About Andy Purvis

Andy Purvis is a local author and radio personality. If you enjoy the blog attached and love reading inspirational stories about some of our most famous athletes, then please visit www.purvisbooks.com for all the latest info on his books or to listen to the new radio podcast. Andy's books are available online or in e-book format and can also be found in the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Andy can be contacted at purvis.andy@mygrande.net. Also don't forget to listen to Dennis & Andy's Q & A Session right here on Sportsradiocc.com.

In the Dugout with Dennis & Andy

Dennis Quinn and I have been talking sports on the air waves of Corpus Christi together for twenty years.  We named our show Dennis & Andy’s Q & A Session because we not only wanted to bring the public great interviews but we are storytellers by nature and we enjoy educating our listeners about the history of the game.  Therefore, when you listen to us you’re in the Session.  We have also been blessed to have met so many of our heroes from the past, so we find it important to honor them when they leave us.  You will recognize the opening music of our shows as the “William Tell Overture” or the theme music from the Lone Ranger, one of our favorite television shows growing up.  And we always close with the music from the Jackie Gleason Show as one of us will say, “How Sweet It Is!”

I would like to thank ESPN 1440 KEYS and SportsRadioCC 1230 KSIX as we split our time between these two stations this past year.  I would also like to thank Henry Hernandez, Marty Robinson, and Dotson Lewis who sat in for either Dennis or me, as we traveled to acquire interviews.  We have had a blast while taking our listeners up front and center with some of the finest athletes and greatest coaches and broadcasters in the world of sports.  This year alone we have had 44 one-on-one interviews in the span of 52 weeks.  The list is long and varied but ties closely to our first love, baseball.  Having the Corpus Christi Hooks in town and a long-standing relationship with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers has made our jobs easier.

The year 2015 started off fast with a Hall-of-Fame announcer who joined us at least four times a year on air, the Houston Astros’ lead announcer for many years, Milo Hamilton.  He truly loved Corpus and being on our show.  Sad to say we lostMiloin September.  He will be missed.  Juan Castillo, offensive coach with the Baltimore Ravens and Jeff Lantz, the fellow in charge of Communications for Minor League Baseball, rounded out the month of January.  February would bring our yearly interview with former Buffalo Bills linebacker, Shane Nelson, about the Super Bowl.  The Astros’ Caravan would provide us interviews with former pitcher, Larry Dierker, and superstar, George Springer.  We also paid tribute to Ernie Banks and aired an older interview from 2004.  The South Texas Winter Banquet provided us time with legend Nolan Ryan, Astros’ General Manager Reid Ryan, retired local sportscaster, Dan McReynolds, and Orioles’ Minor League pitcher, Mark Blackmar, son of professional golfer Phil Blackmar.  We also finished up the month of March with interviews with former NFL official, Mike Pereira, of FOX Sports and Los Angeles Dodgers’ star outfielders, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson.

With three trips toHoustonduring the year, my partner Dennis Quinn led the league in Astros information.  They say April showers bring May flowers and along with the rain came interviews with Astros shortstop, Carlos Correa and Zvee Geffen, a representative of the TOPPS Sports Card Company.  Craig Biggio, the first member of the Astros to be elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, also joined us.  In May, we spoke with local long-distance runner, Gabe Lucido, who also ran in this year’s Boston Marathon.  Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer joined us again as the Astros looked to be “for real” this year.  The month of June got even better as Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado, and centerfielder, Adam Jones, joined Dennis and me on tape.  We also spoke to Nolan Ryan again, as the Hooks and TOPPS Baseball Card Company signed a national contest winner to a contract to become a “Hook-For-the-Day.”  Both Jose Altuve and George Springer made their second appearance on the show.

