Now that I am back in R.I. (and I’d like to take credit for bringing back the nice weather) I am raring to go for Thursdays’ opener against Rochester. It marks the beginning of my seventh season as a voice of the PawSox. For the fifth straight year, I will be paired with my dear friend, Dan Hoard. I look forward to the summer nights we spend together, bringing you PawSox baseball. It seems like we’ve been together for a long time, and we have. My first season, I was paired with Andy Freed, who is now the voice of the Tampa Bay Rays. I had the chance to get together with Andy in Fort Myers as the Rays visitied City of Palms Park for a Grapefruit League game last week. Andy and his current partner, Dave Wills make a good pair. They sound smooth and comfortable together. Andy has never sounded better, strong and relaxed. Mid-season form in late March.
Things are going well for the Maryland native. Earlier this winter, he and his wife Amy welcomed twin daughters to the family. “Knock on wood…life is a roller coaster and this January we had twin babies along with our 7 year old (Sarah). It feels like our family is complete. It feels pretty good. Other than a lack of sleep…the season is about to start. I’m excited”
Andy was at the microphone as the Rays shocked the world in 2008, winning the American League pennant. He wasn’t surprised they were good, but the timing was a little bit ahead of schedule. “My goodness. we did it early. Management felt like 2010 would be our year. It was great. I hesitate to say that 2009 was a disappointment. We won 84 games, it wasn’t like the old days. There is pressure this year for us to get off to a good start. Everyone on our team feels we have what it takes to compete with, quote the big boys.”
Freed said his partner, Wills, warned him about a potential letdown in ’09. “Dave had been through it when he was working with the White Sox. He said the first time you don’t make the postseason after being in it, is a real bummer, and he was right. It just wasn’t the same team. It really makes you respect the teams that are there year after year. I think if we don’t make a run at it this year, it would be considered more disappointing.”
He was honest in his assessment, when asked if there was anything he missed about life in the minors. “No. Not really. I did work with some great people. There is a certain simpicity to minor league baseball that I liked, but it really was a means to an end.” He seems to be a happy man and he’s earned that right. “I don’t want to sound sugary sweet, but life is good. I love my job. I love where we live. It’s a great neighborhood. I’m fond of my partner. Our families socialize. I respect our ownership very much. I enjoy working for them. There’s not a whole lot that isn’t right, and ya knock on wood because the bottom could fall out at any moment. For right now, as long as we have our health, life is pretty good.”
One of the things that bonded Andy and me over our 2004 season, was our mutual love of the “Howard Stern Show”. To this day, most of our correspondence is punctuated by something recent from the program or a “Bababooey!” If you listen to Stern, you’ll occasionally hear a Freed “drop” on the program. A badge of honor that Andy wears proudly. “I think Howard is a brilliant broadcaster and has been able to loosen the airwaves for all of us and I think we all benefit from that.” Andy was given an up close look into the Stern studio, a VIP tour. He keeps in touch with Jason Kaplan, a Stern show producer and admits, as I must as well, that the show and its’ jargon creeps into your vernacular. “We listen to the show every day and it becomes part of your daily life. You might say something that only a Stern fan would understand, and lo and behold, they’ve recorded it and sent it in to Howard.”