Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Pat Hughes - The God of Cubs Radio
I have had a great baseball week. On Monday, my wonderful son-in-law took me to the Crosstown Classic, Cubs vs White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The Cubs won 12-3, 5 home runs. I owe Patrick a big "thank you" for a terrific night at the "new" ball park. The Cell isn't as quaint as Wrigley, but the men's rooms are much more civilized. I stayed home last night and listened to the game on 720 AM. Cubs eked out a win, 2-1. I am listening to the radio again tonight, seeing if the Cubs can sweep their local rival, the Pale Hose. It ain't looking good - 2 zip, White Sox, at the end of the 3rd.
I believe that baseball should be watched live, in the ballpark, whenever possible. If you can't make it to the park, the best way to take in the game is to turn on the radio. Yeah, I will watch the Cubs on television if I am at a bar, but the magical rhythm of the play-by-play man and the color man has been part of my consciousness since I was a preschooler, listening to the San Francisco Giants with my Dad in the backyard of our cheesy suburban ranch house in San Leandro CA. Chicagoans are very lucky because we have the awesome Pat Hughes.
Pat was the play-by-play guy to Ron Santo's color guy from 1996 thorough 2010 when Ronnie died of cancer. They were absolutely terrific partners - they had that awesome chemistry and they kept their sense of humor through all those years of Cubs misery and disappointment. Now, Pat is teamed with Keith Moreland, Keith is in his late 50's and was a good professional baseball player - he was on the 1984 Cubs team that won their division. Keith knows his stuff and is doing a great job, but of course, he can't be Ronnie. It is good that Pat Hughes is providing the continuity.
I am amazed by Pat's voice. It is warm, deep, lush and comforting. He is always well prepared for each game, he tells good jokes, and he never seems to make a mistake. He never stutters or muffs his lines. I read an interview with Pat. He said his biggest thrill is when a blind person greets him and says "thank you for helping me see the Cubs play." Baseball is a game with lots of spaces; a good broadcaster can convey information, wisdom, humor and excitement in those spaces. The magic of the broadcaster is much enhanced if you have a voice like Pat Hughes.
It is summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Twilight is upon us at 8:45PM. The Cubs are now down by 3 runs in the 6th inning. It is still hot - 89 degrees. I have the sprinklers on, and I am beginning to fade from my long day. But Pat is still talking on the radio, emoting, soothing us all with his word pictures. Thanks, man.