In July, Dennis traveled toHoustonfor the second time, and I had a chance to have Basketball Coach Ronnie Arrow and former All-Star pitcher and now Hooks’ President, Ken Schrom, join us.  I also met and interviewed localSolomonColesHigh Schoolplayers, Billy Sayles and Dee Hardeman, who played for the first team fromCorpus Christi,Texas, to win a state championship in baseball.  Texas A&M Islanders baseball Head Coach, Scott Malone and former Astros’ pitcher, J. R. Richards, joined us on air.  In August, Dennis brought back interviews with Red Sox stars, Dustin Pedroia and David “Big Papi” Ortiz, along with follow-up interviews with Jose Altuve, George Springer, Dallas Keuchel and Carlos Correa.  We couldn’t keep George Springer away.  He loved being on the show.  Keuchel was elected starting pitcher for the American League, for the July All-Star Game.  In September, we spoke with Mike Trout, Jose Altuve for the third time, and VP of Communication and Education for theBaseballHall-of-FameMuseum, Brad Horn.  It was quite a month.

Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, Carlos Correa of the Astros, joined us in October.  Correa would win the award.  It was his fourth time on Dennis & Andy’s Q & A Session.  Both Craig Biggio and Reid Ryan joined us again to speak about the passing of our dear friend, Milo Hamilton.

November would find us slowing down as the World Series ended with the Kansas City Royals on top, while football and basketball became front and center on the sports radar.  We managed to snag a great interview with hometown kid, Cliff Pennington, who had participated in the MLB playoffs with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Cliff became to first-ever position player to pitch in relief during a post-season game.  We finished strong in December with our NASCAR expert, Bob Doty.  At the end of each year we are always amazed at how many great folks that have joined us on the radio and we wonder how it can get any better.  The good news is, it always does.   You can always find our show dates and times in the radio section of the Caller Times sports page.  We are usually on Thursday nights from 6-7 PM, but occasionally moved to Tuesdays, same time.  The number to call if we hit a nerve is 361-884-1230.  If you missed our shows and would like to listen, please visit www.purvisbooks.com and press podcasts in the menu section.  There are nearly 150 hours of radio interviews that we have done since 2004.  Just choose an interview by name or date. Thanks for listening.

 

Andy Purvis

There were three days until Christmas: By Andy Purvis

There were three days until Christmas, at Sportsradio,

The best sports show in Corpus was all set to go.

The microphones were all live and the sound was turned up,

The Lone Ranger music was about to erupt.

 

Sliding Bill Doerner was ready, all snug in his chair.

He waits until 6 to put us on air.

With his finger he points and that’s when I say.

Welcome to Dennis & Andy’s Q & A.

 

I introduce my partner, whose name’s Dennis Quinn

He gives me a nickname as our show starts to begin.

I’m usually pretty good at getting it right,

He tries his hardest to stump me with all of his might.

 

Dennis has a broad face and a round little belly

That shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly

I’m chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laugh when I see him in spite of myself.

 

Sports is our passion, we don’t make this stuff up.

We ask trivia questions and the answers are tough.

884 1230 is the number to call,

Pick up the phone and join in, we are having a ball.

 

 

 

We line up interviews for all of our fans,

George Springer, Dan McReynolds, Gabe Lucido with a tan.

We talk Minor League pitching with Orioles Mark Blackmar,

And learn from Bob Doty about racing and NASCAR.

 

We’ve interviewed many this year including Carlos Correa.

We also talked football with FOX NFL official Mike Periera.

Mike Trout, Adam Jones, andMiloHamilton,

Are just some of the stars with whom we’ve had fun?

 

Red Sox stars Dustin Pedoria and Big Papi Ortiz

When joining the “Session” they all say their piece.

J.R. Richards,DallasKeuchel, Larry Dierker and Ken Schrom

Share funny stories while droping some bombs.

 

Reid Ryan of the Astros and Brad Horn from theHOF

Say nice things about us and call us by name.

We laugh and have fun and sing once in awhile,

While covering the “old school” stuff with a smile.

 

Shane Nelson, Juan Castillo, they gave us their time.

Jose Altuve, Joc Pederson and Cliff Pennington were kind.

With Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Craig Biggio,

The hour flies by, we don’t know where it goes.

 

We say Merry Christmas to each of our fans.

We thank the Caller Times for giving us a hand.

We enjoy all our listeners and ask them to call.

Give us your “take,” you could be right after all.

