Curt Smith was 11 years old the first time he visited the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he’s been back more than 75 times since.
“And the novelty hasn’t faded,” he said.
But for visitors in Cooperstown for Hall of Fame Weekend, Smith’s Authors’ Series program made it a visit to remember. Smith, a columnist, University of Rochester lecturer and former presidential speechwriter, has written a new book entitled A Talk in the Park: Nine Decades of Tales from the Broadcast Booth.
“This book features 116 announcers – the largest collection of any sports book ever – sharing stories from baseball history,” said Smith. “Some are very poignant and touching and others – it is like the book Joe Garagiola wrote called Baseball is a Funny Game. It’s true.”
Like Ken Harrelson, broadcaster for the Chicago White Sox and former major leaguer who defended his one handed catch by saying, ” with hands as bad as mine, one hand is better than two.”
Or Steve Blass, who was one of the only players in baseball history who was traded in Little League. He was moved from the Yankees to the Giants because the Yankees didn’t have a uniform small enough to fit him. Each big league team and network is represented in the book – so every baseball fan can find something that touches their baseball experience. The voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, Jerry Howarth, in town for the induction of Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick, attended the program and shared some laughs at stories of his broadcast colleagues.
Garagiola once said to Yogi Berra that he was amazed that Berra was such a world figure, he drew more applause than a president or prime minister. When he asked Berra how he explained it, Berra responded, “Easy, I’m a better hitter.”
The book is available in the Museum Bookstore and a portion of the proceeds from the book benefit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
One final story told by Smith was a quote from 2008 Ford C. Frick Award winner Dave Niehaus, broadcaster for the Seattle Mariners who passed away last year at the young age of 75. Niehaus described his impressions of Cooperstown.
“When you come here you know there is no place like it in the world. It’s like going to Disney World, but you don’t have to pay for rides.”
Samantha Carr is the manager of web and digital media for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.