Past president a one-time sportscaster
The United States has spent the past week mourning the passing of past President Ronald Reagan.
Reagan lived a long, interesting and most unique life. He is known mostly for his years in politics as President of the United States and as Governor of the state of California.
Most people also remember him as a movie and television actor who starred in a variety of roles. He played in comedies, serious drama and a great many westerns. Some of his movie work was very good and some was very forgettable.
No doubt, Reagan’s acting career prepared him well for his entry into politics. He knew how to deliver a line with maximum effect and did so often.
One of his most notable speeches was one he delivered on behalf of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater during his unsuccessful 1964 presidential campaign.
Chances are that many of Reagan’s most solid supporters came from the Goldwater camp.
Ronald Reagan had a strong tie to sports. One of his first jobs was as a play-by-play baseball announcer. This was, of course, an even earlier opportunity to hone his communication skills.
It also provided one of the most interesting stories I have ever heard about a sportscaster, though I must confess that my memory of the event may not be entirely accurate.
At any rate, it is an experience that would not be possible today but involved a dilemma that many baseball announcers were likely to face.
Reagan was broadcasting a “recreated” baseball game. Simply put, he was sitting in a broadcast studio and “announcing” the game as he read results off a ticker tape.
Usually, this was not a terribly difficult task. The tape would read, “Greenberg out 6-3.” Translated that means Greenberg hit a ground ball to the shortstop who threw him out at first.
A more difficult problem would be “Sisler DP 9-3-6 Roe scored, Jones out One run, one hit, no errors, none left.”
That one meant Sisler flew out to right field and Roe scored after the catch. The first baseman cut the throw and threw the runner from first out at second to end the inning. There was one run on one hit, no errors and no runners left on base.
Difficult, but Reagan could handle that one with relative ease.
Then came the following on the ticker tape, “Slaughter out 2-1-2-6.”
This would appear to be an impossible play.
Reagan correctly called the runner out stealing from catcher to shortstop, but could not figure why catcher to the pitcher was in the line score as well.
He later found out that the runner had been stealing when the catcher’s throw hit the pitcher in the back of the head and bounced back to the catcher.
The runner stopped to see if the pitcher was hurt and the catcher caught the ball and threw again, this time getting the ball to the shortstop in time for the put out.
The situation Reagan called was something like this, but not exactly this one.
If, in the future, I am able to find the “real” situation, it will be reported.
The object of this story is that Reagan was presented with a very unusual situation and was able to handle it quickly under the pressure of an immediate deadline.
You can bet that type of experience served him well in later life, too.
There should be a plethora of Ronald Reagan stories popping up soon. Let’s hope some of them go back to his days as a sportscaster.
Summer Sports Venues Busy
The playing fields of Winslow are busy most days of the week.
The three adjacent ball fields teem with activity as players from eight and up come to enjoy baseball and softball games.
The stands are filled with people—both younger and older—who come to cheer on their loved ones or just to enjoy the entertainment that a good ball game provides.
Many of the games are sponsored by the Winslow Little League, an organization that has served the youth of this community well for over 50 years.
Little League has expanded over the years to include girls and boys both younger and older than it served at its inception.
Girls, of course, were not included in the children eligible to play Little League baseball when the organization first began.
For many, the tee ball game that is many children’s first introduction to the sport is the most entertaining. It is probably many a youngster’s first opportunity to interact with other children of his or her own age.
Adults also play most nights on the fields to the east over the irrigation ditch that separates Winslow proper from Bushman Acres and the Winslow Plaza.
The game there is slow pitch softball, a co-ed sport that is one of the few recreational activities the city offers to the young adult.
If there is an area in which the city is deficient in sporting opportunities, it is probably in what is provided for the adult athlete.
Winslow has failed to maintain a golf course despite several failed efforts.
The city once had a good men’s fast pitch softball league at one time, but that was replaced by the slow pitch league.
The loss of the bowling alley, a private facility, left another gap in adult recreational activities.
In summary, it seems that there are more teams and opportunities available to our younger citizens and less for the older teens, young adults and young-minded older people than was once the case.
Semi-pro baseball would appear to be a thing of the past, at least in Winslow.
Our older high school players must often leave town to find an opportunity to play.
Some may recall the days when children would gather at a field and choose up sides for baseball games.
We called it “sandlot” ball because it was usually played on a field that was little more than a sandlot.
There is something to be said for games that are organized and run by the children who play them.
Adult supervision has a way of taking all of the decision making and a lot of the fun out of the games for some.
Perhaps the fields should be made more available for “sandlot” players when not in use by organized leagues.
The organized leagues, especially Little League, offer a unique opportunity for some of our youth to hone their officiating skill.
Watching the Little League games, one will notice that the umpires are youths themselves, most appearing just old enough to be ineligible to play or who are playing in an older age bracket.
They do a remarkably fine job and it is a pleasure to see how seriously they take their work.
Winslow has a long-standing reputation as a good sports town.
We should be proud of that reputation and work to maintain and build upon it.
Let’s hope that our youth and even our adult citizens will always have a place to play and the will to do so.