 

As we sign off, with our Pal Jackie Gleason,

We want you to understand, that you are our reason,

We come on each week and talk about the sports biz.

And we always end our show with “How Sweet it is.”

 

So thank youCorpus   Christifor listening to our show

You’ve helped us celebrate 20 years in a row.

We pray that all in your family remain happy and bright

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.

 

 

Andy Purvis

Race Against Time

On November 7, 1990, the Negro League Basebal lMuseum, located in Kansas City, Missouri, was created by a group of former Negro League players in a one-room office space that contained a round table and six chairs.  In two of those chairs sat Buck O’Neil and Slick Surratt.  The story goes; that they took turns paying the monthly rent to keep their dream alive.  This office space was part of the Lincoln Building, which is located at the Historic 18th and Vine Street, in the Jazz District.

To be clear, this building is not a Hall of Fame.  It is important to the Museum that they are not referred to as such.  The Negro League Baseball Museum (NLBM) was conceived as a museum to tell the complete story of Negro League baseball.  They do not hold any special induction ceremonies for honorees.  They believe that the National Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown,New York, is the proper place for recognition of baseball’s greatest players.  However, they do give special recognition with their exhibits, to those Negro League players who have been honored in Cooperstown.  In 1994, this group was able to expand into a 2,000 square-foot space.  They hung photographs and built interactive displays, and a number of film exhibits were added, all commemorating the history of Negro League baseball.  With the help of the city, a new 50,000 square-foot building opened in September of 1997, and theBaseballMuseummoved into their new space of 10,000 square feet.  They opened their doors in November of that same year.  Twelve bronze sculptures and many artifacts are now on display.

During the 1870s-1880s, over 50 African-Americans had played in leagues with white players.  In 1884, Moses Fleetwood Walker, a catcher, became the first Negro to reach the Major Leagues, with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association.  White pitchers refused to accept signs from a Negro catcher.   By 1887, all the ownership of white teams entered into an agreement that refused to sign anymore African-American players.  It would be 60 years before another black player joined the Major Leagues.  His name was Jackie Robinson.

In 1920, Andrew “Rube” Foster, a former player, manager and owner of the Chicago American Giants put in place the organized baseball group that would become known as the Negro Leagues.  Twenty-two different teams made up the Negro Leagues from 1920 until 1962.  Some of the more famous include:  the Birmingham Black Barons, Chicago American Giants, Indianapolis Clowns, Baltimore Elite Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, Newark Eagles, New York Black Yankees, Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Memphis Red Sox.

In 1945, Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers recruited Jackie Robinson from the Kansas City Monarchs.  He became the first African-American in the modern era to play on a Major League team.  Jackie would make his Major League debut in 1947.  Unfortunately this event, while historic in civil rights history, eventually spelled the end of the Negro Leagues, as many fine Negro League players joined the Major League ranks and their fans followed suit.   Some of those names are well known such as Larry Doby, Monte Irvin, Roy Campanella, “Satchel” Paige, Ray Dandridge, “Junior” Gilliam, Luke Easter, Hank Thompson, “Minnie” Minoso, Willie Mays, Henry Aaron and Don Newcombe.

From 1920 through 1962, the end of the Negro League era, more than 2,500 men and, yes, women contributed to the Negro League games as players, coaches, managers and executives.  It is estimated that approximately 120 former Negro League players are still living.  Most of them played at the tail end of the era.  For them, this museum has definitely been a race against time.

As of this writing, there have been 35 former Negro League players inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  Not all of them played in the Major Leagues, but they were honored for their contributions to the Negro Leagues.  Many of them were WWII veterans.

As for me, I have been blessed to meet Buck O’Neil on two different occasions and also Slick Surratt.  They were together inHoustonduring the 2005 World Series and were the speakers for the Negro League traveling museum.  I wrote about both of them in my Greatness Series books.

So, on Saturday, November 7, 2015, it was fitting that the NegroLeagueMuseumcelebrated its 25th anniversary.  Attending the celebration were stars like Hank Aaron, Dave Winfield, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, “Fergie” Jenkins and many more.  Current curator, Bob Kendrick, was pleased.   Next time you’re inKansas City, check it out.

