Have you ever heard a baseball bat make beautiful music?
New York Mets Outfielder Carlos Beltran has.
I had the pleasure of hearing an excerpt from my most recent blog post featured on-air on CBC Radio 2 this past weekend.
Apparently, hosts of the weekly program “In Tune” discovered my blog in the Internet universe and found it interesting enough to mention on-air during the hour-long show.
Having worked previously as a classical music announcer for two different NPR affiliates for some years, as I listened to the host’s voice and my own on my computer, I couldn’t help but think that with this most recent recognition, it was almost like I’d come full-circle.
While an undergraduate music major at Wichita State University (Mike Pelfrey’s alma mater as well), I began working at college radio station KMUW-FM as a classical music announcer. The staff there found it far easier to train music students in the intricacies of running the board and other technical matters than it was to train Radio-TV/Communications majors to pronounce foreign words and names. Music majors like myself could usually be relied upon not to flinch from the sight of nor massacre composer names like Antonín Dvořák or Dieterich Buxtehude or names of compositions like Verklärte Nacht or Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune.
Ten years later, I was grateful to win my first orchestral audition–for the position of Principal Oboe with the Spokane Symphony–but needed to augment my orchestra salary through part-time employment. I sent an air-check, got my radio chops in shape once again, and began work at KPBX Spokane Public Radio an announcer. Before I left for New York and the Metropolitan Opera, I had gone from a few hours a week to a position as the regular weekday afternoon on-air classical music host.
Now–almost twenty years after moving to New York, marrying and thus becoming a Mets fan, and bidding radio adieu, my voice could be heard–briefly–over the airwaves in Canada and via the Internet everywhere once again. My blogging about baseball had put me on-air once again.
For me at least, in this digital age, it truly is “all connected”.
What comes to your mind when Jose Reyes…
- …hits one of his signature triples?
- …steals yet another base?
- …flashes that infectious smile?
- …has yet another multi-hit game?
The first thing you probably think–as I do–is, “We HAVE to SIGN HIM!!“
But sometimes, watching Jose in action reminds me of another exciting performer.
In the world of opera.
He seemed like a mensch.
I wish I could tell you more about him, but I only met him five days ago.
And now he’s gone.
Dana Brand was a professor at Hofstra University, an avid Mets fan and blogger, an author of two books on the Mets, a husband and father.
In the relatively small subset of Mets fans that is the blogging community, he was a collaborator with and supporter of many and a mentor to all.
As much as I loved reading his writing, it was even more of a delight to speak with him face to face on Saturday night.
My family and I, along with dozens of other Mets fans, were at Foley’s Sports Bar in Manhattan Saturday night for a charity event sponsored by the foundation of SNY-TV announcers Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling.
As much fun as it was to see the likes of Cohen and Darling tending bar and having them each pour a drink for me, the true highlight of the evening for me was the fact that I left that intimate gathering of like-minded people feeling that I had made a new friend: having recognized Dana from photos on his blog, I tentatively introduced myself. I needn’t have shown such temerity: he enthusiastically greeted me by name and told me how much he enjoyed reading my blog posts–a real compliment coming from someone with his literary credentials!
After introducing him to my family, the four of us talked about everything from the special relationships that can develop between fathers and daughters, the operas he had seen at the MET, as well as my daughter’s experiences in the MET Children’s Chorus. Clearly, he was interested in getting to know us better personally.
When the subject did turn to the Mets, he excitedly told us of a special event he was planning in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Mets franchise to be held at Hofstra University. Dana seemed just as interested in sharing mutual remembrances of Mets history brought up by my husband Garry–a Mets fan from the team’s beginning and of Dana’s same generation. Garry enjoyed having the opportunity to tell Dana personally how much he had enjoyed reading both of his books.
I sensed Dana was appreciative of the favorable comments about his work. But Dana seemed to take particular delight when Garry turned to our daughter Melanie and, while pointing to Dana, informed Melanie, “This guy was THERE for Agee’s home run. He SAW it!!”
It was with obvious pride that Dana later introduced us to his lively, charming daughter and sister. As much passion and zeal as he obviously had for his team, it was very clear what a devoted and proud father he was as well.
Before we left Foley’s that night, we exchanged contact info with Dana, promising to meet up at Citi Field at a game in the near future.
It truly felt like we had met a real kindred spirit, and all of us agreed that we were so glad that we had made his acquaintance.
Dana passed away suddenly yesterday afternoon. I learned this early this afternoon through a Mets blog. Within a matter of hours, the sad news passed through the Twitter community and has resulted in countless other blog posts in honor of Dana. Word had obviously made its way to the SNY TV booth at Wrigley Field in Chicago as, watching this afternoon’s game on TV, we heard Gary Cohen make a brief tribute, mentioning Dana’s passing and what a devoted fan, blogger, and author he was.
In reading these blog posts, it is clear to me that I missed a real opportunity not having made Dana’s acquaintance sooner. He was obviously a person who had been a positive influence in many, many lives.
