On October 3rd, 1993, fifty seven years after you first walked past that Laundromat, an eight year old boy again fell in love with baseball and again, it was due to the Giants suffering a thorough beating at the hands of a historic franchise. This time, it was the Dodgers, not the Yankees beating the Giants, and this time, the eight year old boy rooted for the winning team.
Sure, the Dodgers were the home team for a boy growing up in San Pedro, CA, but a large reason I instantly became a Dodgers fan was due to that voice. It was your enthusiastic call of the Dodgers prized rookie catcher hitting his second “deep fly ball to right field”. It was the description of the home runs as “miracle upon miracle”. On that day I learned to love baseball. I learned to root for the Dodgers and against the Giants.
As a child who grew up in a broken, inner city home, the nine innings of your voice calling Dodgers games became one of the very few quality time activities I could count on with my step-father. I would miss him when he was gone, but your voice on the T.V. meant he was home and I could sit with him and watch. I could learn, and enjoy the beautiful game. Eventually, this lead to my step-father forming a team of abandoned kids from the housing projects. During the turmoil of the horrific gang wars going on in our neighborhood, we had baseball to help us cope. After a game we would pack 9 kids into a pick-up truck and hear your call on the radio while driving home. I loved that my mom would need to drop off all the other kids because it meant I could hear more of your voice calling the game.
Once I would get home, I would turn on the radio in my room in and continue listening. My mom always fought a losing battle getting me to go to bed in time. I can recall her admonishing me to turn the radio off, instead I would put the radio underneath my pillow and sneak in another half inning or so before falling asleep with the radio still on. On occasion, a screaming neighbor, a gang fight, or even gun shots would wake me and I would find comfort if the game was yet to finish. Your voice helped sooth a frightened child back to sleep.
Through junior high and high school, I still used the radio to hear your game calls in the evenings. I can’t tell you how many times a friend or a young lady I upset on the other end of the phone, because I paid more attention to your voice than theirs. Eventually I grew up and married and formed a family of my own. I’ve spent this final season of yours watching as many Dodgers games as possible with my six year old son. Recently, he was troubled while trying to go to sleep, so he asked me to put something on the Bluetooth speaker which sits next to his bed. Naturally, I put your call of the game, and of course, that voice calmed his troubles and helped him to sleep.
Now, as generations of baseball fans and Dodgers fans alike bid farewell, we say thank you. Thank you lending your voice to the masses. Thank you for getting us through trouble times and helping us celebrate good times. Thank you for connecting childhood to adolescence to adulthood over and over again. On October 2nd, 2016 we say goodbye as you call the Dodgers versus Giants eighty years after you fell in love with the game, twenty three years after you helped me do the same.
Frank Martinez @FrankTalkLA