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com

I Should Have Taken Up Golf

Yes, I played a bit of football in my time.  I am reminded every morning when I roll out of bed.  My joints, ligaments and tendons serenade the early light with “Snap, crackle and pop.”  I did enjoy the game of football, but I had no idea that my body would pay for the pleasure for the rest of my life.  I should have taken up golf.  Then the worst thing that could have happened to me was hitting my ball out of bounds.  Golf is a game where a “late hit” means a slice, not a separated shoulder.  The game is played at a walk, and no one ever sweats.  A “bad lie” is a ball buried in the sand, not a pile up at the goal line against Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears.  A “career-ending play” is scoring a 6 on a par 3.  The most terrifying thing a golfer ever sees is a twenty-foot downhill putt.  You never hear words like blitz, cover two, or spearing.  The word “rough” refers to tall grass, not J.J. Watt.   You don’t have to stand in a pocket, nor do you need a cut man on the sideline.  Canes and wheelchairs are off limits on the golf course, because most likely you will never need a knee operation.  You don’t have to block anybody while playing a round, and you get to keep your teeth.  Missing the “cut” in golf refers to their score when it is not in the low 60’s, not stitches.

You never see a golfer with a mark on him.  His nose isn’t bleeding, his eyes are clear, and you can understand him when he speaks.  Golfers don’t need crutches, and no one has ever seen Tiger Woods carried off the golf course on a stretcher.  I could have traded a torn meniscus and sprained ankles for playing golf until I’m 60.  The playing surface in golf is soft and beautiful, and the holes are guarded by trees that you can hit over or sand traps that you can go around; the holes are not guarded by guys named Mike Singleterry or Lawrence Taylor.  The toughest part of a round of golf may be taking off one of your shoes to play your ball out of a water hazard.   These guys make millions of dollars without bruising a rib or sustaining a concussion, and it’s hard to fracture your thumb on a six iron.  Heck, there’s no heavy breathing, no heavy lifting; and a guy carries their clubs for them.  They can make 1.2 million on a weekend, and they don’t have to knock down linebacker Ray Lewis.  I’ve never seen a disabled list in professional golf.

Playing golf is like finding money.  Jordan Spieth is never going to be able to tell if it’s going to rain by the feeling he gets in his knees, yet Tony Romo gets headaches for a living.  These guys go through life with a sun tan, wearing the best fashioned clothes, laid out for them by style coordinators.  When they finish a tournament, they don’t have to soak in a tub of ice or inflate a collapsed lung or get their blood to clot.  Yet, people are in awe of them because they once shot a 66 at The Masters.

Golfers are the luckiest guys in sports.  I should have taken up golf.

 

 

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com

Food Poisoning

He always made fun of himself so you didn’t have to.  “Some guys smoke, some guys drink, some guys chase women.  I’m a big barbecue-sauce guy,” he once said.  He was tall, mostly bald, loved white sweaters, hated ties, and was funny beyond words; the things he said, it was like he had swallowed Don Rickles.  He could pass forJohnPinette in sneakers or Louie Anderson with a whistle around his neck.  People did make fun of him for not being in shape; he thought round was a shape.  He also thought pancake syrup was a beverage and candy corn a vegetable.  He was a big, heavy-set guy; when he got his shoes shined, he had to take the guy’s word for it.  He was once asked, “How do you plan to stop the Kentucky Wildcats?” in a 1996 NCAA Basketball Tournament match-up.  “Food poisoning!” answered Utah Head Basketball Coach, Rick Majerus.  When asked about the difference in talent between his team andKentucky, he responded, “They have all those McDonald’s Basketball All-Americans.  We have four guys on our team who don’t even have a McDonald’s in their hometown.”  Rick Majerus was a riot and a fine basketball coach.

