Crystal Radios and Vin Scully
From about age 10 I was intrigued by technology. One of the first devices I purchased was a Heathkit Crystal Radio. It was a very simple device that you put together in about 3 minutes. It used radio waves to get a signal and required no batteries. It was underpowered and had no amplifier so it used earphones. I built that in Bakersfield and soon found that clear channels (those stations with a lot of wattage) were the only ones that came in. I found two stations that were almost always available - one in LA and one in San Francisco. On summer nights I could listen to the Dodgers and Vin Scully in bed. That reinforced my interest in baseball. I started to like the team in the 50s when the Dodgers went to the World Series in '52, '53. They finally won in 1955. They came back in '56 to lose to the Yankees and then in '59 they did it again. That was the first series with a west coast team. But I learned the phrase "wait until next year"even though the Dodgers won twice in the decade.
That crystal radio also informed me about the Our Lady of the Angels fire in 1958 in Chicago and the death of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens in 1959. But the Dodger games were most important.
Scully was a fan of baseball but never was a "homer" announcer. His call was always balanced and it often involved tons of baseball history that seemed to well up at the drop of a hat. His call of Kirk Gibson's home run in the 1988 World Series is one that I have replayed many times.
Come forward several decades and I was offered the opportunity to meet Scully in his broadcast booth. I had a friend who was doing some consulting for the O'Malley family and he invited me for a game and a chance to meet the voice I had first heard on the crystal radio.
As I entered the booth, I noticed a three ring binder with lots of notes. As I watched his work, he would flip through what looked like unorganized pages and then come up with a classic story or quote. When they got to a commercial break, I got to say hello and I told him about listening to him since the 50s but said I was a bit disappointed. He asked why and I said I had always admired his skilled weaving of baseball facts and history into his game coverage. He joked back - "Look I am over 70 years old, I can't remember everything!" He was truly gracious.
Fast forward about another decade and I was at a dinner held by an underwriter at a national conference of University Chief Financial Officers. I was sitting next to the CFO of one of the institutions I represented who had his 10 year old son with him. We started talking about famous people we had met and when it came to be my turn I listed a bunch of politicians and other famous people and then I said and I had met Vin Scully. The kid looked at me, ignoring the Presidents, Governors and other celebs and asked "You met Vin Scully?" That really put the American fascination with celebrities in its proper place. The book has a chapter "Fleeting Encounters with Fleeting Fame" which discusses my chances to meet some very famous people.
TWO DEVELOPMENTS ON "OF COURSE ITS TRUE EXCEPT FOR A COUPLE OF LIES.." - Last week I was approached by a representative of Archway Publishing, which is a division of Simon and Schuster. They offered to help publish and distribute the book. We had a couple of discussions but in the end I did not choose to use them. I also had the chance to speak with the authors of a wonderful book - Mitka's Secret which is an inspiring story of a child who was forced into slavery by the Nazis - who are friends. The child emigrated to the US and became a successful person in spite of not being able to read and write. (Buy the book it is an inspiring read!). I learned a lot about promoting a book.
Finally, my ACE Design Editor is about ready to have a draft of the completed and designed manuscript. There are a lot of unappreciated details in preparing a manuscript and I seem to have added complexity but adding asides and lots of pictures. She commented that she has enjoyed the stories in the book - and that has slowed her down a bit. As we say in Mexico - "Better right than fast." The final steps are for me to review the manuscript and then to send it to my publisher. (Ingram Spark - which is a major printer and distributor of books on many platforms.) I assume that the book will now be available on Amazon and Apple Books and through a couple of other sources in October.