Here’s one last post I prepared before taking off for my residency at the Vermont Studio Center. Baseball season is finally here, and when I asked my friend Bob Ringwald to write a guest post about his love for the game, he willingly agreed.My brother Doug introduced me to Bob Ringwald years ago — they’re both jazz musicians, and they play together from time to time. Bob is blind, and it sounds like he’s looking forward to baseball season as much as – maybe even more than? – I am!
Take me out to the ballgame
by Bob Ringwald
The New York Giants moved to San Francisco In 1958, and that’s when I became a Giants fan. I was at a game at Candlestick park on a day when Willie Mays hit four home runs! But in the 60s and 70s, after Willie Mays left the Giants, I was working 6 and 7-nights a week as a musician. I had no time to follow baseball.
We moved to Los Angeles in 1979. One night I happened to decide to listen to a Giants – Dodgers game on the radio, and that was it: Vince Scully, the amazing Dodger play-by-play announcer, won me over. He is the best I have ever heard, and believe me, I’ve heard a lot of baseball announcers. I became a dyed-in-the wool Dodger fan.
We moved back to Northern California some 18 years ago, but I’m still a Dodger fan. I bleed Dodger Blue. Dodgers games are not heard this far north in Sacramento, but I can listen to the games using my computer on MLB dot com.
That’s Bob–Molly’s dad–announcing the lineups (reading from a Braille lineup card) at Dodger Stadium.
When we were still living in Tinsel Town, the Dodgers had a promotion once where you wrote in which baseball job you’d like to do: hang with the grounds crew, drag the base path during the 7th inning, sit with the sports writers and write your own story, hang out with the umpires, that sort of thing. I wrote a letter saying that I wanted to be the Public Address announcer. I knew someone in the P.R. department, so I handed the letter to him. That way it wouldn’t get lost in the thousands of letters I knew might come in.
On July 27, 1991 I used my Braille skills to announce the lineup for a Los Angeles Dodgers – Montreal Expos game. Guess I passed the audition: they invited me to announce the players as they came up to bat in the bottom of the 3rd inning, too, and when I put a little extra English on my announcement of Darrell Strawberry’s name, the 50,000 people in the stands went crazy. What a sense of power!
Later I was invited to go out onto the field at Dodger Stadium to see what the pitcher’s mound, bases, base path and home plate really felt like. I jumped up against the center field wall like a big league outfielder. I picked up the phone they answer in the bullpen when managers call from the dugout. I sat in the Dodger dugout alongside the famous drinking fountain that angry players have been known to destroy with their bats, and, as if that wasn’t enough, I also had the honor to sit in Vince Scully’s chair in the press box. My tour that day ended in the Dodger exercise room. Legendary Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda was on the treadmill, and we had a very interesting chat.
In the early 80s, my daughter, actress and author Molly Ringwald, sang the National Anthem at several Dodger games. Fernando Valenzuela gave her a signed baseball. Another time she was given a baseball signed by all of the 1981 World Series Championship Dodgers. I proudly display those autographed baseballs in my office.
From time to time people ask me, “If you can’t see the action, why would you want to go to the game when you could just as easily be at home listening to it on the radio?” I sometimes answer by saying “Why would you want to go to the game when you can see the action better, close up, at home on TV?” I do take a portable radio to the game to hear the play by play. But there is something more. There is the electricity of the crowd, the sound of the ball hitting the bat and mitt, the P.A. announcer, the venders selling programs, ice-cream, peanuts and other assorted goodies. And of course at Dodger Stadium there are the famous Dodger Dogs. Dodger Dogs are just regular Farmer John hot dogs. But, once you walk through the turn styles of the ball park, they become a gourmet repast.
Care to guess where I’ll be later today? Yes . . . . we’re traveling 400 miles south from Sacramento to Los Angeles to attend the Dodgers vs. Giants opening day game at Dodger Stadium. Care to take a guess which team I’ll be rooting for???
You can check out more photos of Bob’s baseball days on his web site. Play ball!