 

 

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com

I Should Have Taken Up Golf

Yes, I played a bit of football in my time.  I am reminded every morning when I roll out of bed.  My joints, ligaments and tendons serenade the early light with “Snap, crackle and pop.”  I did enjoy the game of football, but I had no idea that my body would pay for the pleasure for the rest of my life.  I should have taken up golf.  Then the worst thing that could have happened to me was hitting my ball out of bounds.  Golf is a game where a “late hit” means a slice, not a separated shoulder.  The game is played at a walk, and no one ever sweats.  A “bad lie” is a ball buried in the sand, not a pile up at the goal line against Brian Urlacher of the Chicago Bears.  A “career-ending play” is scoring a 6 on a par 3.  The most terrifying thing a golfer ever sees is a twenty-foot downhill putt.  You never hear words like blitz, cover two, or spearing.  The word “rough” refers to tall grass, not J.J. Watt.   You don’t have to stand in a pocket, nor do you need a cut man on the sideline.  Canes and wheelchairs are off limits on the golf course, because most likely you will never need a knee operation.  You don’t have to block anybody while playing a round, and you get to keep your teeth.  Missing the “cut” in golf refers to their score when it is not in the low 60’s, not stitches.

You never see a golfer with a mark on him.  His nose isn’t bleeding, his eyes are clear, and you can understand him when he speaks.  Golfers don’t need crutches, and no one has ever seen Tiger Woods carried off the golf course on a stretcher.  I could have traded a torn meniscus and sprained ankles for playing golf until I’m 60.  The playing surface in golf is soft and beautiful, and the holes are guarded by trees that you can hit over or sand traps that you can go around; the holes are not guarded by guys named Mike Singleterry or Lawrence Taylor.  The toughest part of a round of golf may be taking off one of your shoes to play your ball out of a water hazard.   These guys make millions of dollars without bruising a rib or sustaining a concussion, and it’s hard to fracture your thumb on a six iron.  Heck, there’s no heavy breathing, no heavy lifting; and a guy carries their clubs for them.  They can make 1.2 million on a weekend, and they don’t have to knock down linebacker Ray Lewis.  I’ve never seen a disabled list in professional golf.

Playing golf is like finding money.  Jordan Spieth is never going to be able to tell if it’s going to rain by the feeling he gets in his knees, yet Tony Romo gets headaches for a living.  These guys go through life with a sun tan, wearing the best fashioned clothes, laid out for them by style coordinators.  When they finish a tournament, they don’t have to soak in a tub of ice or inflate a collapsed lung or get their blood to clot.  Yet, people are in awe of them because they once shot a 66 at The Masters.

The parent, who buys their child a football, a pair of shoulder pads or a helmet should have to see a psychiatrist.  Golfers are the luckiest guys in sports.  I should have taken up golf.

 

 

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com

536

By 1967, Mickey Mantle was the only reason left to go to a Yankee game.  He had fulfilled his promise to his wife, Merlyn, and hit his 500th home run on Mother’s Day.  After the game, Mantle took the time to thank the Yankees winning pitcher that day, Dooly Womack, for allowing him a chance to celebrate.  By now, Mantle had also conceded to himself and his close friends that he would never be able to catch Willie Mays statistically.

In 1968, Mantle felt lost.  He could no longer hit or run like he used to.  His body was breaking down.  “Who are these guys?”  Mantle was quoted as saying, after looking around at his new teammates.  Tony Kubek and Phil Linz had left the team by 1965; Roger Maris and Bobby Richardson were gone by 1966.  Elston Howard was traded in the middle of 1967; Yogi Berra was gone; and Whitey Ford was now the pitching coach for the Bombers.  On May 30, 1968, Mantle was his old self again.  He went 5-for-5 for the third time in his career with two home runs, a double, two singles and five RBI’s, and scored three runs.  Washington Senators’ first baseman Frank Howard said, “I’ve never seen five balls hit so hard.”  It was Mickey’s finest game since his Triple Crown season of 1956.  On June 29th, Mantle hit his 529th home run.  On July 27th of that season, he fell below the .300 lifetime batting average.  He went 0 for 12 in three straight games and knew he would never be able to return to .300.  He was ashamed and said he was going to quit.  Five days later, he was thrown out of a game for cursing an umpire; it was the seventh time in 18 years.  Six weeks later, on August 10th, he hit his 530th and 531st against the Minnesota Twins.  On August 22nd, he tied Jimmy Foxx for third place of all time, with home run number 534.

