A great deal has been written about listening to baseball on the radio.
Some of that has been elegant, touching even. And some of it reads like what the British would call havin' a wank.
But there is one aspect of listening to baseball on the radio that I have not seen addressed. It's this.
If you were an impressionable boy back when you tuned in to games, it was quite easy to gather the impression that drinking 19 beers over two or three hours was a perfectly rational thing to do.
That's because quite often the regional broadcasts of big league games were sponsored by a brewery. And the announcers describing the action tended to push the sponsor's product with indefatigable zeal.
“Say, friends, wouldn't this be the perfect time for an ice-cold Stroh's?”
So if you were a 12-year-old boy listening to the national pastime on a hot summer night, you could easily find yourself thinking “Why, yes, I could go for a cold one right about now.”
Adding to the near-mythical allure of a frosty, golden lager was the not implausible notion that the color man was helping himself to same with genuine gusto.
He and the play-by-play guy sometimes referred to beer so often that, even when they were talking about the game, there was almost a subliminal suggestion that the listener ought to be headed to the fridge.
“Fans, have you made sure to stock up on Ballantine?”
Or…”Baseball isn't baseball without a cold can of Hudepohl in your hand.”
Or…”That's right, you'll love Hamm's…the beer refreshing.”
This incessant drumbeat could turn a grade school lad with a theretofore impeccable record of sobriety into someone who absolutely craved the suds. It could make him yearn to find out what the finest grains and hops were all about.
It's rough when you're just a kid and you realize you had built up a sincere and monumental thirst in desperate need of slaking and all you had to answer that call was 7-Up.
Of course, the truth is, more than few boys would not actually like the taste of beer. But the theoretical idea of a cold one, well, that's different. That could be almost magical. And maybe some full-bodied refreshment would help your team win.
“Now in convenient pop-tops!”
It turns out that some boys grew up to discover that beer tastes pretty OK.
But it could never be as good as back when you couldn't have one.