For fans of big league baseball, this is a great time of the year. Spring training games have started, and first pitch of the regular season is less than one month away.
I can’t wait to call Ron Swoboda when his Mets are in the first (of many) tailspins this season. We will share a laugh, and he will rattle my cage about the Cardinals and their two-year absence from the postseason.
The game keeps me connected to a lot of people, including former UNO head baseball coach and director of athletics Ron Maestri. Mase is a Cubs fan, and, unfortunately, he has a lot to crow about lately.
It is fun to talk baseball with the voice of Tulane athletics, Todd Graffagnini, an unabashed fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. When his Dodgers got to the World Series a year ago, he was like a kid at Christmas. Good for him.
In our office, Karen Loftus, a Maryland native, is a huge fan of the Baltimore Orioles.
Robert O’Shields, who grew up in Alabama, is an Atlanta Braves super fan. When the new park opened last year in suburban Atlanta, Robert just had to be there. He had so much fun, he came back convinced the Braves would be a contender in 2018.
Must have been some park.
When we were kids, my buddy Rich Reiser and I would take turns calling a local sports radio station that updated the scores in the major leagues every 15 minutes. Rich was, and still is, a huge fan of the Chicago White Sox. Now, there’s a team in Chicago I can cheer for.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for the start of the baseball season. Way after dark, I could listen to the St. Louis Cardinals on 50,000-watt KMOX. Their legendary announcer Jack Buck got me through high school and college. I would sit at my desk, and after several innings, my homework would be done.
When the Cardinals won, Buck would say, “That’s a winner!” When I heard that, I slept contentedly at night.
I went to my first Cardinals game at the old Busch Stadium on Grand Avenue in 1963. I was absolutely hooked.
The new Busch Stadium is not my favorite ballpark. That would be PNC Park in Pittsburgh. It is an absolute gem.
Last August, Robert O’Shields and I were sitting behind home plate watching the Pirates play the Cincinnati Reds. As we looked out, Clemente Bridge was in the background, and beyond that, downtown. It was an awesome scene.
The seats at PNC Park are tilted to the field. And, here’s the best thing about the yard: They serve Primanti Brothers. Their signature sandwich is beef with this delicious Italian slaw, tomato and french fries, in between two pieces of Italian bread.
In the seventh inning, I just could not believe how clean PNC Park was. There were workers cleaning up everywhere. I want to go back, very soon.
One of the best things about April through September is coming home late at night after work and watching all the games on the West Coast. I’ll have the channel with as many as eight games up on the TV, watching each intently.
My wife just laughs. I tell her that I love her more than the Cardinals. I can’t think of a better compliment.
Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at email@example.com.