Growing up in the 60s, if you loved sports, as I did/still do, you spent hours listening to games on a transistor radio. There certainly wasn’t “Cable” television back then; heck, there wasn’t even color television, let alone “HD,” “interactive,” or whatever else television technology has evolved into. And of course, there were no “big screen” television sets either. We had a 19" Zenith black and white television and we received three channels: 4, 5 and 7 (in Boston), and as much as sports was/is important in Boston/New England, viewing options, given the limited VHF/UHF band frequencies, meant listening to games on radio – AM radio. Games were regularly televised on weekends, more so if the home team was playing on the road.
As the decades have passed, so too have transistor radios, black and white televisions and limited viewing on only three channels. Between “Cable,” computers, and more recently, the introduction of hand-held devices, access to and familiarity with sports has grown exponentially. Add in the explosion of sports-talk radio and the abundance of sports-themed content on television (regardless of whether the games are at home or on the road) and one could be in his “man cave” for hours on end “channeling” his – or her – passion, for any team, in any city, at almost any time.
I don’t have a “man cave,” but I do have a passion. Annually, I buy the MLB Baseball package so I can watch my beloved Boston red Sox whenever and wherever they play. It is not the bane of my existence, it is quite the opposite; it is my raison d’être, if truth be told. And instinctively, whenever I’m in the car driving somewhere, if the Orioles or Nationals are playing, I am listening to them on radio, as a long-time habit. It conjures images, memories and dreams of a lifetime (adolescence, really) stretching back over 50 years: Curt Gowdy, Ned Martin and Ken Coleman on radio for the Red Sox, the legendary Johnny Most for the Celtics and Fred Cusick and Bob Wilson for the Bruins. I hung on their every word nightly during the week, and afternoons on weekends; typically when their games were played. What I heard affected my life – to this day. As a result (partially), I am a “sports” guy. Not a “tool” guy. Not a “car” guy. Not a “do-it-yourself/fixer-upper” guy. Nor am I any other category of “guy” you know of or can think of. “I yam what I yam.” Though I’ve never been a sailor man, either.
And as a “sports” guy, my dream was to play in the Major Leagues for the Boston Red Sox. As much as I practiced, it didn’t happen (although I did play for the Little League Red Sox from 1964–67, ages 9–12). But through the staying power of radio – and the frequency of baseball games (162-game schedule) – I have realized my dream of playing in the Major Leagues, or at least hearing my last name called during Major League games.
There is a player for the Toronto Blue Jays named Brett Lawrie, an infielder, third baseman, mostly. When the announcers call his last name, it sounds nearly identical to mine, Lourie. And when I hear his name called on radio by Oriole’s radio voices, Joe Angel and Jim Hunter (the Blue Jays were in town this past weekend for a four-game series), it almost brings a tear to my eyes. Obviously it’s not me they’re “calling,” but it sure sounds like it. And for that moment, my dream seems like a reality.