On September 17th, the Tigers beat the Yankees in Detroit and clinched the 1968 American League pennant.  The following day was a rainout.  So, on the afternoon of September 19, 1968, Denny McLain was scheduled to pitch.  McLain had already posted 30 wins, becoming the first pitcher since Dizzy Dean to accomplish that feat.  When Mantle came to the plate in the eighth inning, the fans gave him a standing ovation.  Even the Tiger players stood on the top step of the dugout andapplauded.  Everyone was a Mantle fan.  Mantle was McLain’s hero, the reason he had become a switch-hitter when he was in high school.

No one knew what McLain was about to do.  Denny called “time” and called his catcher Jim Price out to the mound.  McLain said, “Listen, he only needs one more home run to beat Foxx.  Let’s give him a shot at it.  You just go behind home plate, put your glove up, and let me see if I can hit it.”  Price understood; Mickey was his hero, too.  Price returned and got down in his crouch and gave Mickey a look.  McLain threw him a batting practice fastball.  “It was like 50 mph with an arc on it,” said McLain.  “And the dummy takes it for a strike.”  Mantle now looks down at Price and says, “What was that?”  Price responded, “I don’t know.”  Mantle says, “Is he gonna’ do it again?”  Price said, “I don’t know.”  Price now gets up and calls time again, and starts towards the mound and McLain yells for all to hear, “Just tell him to be ready.”  McLain continues, “I throw the next pitch and Mantle fouls it off and I’m thinking, oh man, now I’ve got him 0 and 2.  I’m tired of messing around; I’m just going to strike him out.”

McLain is now beside himself and he yells, “Where the hell do you want it?”  Mantle points with his bat.  “I throw one more pitch and he hits a line drive into the right field stands for home run number 535.  We all had tears in our eyes, because Mickey represented baseball in the fifties and sixties,” said Denny.  As Mick goes by first base, Norm Cash hits him on the rear with his glove.  “Nice going” and “Congratulations” are heard as he passes second and short.  As Mickey gets to third, he starts yelling “Thank you” to McLain.  “Thank you, thank you, I owe you one,” screams Mantle.  McLain says, “Mickey that’s enough.”  McLain is thinking he is going to hear from the commissioner if Mantle keeps this up.

As Mantle steps on home plate the crowd erupts and they are now standing again.  Joe Pepitone shakes his hand.  The Tigers are up again and the fans will not stop cheering; so Mickey comes out of the dugout for a curtain call and decides to head towards the mound.  “I almost wet my pants as he started toward me.  I just did not want him to get to the mound,” says McLain.  Mickey finally sat back down.  But that’s not the end of the story.

Joe Pepitone steps into the batter’s box and motions where he wants his pitch, then McLain throws a 90 mph fastball right at his head and down goes Pepitone out of the way.  “When I got up,” said Pepitone, “I looked over in the dugout and Mantle has got both of his hands over his mouth laughing his butt off.”

McLain was right and he did receive a letter from the commissioner that said he was taking the integrity of the game in his own hands.  McLain denied he intentionally threw a gofer ball to Mantle.  Famous baseball writer Red Smith had the last word when he wrote, “When a guy has bought 534 drinks in the same saloon, he entitled to one on the house.”  After the game, Mantle autographed the home run ball for McLain.  He wrote, “Denny, thanks for one of the great moments in my entire career, Mickey.”  In 1978, a fire took McLain’s home along with the baseball.  Mickey signed another ball for him.  “Until the day he died, he kept thanking me,” said McLain.

Mantle hit an uneventful home run number 536 the next day at Yankee Stadium off of Jim Lonborg of the Red Sox.  He played his last game five days later onSeptember 25, 1968, and recorded one single off Luis Tiant of the Cleveland Indians.  I still miss Mickey.

