I was talking with Chris Velardi (anchor/reporter) at the station tonight.
He’s a big Mets fan, so I found it necessary to remind him of their current plight. I’m like a sixteen year old in this regard.
I talked about our MLB video purchase and then he trumped me – he actually bought a minor league video package. Chris Velardi – you are hardcore!
Pretty soon the conversation moved to an announcer I remembered from when I was a kid. Hopefully my dad will leave a comment, because he’s the reason I know this guy.
Back in 1958 (when I was 8), the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco. What had been a three team town, was left with the Yankees alone.
You’ve got to remember – neither team (NY Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers) left because of lack of support. They just got much better deals out-of-town. There was plenty of pent up National League interest and support in New York.
One radio station, WINS, decided it would make the best of the situation and continue to broadcast the Giants’ games. Instead of sending announcers out with the team, then paying for a remote line, they put Les Keiter in the studio.
I remember hot summer nights, driving in the car with my dad. The windows were rolled down. The radio was on. It was a summer of Mays, McCovey and more than one Alou. Juan Marichal was becoming a genuine ‘phenom’.
Keiter worked with a background loop of crowd noise¹, the sound of a bat, and a reasonably steady stream of wire service reports. He recreated the games.
The scores and stats were real, but the flavor of the game was totally the product of Keiter’s imagination.
Alas, the experiment didn’t last. That Marichal was covered meant it went at least to 1960.
Maybe Les Keiter’s call wasn’t as exciting as the real thing, or maybe New Yorker’s got the message the Giants weren’t coming back and lost interest. The broadcasts ended. Keiter moved on. The Yankees went back to being the only game in town.
Les Keiter is in his 80s now, retired in Hawaii. He spent a few seasons recreating the games of the Hawaiian minor league team.
He’s why I still remember most of the names from the ’58 San Francisco Giants and why I missed a departed team I was really too young to remember.
¹ – The crowd noise loop was much too short to be used every day, especially with an irritating and predicably timed, “woo hoo” every few minutes.