My family and I wish to add our condolences to Dana’s family and friends.
A recent New York Times sports article inspires the retelling of a story from opera.
How to best describe Game 162 at Citi Field yesterday?
tion, along with his wife.
Between the money the team will save by eliminating stewards, attendants, medical staff and insurance for the shuttered seats (about $130,000 per season) and the extra ad revenue it may earn, team owner Stefano Fantinel says the experiment “will pay for itself very soon.”
What I didn’t see mentioned in this article is the fact that screen-printed PVC tarps do not produce general crowd noise nor respond with a collective roar for great plays. Conversely, the concocted fans presumably do not boo poor plays nor heckle players.
I recently had the pleasure of being extended an invitation to write a guest post for another blog devoted to the New York Mets: Mets Gazette. I was honored to have been asked, and my response is included in a regular feature of Mets Gazette: “The Pulsipher of the Nation”.
|Create a photo slideshow|
As grateful as I always am to take a vacation, and as much as I love that our family shares a passion for ballgames and the Mets, our family’s tradition of following the Mets for numerous roadtrips each summer is killing me.
With our season ticket package at Citi Field, we are at virtually every home game. But for many summers now, we have taken advantage of the fact that my daughter is not in school nor am I working in the summer and have planned and taken vacations based around Mets away games.
In our various sojourns, we have seen the Mets play at every National League ballpark with the exception of three: AT & T Park, Coors Field, and Busch Stadium. We have also seen the Mets play in several Americal League venues and in Spring Training games at Port St. Lucie. In addition to seeing all those games and ballparks, we have also been to nearby venues: National Parks, art museums, science museums, historical sites, amusement parks, aquariums, zoos and animal parks, beaches, and restaurants featuring regional fare.
We’ve been granted rare access to our favorite players in ballparks having more lenient rules for observing Batting Practice and getting autographs. Due to generally lower ticket prices at other parks compared to Citi Field prices, we have been able to sit in even better seats than we do at Citi Field. Both of those amenities have afforded me the opportunity to shoot photos from some amazing vantage points. The photos I have returned with have become some of our most treasured souvenirs.
Additionally, we’ve had the unexpected pleasure of running into friends (and teachers!) from home in some faraway places. We have made the acquaintance of other Mets fans, and we have met and had conversations wtih members of the media. Last summer, while covering the team for the Daily News, Adam Rubin (who is now a journalist for ESPN-NY) was seated across the aisle from me on our flight from San Diego to Phoenix. In 2007, SNY-TV’s Gary Cohen happened to be seated behind me on our outbound flight from New York to Pittsburgh; we approached him at baggage claim (where this photo was taken.) Both journalists were very personable, and we had the most delightful conversations with each of them!
This all sounds like the makings of dream vacations, right? How lucky am I to see so many Mets games?!
Here’s the problem: for all the delights–both planned and unexpected–neither wins nor a favorable standing in the NL East by the time the planned roadtrip is made is guaranteed. The heartbreak of having to watch terrible losses or a scrappy team that is way out of it–all without the support of an entire stadium of fans with which to commiserate–can be painful or even excruciating.
Last year’s trip: a four-game series in San Diego followed by a three-game series in Arizona late in the season was particularly disappointing baseball-wise with the Mets having so many regulars on the DL and the team being so far out of contention. Maybe paying the big bucks for a small prop plane tour over and into the Grand Canyon was our way of salvaging the trip…for ourselves, if not for the team.
While this season’s pre-All-Star-Game Spector Family Roadtrips–Washington, Baltimore, and Milwaukee–provided some wins and some unique opportunities (such as seeing the rookie Stephen Strasburg in a game in Washington), the final trip, to Los Angeles, was a struggle for the team and, therefore, for me.
Losing three out of four was no fun. Neither was having Dodger fans in our faces during every exit from Dodger Stadium following the game.
The two-day trip to Disneyland prior to the series, scheduled primarily for my daughter’s enjoyment, proved to be the highlight of the trip for me as well. Let’s just say that Dodger Stadium could not be mistaken for the Magic Kingdom in any way . Even our enchanted knuckleballer–the unexpected knight in shining armor of the starting rotation, R.A. Dickey–was not allowed conjure up his deceptive magic for very long, being yanked early in his start there.
Sometime following our return from L.A.–in the midst of one of the games during the frustrating homestand just concluded, perhaps around the time I and other fans found out that Mets ownership declined to take any action prior to the trade deadline–I snapped.
“I think I need a break from these Mets roadtrips,” I told my husband and daughter. “Having to suffer Mets losses–both home and away–are killing me.” .
No doubt, when the 2011 season is announced, I will salivate at potential trips and this low point will be long forgotten. But if we do decide to declare a moratorium on Mets roadtrips, I can think of one immediate benefit (besides not having to suffer losses without the home crowd): seeing those away games on SNY and hearing the great on-air talent of Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, and Gary Cohen.
I know those guys will always follow the team for me…win or lose.