 

 

 

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com

Evidently

CBS football announcer, Tom Brookshire is remembered for one of the most-famous Super-Bowl interviews.  The 1972 Super Bowl ended with a 24-3 win by the Dallas Cowboys over the Miami Dolphins.  Tom Brookshire proceeded to interview star running back, Duane Thomas, of the Cowboys.  Thomas had not spoken to the media the entire week leading up to the big game; yet based on his performance, he was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player.  Brookshire spent several minutes praising Thomas about his performance during the game and marveling at Duane’s speed and quickness.  Finally, Brookshire asked Thomas his first question, “Are you that fast?”  Thomas answered, “Evidently.”  Dead air followed as Brookshire stood stunned by the one-word answer.  It may have been the shortest interview ever seen or heard on sports television.

 

 

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com

There Was Magic in His Voice

“He’s sitting on 714.”  Most baseball fans believe it’s one of the top five calls of all-time.  These two guys are forever joined in baseball lore by less than forty words, spoken into microphone one early evening on April 8, 1974, by Braves broadcaster Milo Hamilton, forty-one years ago.  It was the first game of the new season.  The Atlanta Braves were at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Here’s how the call sounded as Henry Aaron settled into the batter’s box.

“He’s sitting on 714!  Here’s the pitch by Downing, swinging, there’s a drive into left centerfield, that ball is gonna beee…OUTTA HERE!  IT’S GONE!  IT’S 715!  There’s a new home run champion of all-time and it’s HENRY AARON!”

It was “pure” Milo Hamilton.  For some of us, baseball is life.  I still wonder about the places he’s been, the players he’s interviewed and the scores of fans he’s entertained.  For most of us, he’s Uncle Milo.  He was family; he came into our homes 162 times a year, until these last couple of years.  I even listened to his call when I was at the Astros game.  He always stirred my imagination.  One of the secrets of baseball is that you play almost every day.  Therefore redemption was only hours away. Miloused the game to help people discover themselves.  They could use those discoveries to confront anything in their life.  Baseball is a teacher; it reveals your heart and soul and the game is designed to reveal it to you.

There will never be another like him as far as I’m concerned; I love the old man.  As he got older, he began to look tired, frail, and almost sickly until he found his way into the announcer booth or onto the field of play.  It was like flipping a switch.  A microphone made his eyes light up like lanterns.  The game simply turned him on. Milocould sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and make you laugh.  He walked every day into his radio booth intoxicated by the promise of that day’s game.  He didn’t like being surprised; he studied and saved his information in a satchel that may have been as old as him.  He loved baseball so much; even his computer wore batting gloves.  No one wanted to talk to Milo Hamilton about another announcer or player; they wanted to talk about Milo Hamilton.  The longer an announcer stays with the same team the more the fans identify with that team.  Fathers, sons, and sons of sons, we all become a part of his history.

His educated eyes could fill books with the magic of the grand old game.  Most of us know about his calls of eleven no-hitters, the grand slams, and historic home runs.  For sixty-seven years, he opened his scorecard and charted baseball history.  He taught us how to figure batting averages, told us how players got their nicknames and why.  He described routine double-plays, the importance of a bunt single, why stealing third increases the chances of scoring by nine, and the reason so many players strike out looking.  He taught us about Uncle Charlie, twin killings, chin music, and frozen ropes.  Seeing-Eye singles, right down Kirby and “Holy Toledo, what a play!” became his signature calls.  Every play reminded him of days gone by, when only the player, the city, and the circumstances were different.  I would love to see through his eyes, if only for a moment.  Listening to him call a game made me feel like a hundred dollar bill in a two dollar wallet.  Writer Phil Hirsh once wrote, “Baseball is the only game you can see on the radio.” Milomade it easy for all of us.  His canyon deep voice was unmistakable.  He was always “in” the game.  You could never tell by his tone of voice whether his team was behind or ahead.  Everybody wanted to be connected, to be a part of him.  Let’s call that a professional.

