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How About Some Smiles

That old adage about April showers bringing May flowers got a bit carried away with itself as the last weekend of the previous month left us all a bit waterlogged. Hopefully, on the flower side of it, they will be in abundance to celebrate this weekend’s Mother’s Day activities.

From this little corner of the world, best wishes are sent out to all Moms out there. In reality, Moms should be celebrated every day for what each one means to all of us. A few years ago, I penned a Mother’s Day column saluting five Little League moms who took the time to serve as my Team Mothers spanning the twenty-some years I coached in Little League. Some of them reached out to me, and we relived great memories from the past. I still remember and thank each one of you for all you helped our teams accomplish.

With April’s last weekend a washout for outdoor activities, I gave my full attention to the remarkable achievements of my Pittsburgh Pirates. If you are a Pirates fan, when things are going well, you can’t help but wonder when the bubble will burst, and they will revert to being those ‘old Pirates’ once again. But, while it lasts, it must be enjoyed.

The Bucco’s 20-9 April record was the team’s best start since 1992 and seeing ‘Pittsburgh’ atop the National League standings was akin to a magnificent mirage. By the time this reaches print, the team’s recent six-game gauntlet against the best two teams in the American League (Tampa Bay and Toronto) could have been a rude awakening. But for all you long-suffering Pirates fans out there, enjoy it while it lasts.

While tuning in for a Pirates game, the sad announcement was made of the passing of long-time St. Louis Cardinals announcer Mike Shannon. Shannon was a good player with the Cardinals and went on to span a 50-year career behind the microphone calling Cardinal games.

His broadcasting style had its own unique home-spun type panache that appealed to Cardinal fans but could be a bit annoying for fans of the other team. He was a ‘homer’ who rooted hard for his team and voiced his displeasure when something went wrong with the hometown team.

Among his many memorable calls was this classic: “Good pitching will beat good hitting, and vice-versa.”

Ever since I was a little kid, listening to baseball games on the radio has been a favorite pastime. Even today, Jean enjoys listening to games on the car radio as we travel about. For many, baseball does not hold the romantic-type attraction it once did with the populous. But listening to the stories told by some of the greats who have called the games has provided memorable times.

Remembering Shannon’s quote led to pulling a recent baseball book gift off the shelve to thumb through its pages. Reading some of the quotes contained in the book brought smiles to my face on a dreary rainy day. Just for fun, a few of those are below.

Former Cardinal pitching great and announcer Dizzy Dean, known for his misuse of the language, was calling a Cardinal game. He noticed a commotion in the stands and reported to his listeners that “it has something to do with a fat lady.” A startled station executive pulled Dean away from the mic and told him the woman was the queen of the Netherlands. Dean, returning to the air, said, “I’ve just been informed that the fat lady is the queen of Holland.”

When talking about a rookie, Phillies announcer Richie Ashburn once told listeners, “The kid doesn’t chew tobacco, smoke, drink, curse, or chase broads. I don’t see how he can possibly make it.”

Brent Musburger talking about a 2000 game between the Cubs and Braves played in Tokyo: “It’s too bad ol’ Harry Carey himself didn’t get to sing ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game.’ Can you just hear the Japanese saying, ‘They have an announcer named what?’”

Hall of Fame great Rogers Hornsby once told a reporter, “I don’t want to play golf. When I hit a ball, I want someone else to go chase it.”

Former Phillies outfielder Garry Maddox, a bit annoyed when asked by a reporter to describe a grand-slam home run he had hit; “As I remember it, the bases were loaded.”

Pete Rose: “It doesn’t take much to get me up for baseball. Once the National Anthem plays, I get chills. I even know the words to it now.”

Former Williamsport Grays manager Frank Lucchesi at a press conference when he was named manager of the Texas Rangers; “I’m not making predictions, but I think there has only been one man more optimistic than I am. That was General Custer, who told his men, don’t take any prisoners.”

New York Yankees outfielder Paul O’Neill during an interview after being traded to the team from the Reds in 1993. “It’s cool. It’s a beautiful stadium, and the crowds are amazing. The fans, the fights, the beer throwing, the noise level. There’s so much excitement it makes me wonder what it would be like here if the team becomes a winner.”

Words of wisdom. Sports are great. Don’t take life so seriously. Smile, laugh, have fun, and tell Mom how much she has meant to you!