Tonight I feel like I’m 11 years old again, on a summer visit to Grandma Mashburn’s trailer in the backwoods of Baker, Florida, listening to the Braves game on the radio and thinking this is the coolest thing ever.
Instead of a tiny, battery powered transistor tucked under my pillow in the dark, picking up WJSB in Crestview, it’s a laptop on my desk at my apartment in Abu Dhabi, picking up WLJA out of Jasper, Georgia, on the internet, as clear and crisp as if I were driving north on I-575 headed for the mountains.
The commercials coming out of Jasper sound a lot like they did in Crestview in 1968, touting local businesses with that country twang that is distinct to our part of the world. Don’t miss the Red Tag Sale on tractors at North Georgia Ford. Ice cream on special at the IGA Foodliner. I half expect them to break in with the farm report in the top of the sixth inning. Hog futures at 3.75 a pound, up a quarter.
Hank Aaron, Felix Millan (still my all-time favorite Brave), Clete Boyer and Milt Pappas have given way to Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, Chipper Jones and Tommy Hanson. And on the air waves, Ernie Johnson and Milo Hamilton are gone, replaced by Jim Powell and Don Sutton, two of the best radio guys in all of baseball.
And when you close your eyes (the best way to listen to baseball on the radio), the rhythm and poetry of the game are the same, and it’s easy to imagine the stadium’s magical expanse of green that an 11-year-old has never seen but knows as well as he knows his own backyard.
Robert Mashburn blogs regularly at Abu Dhabi Do!