Baseball looks so easy to play from your seat.  It is, in fact, the hardest of them all.  The game moves at a pace where a grandfather can talk about what’s happening on the field with his grandson.  They see and experience virtually the same game. Milotaught me how to score a game, what to look for, how to anticipate a great play.  He gave us a history lesson every night and allowed us to dream about what it would be like to play Major League baseball.  All words seemed better to me when spoken by Milo Hamilton.

What you saw was what you got withMilo.  Not many of us find our true place in life; that does not hold true for Milo Hamilton.  I can’t imagine him doing anything else. Milohas been a part of the Dennis & Andy’s Q & A Session radio show for almost twenty years.  Three times every year he joined us on the air, live fromHouston,Texas.  My partner Dennis Quinn always referred to our interviews as “Milounplugged.”  On two different occasions, we took our show on the road toMinuteMaidPark, andMilowas nice enough to join us there, in the booth, talking baseball.  We talked old school baseball; from “Stan the Man” and “Hammerin’ Hank” to “The Ryan Express.”  We covered everything from the disappearance of the hook slide to the tragedy of steroids and everything in between.  There is never a time I did not learn something.  It has been said that the greatest classroom often lies at the feet of the elderly.  How true.

Milowas inducted into the Broadcast Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992.  He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2000.  He has been an announcer for 67 years.  His first job in Major League baseball started in 1953, with the St. Louis Browns.  He has also announced for six other Major League clubs.

There were several times when Milo visitedCorpus Christi; the Hooks would set aside a suite forMiloand he always asked us to join him.  The conversation was magic as the years of baseball through his eyes came flooding back.  It was as close to baseball Heaven as I will ever get.  I once told him how much he was loved as I was leaving his company.  I think it may have surprised him.  He didn’t know how to respond, but he smiled.  I’m absolutely sure he knows he’s loved, but does not hear it enough.  We are always moreappreciative of something we had and have now lost.

Milo last visitedCorpus   Christi, January 24, 2014, with the Astros caravan.  I couldn’t wait to see him.  When he walked into the room he was surrounded by the TV guys like Custer at the Little Big Horn.  We sat and laughed and talked about the call.  He and Hank still speak with each other quite often. Milolooked good as he is winning his battle with cancer.  I’ve never met a more giving individual.  There will never be another Milo Hamilton.

Milo Hamilton passed away today at 88 years of age.  The good lord may have kissed this guy right on the forehead.  This is kind of hard for me as this is not the way I wanted to remember him.  For me,Milowill never be gone, he’s still here, and he’ll always here.

 

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com

Red Rooster

This fellow was a fine defensive third baseman with five Gold Gloves to show for his work.  He was a wild, eccentric, fun-loving guy who was also a little bit crazy.  He received the nickname, the “Red Rooster.”  In a sport where players routinely make millions of dollars, this guy would arm-wrestle you for twenty dollars.  He made Nolan Ryan look kinky.  One time when Houston Astros’ teammate, Norm Miller, and his wife paid an unannounced visit to Rader’s house, Doug answered the door completely naked.

Once while being interviewed for television by Jim Bouton, Doug Rader advised all Little League players to eat their bubble gum cards along with the gum.  He said that if they ate the cards and digested the information, they would become better ballplayers.  “Bubble-gum cards are very good for a Little Leaguer’s diet,” said Rader.  Another time, Doug said, “They should only eat the cards of the good ballplayers.  Say you have a kid whose 5-foot-1 inches tall, tell him to eat a Willie McCovey card.  Willie’s 6 foot 4.  The kid may grow.  You never can tell.”  Rader went on during the interview, “Have them eat the bases and home plate, and they’ll play better.”  Doug Rader played for the Houston Astros from 1967-1975.  He recorded his first big league hit in his first at-bat.  He became known for his off-field antics around the world.  Doug would use the Astros’ locker room as a driving range, teeing up a golf ball, while guys were diving for cover in their lockers, behind trunks and under the whirlpool.  His teammates prayed they would not get hit, as golf balls ricocheted around the room.  Astros’ pitcher Larry Dierker, was asked why nobody took Rader’s golf clubs away.  “’Cause they wanted to live,” responded Dierker.

 

 

 

Andy Purvis

www.purvisbooks.com