Sunday afternoon and like 75 million other people I'm watching the Jackie Robinson West Little League team take a beatdown from South Korea. ABC TV. They make lots of money.
Alexis and I saw a movie about swallowing a packet of drugs and getting special brain powers. Scarlett Johanssen has a sexy voice, something a local radio guy would notice.
And I was the local radio guy yesterday at Pints in the Park at Wicker Park in Highland. Our good friends who do the catering at Wicker Park threw a craft beer fest for 34 brewers, more than 100 beers (including a ton of pumpkin pie in a bottle), 600 people or so... and a massive Region thunderstorm. The skies opened up at 3pm, right when it was scheduled to start. So the walk-up business surely wasn't what it could be. All in all, for a first festival it was a success.
A ton of WJOB listeners there. We gave away a bunch of tickets on the air so no surprise there. It really is cool when a local radio guy has dozens of people, mostly couples, stop you to tell you that they wake up with you. Sometimes it's the wife who needs the radio AM fix and sometimes it's the husband who takes the radio in the shower. I prefer the visual of the wife. Most of my guy listeners are like me. A little overweight, hairy, too much sun over the years and their clothes often don't fit right. Like I said, I much prefer the visual of the wives in the shower.
Stop me. On Friday night I was sitting around the house until about 7:45 listening to Morton and Griffith battle it out in football. The wife was watching a movie and since we're recent empty-nesters I listened to Brian Jennings and Kurt the Minnow Smith announce a surprisingly close Griffith at Morton football game. In the second quarter I decided to drive the half hour south to St. John and catch the end of the Munster at Lake Central game.
Got in the car and no gas. Oh yeah. Forgot about that. And looked down at my phone and 6% batter. Oh yeah, forgot about that too. So stopped at Meier on the Boulevard for a tank of gas and a phone charger for the car. Luckily they had one.
Because by the time I smurfed my way down 41 Morton was beating Griffith on WJOB and the second half was about to start at Lake Central. So I sat in the car for a while to let the phone charge.
After a while I "excuse-me'd" my way to the plywood press box. It's a bit of a treacherous journey these days at Lake Central because of all of the construction. Do you remember that building that you could go into to go to the bathroom? The one that housed the concession stand and the locker rooms and all that?
Gone. A big hole in the ground and dust everywhere and broken up pavement and cranes and end-loaders parked all around.
So I made my way up to the rather rickety press box (it's coming down too) and there was my Wednesday morning radio partner, Al Hamnik, the dean of Indiana sportswriters. As a professional courtesy, Al gave me the details on the two touchdowns in the first half to make it to the 7-7 tie.
"Got an extral program, Al?"
So I asked the PA announcer and the spotter and the clock operator and the lady who picks the 50-50 - "Anybody got a program?"
The whole time the third quarter's starting and Lake Central's Antwan Davis and Brendon Scott are leading a Lake Central drive. Then a longass text comes to my phone. It was #WJOBcaller MadMac.
"You need to interrupt the Griffith game. It's boring listening to it.... Some updates from Lake Central would be great."
I did tell the whole Region that I'd be at the Munster-Lake Central game. Then a phone call came from Miguel. "You wanna take it for a while from Lake Central?"
So I looked at my phone - 22% battery. And I walked through the stands looking for someone - anyone - looking at a program. Nobody. 3,000-plus and no program. So I headed to the field and on the way ran into Christian Flores who had a program. Then I called into the station and announced the last quarter from the sidelines. It was great. I never did that before. Of course I didn't really know who the players were - "Number 24 up the middle for a five-yard gain. Stop by #78." But after a while, thanks to Christian's program, I could stumble through the call.
Part of the problem was that I couldn't hear when Miguel was sending it back to me after a break. A couple times I just started talking and then a minute later I'd hear the click that meant I was just coming on the air. Another time, with about 4 minutes left and Lake Central about to score a touchdown, I lost the cell connection so I wound up announcing for a good five minutes and I wasn't even on the air.
In the end, I announced the final play while standing with the chain gang just a few feet from the Lake Central quarterback and receivers. Down 24-21, Lake Central had driven the length of the field in about a minute and were on the 14-yeard line ready to score. With 15 secs left, Lake Central's best receiver lined up right in front of me. And no one from Munster came over to cover him.
QB Studer pointed to Davis... but at the same time the center snapped the ball and hit Studer in the facemask or chest with the ball. Fumble. Scramble for the ball. Lake Central recovers but time runs out as they try to run a play. Confusion, bedlam, excitement.. and me going crazy on a cellphone that 30 seconds after the end of the game ran out of battery. A beep and then blackness.
Didn't matter. I got the call on the air at WJOB. And like the red wheelbarrow, that made all the difference. Jackie Robinson West losing 8-1 in the last inning to South Korea, by the way.