Hard to believe, but I am ready to start my seventh season as the radio broadcaster for the Pawtucket Red Sox. After one year with Andy Freed as my partner and another with Dave Jageler, I’ve worked four seasons with Dan Hoard. As you know, he and I spend a lot of time together during the baseball season. We don’t however, see each other all that often during the winter months. It was a treat when I joined Dan in Hartford on Saturday to watch his broadcast of the University of Cincinnati basketball game against the UConn Huskies. I had a courtside seat next to Dan and his partner, Chuck Machock, a former coach at, among other places, Ohio State. Chuck is infamous for being the only broadcaster ever thrown out of an NCAA Tournament game by a referee. Back in 2003, Chuck took umbrage at a call made by one of the best officials in the game, Mike Kitts. After getting an earful from an outraged Machock, Kitts had him removed from the arena. I’ve known Kitts for a long time. We lived in the same neighborhood when I resided in Syracuse. As fate would have it, Kitts was one of the officials Saturday. I made sure I went over to talk to Mike before the game, in case there were still hard feelings between he and Chuck. Chuck and Dan work together seamlessly, with Dans’ easy-to-listen-to style of calling a game, complimented by Chucks’ insight and analysis from a lifetime in basketball.
The big news of the day was the return of Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun to the Husky bench. Jim had missed the 7 previous Connecticut games due to an undisclosed illness. Calhoun, a Red Sox fan of legendary proportion was coy about revealing the nature of his illness, saying only that it was stress-related. Rumor floating around the XL Center was that it was high blood pressure. UConns’ performance against the Bear Cats did nothing to lower his BP. Cincinnati won the game 60-48, despite their best efforts to give it away in the waning moments of the game.
Saw a couple of old friends. Joe D’Ambrosio and Wayne Norman, who broadcast the UConn games were on hand and we caught up. In case you didn’t know, I spent ten seasons as a Syracuse University broadcaster. Also ran into John Paquette, Associate Commisioner of the Big East Conference. JP, one of the nicest guys in the game has been with the league forever. Every now and again, he’ll make a pilgrimage with his son to McCoy to watch the PawSox. Saw Kevin Stacom at the game. The former All America from Providence College, who won an NBA title with the Celtics is a scout for the Dallas Mavericks, and a fixture at college games on the east coast. Kevin is also the owner of the Mudville Pub in downtown Newport, right next door to historic Cardines Field. Kevin and I worked together 25 years ago when he was the head coach of the Rhode Island Gulls of the United States Basketball League, and I served as the teams’ front office (small operation). Just down the road from Bristol, Ct., ESPN’s Andy Katz was working, no doubt digging for information.
The winter is long and the visit with Dan was a real nice break. It has me chomping at the bit to get started again. Incidentally, the first episode of “PawSox Insider” for 2010 will air this Saturday, February 20 on our flagship station, 920 WHJJ radio, at 2:00 p.m. Among our scheduled guests, new manager, Torey Lovullo, and super prospects, Casey Kelly and Ryan Kalish.