Thursday, February 27, 2014

Baseball has been asleep for a while, welcome, the game is coming back

NOTE: this is my annual first-spring-training-game post.

Back when I was a bit younger (we'll call it the late '80s and early-mid '90s, a time when I wasn't quite a teenager), I remember running home from school on the day that Spring Training games finally began, or at least the day of the first broadcast on WFAN (for some reason, I had no, or chose not to use, a walkman). I would look forward to hearing the voices that I knew meant baseball for the first time after the long offseason.

On the eve of the fist Spring Training game, I bring you two treats.

First up is a 1 minute audio clip from the Mets first broadcast on WFAN from Spring Training 1998. I won't say any more, other than the voice is forver the voice of the Mets...

Second is about 6 1/2 minutes in length, coming from another 1998 Spring Training game. This one is most of half of an inning from a road game against St. Louis in Jupiter's inaugural season. The play-by-play voice again belongs to Bob Murphy with Gary Cohen along side.

I invite any readers to submit or link to their own Spring Training audio and video from the 1980s and 1990s.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mets Announcers at the Olympics

This is an updated post from ones I did in 2010 and 2012.

With this Winter Olympics underway, I decided to take a look and see which past and present Mets broadcasters have worked at the Olympics. I found a few more than I had expected. It wouldn't surprise me if there was an omission from this list. If you don't want to do all that reading, head down to the bottom of the post for a few sound bytes from a current Mets announcer calling an Olympic sport.

  • Jiggs McDonald - Best known as a Hall of Fame Hockey broadcaster and voice of the Islanders on TV from 1980-81 through 1994-95, he called Mets games on SportsChannel in 1982.
    He called Ice Hockey at the 1998 Calgary Winter Games for ABC and at the 1992 Albertville and 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games for TNT, and also Basketball for CTV in Canada at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Games.
  • Don Criqui - Known for his work calling NFL and College Football and College Basketball for NBC and CBS TV and Radio, he was listed as a fill in announcer for the Mets in 1991 (which I don't really remember, but have seen his name listed in some announcer lineups and it was noted in the NY Times).
    He called play-by-play for Swimming at the 1988 Seoul Summer Games and Water Polo at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games for NBC and hosted NBC's Olympics Triplecast PPV broadcast at the 1992 Barcelona Summer Games.
  • Kenny Albert - Best known for his work with the NFL and MLB on FOX and Rangers on the radio and NHL on NBCSN, he was a fill-in announcer for Bob Murphy during the summer of 2001 on WFAN.
    He's called play-by-play for NBC's Olympic Ice Hockey coverage at the 2002 Salt Lake City, 2006 Turino, 2010 Vancouver and now 2014 Sochi Winter Games for NBC.
  • Ed Coleman, former Mets fill-in announcer and host of Mets Extra on WFAN.
    He "did some radio work" at the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Barcelona Summer Games for NBC Radio and the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Games for CBS Radio.
  • Howard Cosell - best known from his work on Monday Night Football and Boxing on ABC, he was actually the first pre-game host for the Mets Radio broadcasts in 1962 on WABC Radio.
    He was part of ABC TV's Olympic coverage in the 1972 Munich Summer Games and called Boxing at the 1976 Montreal and 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games
  • Tim McCarver - Known at one point as the best analyst in Baseball, he's been a lead analyst for ABC, CBS, ABC again, and FOX and was a Mets broadcaster on WOR/WWOR and SportsChannel from 1983 to 1998.
    As part of ABC Sports in the late '80s, he called Freestyle Skiing and served as a reporter at the 1988 Calgary Winter Games, and as part of CBS Sports the early '90s, he was a co-host of CBS's primetime coverage of the 1992 Albertville Winter Games
  • Gary Thorne - Best known as ESPN and ABC's lead NHL announcer, he was a Mets Radio announcer from 1985 to 1988 on WHN/WFAN and a Mets TV announcer on WWOR, WPIX, and FSN New York from 1994 to 2002.
    He called Speed Skating for CBS at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, Canoeing and Rowing for NBC at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games, and Ice Hockey for NBC at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.
  • Ted Robinson - Best known as the lead Tennis commentator for NBC and the Tennis Channel, he was a TV and Radio announcer for the Mets from 2002 to 2005 on WPIX, FSN New York, and WFAN.
    He holds the record for past/present Mets broadcasters making his 8th Olympic broadcast appearance, having called Short Track Speed Skating, Freestyle Skiing, and Giant Slalom Snowboarding for CBS at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, and for NBC, he called Baseball at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games, Short Track Speed Skating at the 2002 Salt Lake City, 2006 Turino, and 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Speed Skating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Diving and Canoeing at the 2004 Athens Summer Games, Diving again at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Summer Games.
  • Gary Cohen - Best known for his work calling New York Mets baseball, he's been the TV voice of the Mets on SNY and WPIX since 2006 and was a voice of the Mets on WFAN from 1989 to 2005.
    He called Ice Hockey for CBS Radio at the 1992 Albertville, 1994 Lillehammer, and 1998 Nagano Winter Games, including all 3 Gold Medal contests

Here are some sound bytes of Gary Cohen at the 1998 Winter Olympics.
A disclaimer. These broadcasts are probably the copyright of the IOC, USOC, CBS Radio and/or WFAN. I recorded them using an old fashioned walkman plugged into my computer in 1998, live, as the events happened.

Gary Cohen at the 1998 Olympics Men's Ice Hockey tournament (CBS Radio):
Czech Republic wins the Men's Ice Hockey Gold Medal

Czech goalie Dominik Hasek with 3 great saves against the U.S.

Mike Modano scores for Team USA

Mikhail Shtalenkov with a save for Russia

Petr Svoboda with a goal for the Czech Republic

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Kiner's Korner

"Hello everybody, welcome to Kiner's Korner, I'm Ralph Korner."

I'm too young to remember the early years of the Mets. I don't remember the days of the original 3 - Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy, and Ralph Kiner. I don't remember the early days of Kiner's Korner. I'm certainly too young to remember Ralph Kiner as a Home Run king. I only know Ralph Kiner as a TV announcer for the Mets on WWOR with only the Sunday edition of his Kiner's Korner post-game show starting for me in the late 1980s.

But with the rotation (both during the game and from season to season) of announcers on Mets TV over my first decade as a fan, there was Ralph, a constant, and usually along side eventual Hall of Fame Broadcaster Tim McCarver. Even at a young age, and before I could really appreciate the history, I understood that Ralph Kiner was an original. In a way for me, those are the glory days of Mets broadcasts. A Sunday afternoon watching Channel 9 with Ralph Kiner and Tim McCarver and Kiner's Korner after the game. The team wasn't good for most of that time, but I didn't necessarily care. The broadcasts were entertaining. And that was led by Ralph Kiner.

Kiner's Korner faded away some time in the mid-90s ( says 1995). The "glory days" as I knew them faded away too, but Ralph kept going. As I got older and I began to appreciate Mets history, I began to appreciate how original broadcasters Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy were still there calling games, having been there since that far away time of 1962. A new era (to be fair, probably a 4th new era in Mets history) dawned with Ralph no longer doing play-by-play (he had a bout with Bell's Palsy which affected his speech). But he never left the ball club. How could he? He was Ralph Kiner.

In his later years (the modern era), he only made a few appearances each season. He would come in only for a few innings at a time (something I never understood why it was so short), and it was usually pure gold.

In a few week, we'll reach the start of a new baseball season. Sad to think it will be the first Mets season which won't have Ralph Kiner in the booth.

"Going, going. Gone goodbye"

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