July 14, 2013 in Sports

Date provides warm memories

A Grip On Sports
 
Associated Press photo

To some, nothing can beat a summer night with Vin Scully’s voice coming over the radio.
(Full-size photo)

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Vince Grippi has an opinion about everything local, especially sports. Every Sunday we provide samples of his daily riffs. Read him daily at spokesman.com/sportslink.

Wednesday: July 10 was always a pretty big day around the Grippi household.

The patriarch’s birthday always is, isn’t it? Yep, this would have been my pop’s 88th birthday. Got thinking about that last night as I listened to the Mariners’ game. How many times in the 1960s and early ’70s had I sat with my dad and listened to Vin Scully describe the action from Dodger Stadium? Too often to count, that’s for sure.

The best were the warm summer nights when we would be headed somewhere in his old Scout car, windows down, radio on, the noise of the under-powered engine making it hard to hear. The Dodgers weren’t all that good in the late ’60s after Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale had retired, but Scully was worth listening to even if he was reading the phone book.

The vagaries of AM radio being what they were, if we were headed down Sierra Madre Blvd., toward Pasadena, the Spanish-language broadcast would often intercede as we drove by the radio tower of the station that carried the broadcast. I can remember the Spanish description of the game wafting in, with the only words I could recognize being the names of the players: “Ahora camina a la placa es Ron Cey. Él va seguido por Dusty Baker.”

A half-mile down the road, Jaime Jarrin’s voice would recede and Scully’s would return. Sometimes, if we had to go inside a store or market, dad, a notoriously impatient man, could be talked into waiting for the inning to end before we left the car.

Of course, if Jerry Doggett was in the booth, the radio was clicked off and the doors locked even if the Dodgers were threatening to score. The Dodgers games in those days were broadcast over KFI, a 50,000-watt, clear-channel station.

I know of people here in Spokane who could pick it up at times, but its long reach also resides in my memory. I remember sitting in the car with dad at Lake Alamnor, where he had bought a lake cabin in the early ’70s, leaning forward to hear Scully’s voice from more than 500 miles away.

Most of the time he had to get back inside quickly to keep my mom happy (that was an imperative in those days, the years leading up to their divorce), but I could sit there and listen as long as I liked. I just had to make sure the battery didn’t run down.

It’s funny, isn’t it? A few words on the radio, a certain date on the calendar and you are headed down memory lane.

Thursday: There are only so many times you can write about the Mariners. Write about whether they have turned the corner (they haven’t), whether it’s too soon to say they’ve turned the corner (yes, it was) or whether Justin Smoak has turned a corner (the jury is still out). After a while, it all blends together.

Now, if the M’s were good, a team that won more often than it lost, then it would be easy to write in mid-July. Each day would hold another Mariners story that would grab your interest and shake it like a puppy with a chew toy. But they’re not, so that doesn’t happen.

It seems like forever until football season, doesn’t it? Yet it’s only a few days away. Really. The Hawks will start training camp two weeks from today. Yep, July 25 will be the unofficial official kickoff of the most-anticipated Seahawks season in years. Can Russell Wilson repeat his performance of last year? Will the defense be solid enough? Does Pete Carroll remain relentlessly positive? Is the Super Bowl a true goal?

Those are the type of questions that will begin to be answered in just a couple of weeks. Pretty cool, huh? Then, right on the heels of the Hawks getting going, the local colleges will begin their preseason camps.

The Cougars start in early August in preparation for the ESPN-televised opener at Auburn at the end of the month. Eastern will prepare for another run at the FCS title and Idaho will enter the brave new world of football independence under first-year head coach Paul Petrino. It’s all within the next four weeks.

Thank goodness. I don’t think I could write another piece on Dustin Ackley’s chances of becoming an everyday major league center fielder. Though I probably will tomorrow.


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