call. Truth be told, I was lucky this called turned out how it did. For one, I was actually writing "IW" (intentional walk) in my scorebook when it happened. When I heard the crowd go crazy, I looked up and saw the catcher running to the backstop. I described the rest pretty well, although the perfectionist in me would have changed a few things.

"You've got to be kidding me," I said. After a pause, I then added, "Now I've seen it all." Made a conscious decision not to admit on the air that I didn't actually see it. I'll admit it here on this blog. It's easy to say, "never take your eyes off the field because you might miss something." That's true. But you have to look down at your scorebook and stat sheets. Nobody has a photographic memory. It's called note taking.

But I tell you what, I'll probably never look down during an intentional walk ever again.

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