Five years ago, my wife bought me what I now call the second best gift she has ever given me: Satellite Radio (the greatest would come a couple years later when, come Christmas morning I would open up a box in which would be found a Stan Musial rookie card - I cried when I saw that. And that would be the same Christmas my son would give me a Nolan Ryan rookie card. Beat that for best Christmases ever).
What I couldn't believe is that from that point forward I could listen to baseball analysis, games, or commentary 24 hours a day. I was in heaven. Over 200 stations, and the only time I listen to anything but MLB radio is when they are in commercial.
So, guess what I was doing at 4:00 this afternoon? With a mix of hope and skepticism, I turned on MLB TV. The hope was that now, whether on the road or in my living room, baseball would always be accessible to me. The skepticism was how worthwhile it would be. I mean, Bud Selig had something to do with this - so how good could it be?
After my first four hours, I'm hooked. The first hour, with Mat Vaskergian, Al Leiter, Harold Reynolds, and Barry Larkin was fine. It was good.
And my programming told me that some game from the past would follow. Not until right before it would come on would I discover that they were going to rebroadcast in its entirety Don Larsen's perfect game, including the original commercials. I say the entire game, but for some reason the first inning and the first out of the second inning are lost - so they picked it up from there. In between innings, Bob Costas would interview Yogi Berra and Don Larsen. As moving as the game itself would be, the best moment would come when Yogi, having caught the final pitch that would strike out Dale Mitchell, would run up the line and leap in Don's arms and MLB TV would split the screen and show a close-up of Don Larsen, 80 years young, watching that moment. The look on his face - that was the best moment.
What can I say? I'm hooked. I can't imagine leaving my couch, ever again.
Some interesting insights, having now watched this most historic of games and heard the interview with Yogi and Don:
the pace of the game, perfect game though it may have been, was so much quicker than it is today
the broadcast time was split by two solo performers: the Yankees Mel Allen and the Dodger's 28 year old Vin Scully
there were no instant replays and stop action, so... did Duke Snider make that catch off the bat of Yogi in the 4th or did he trap the ball? Either way, it was spectacular
how odd was it to hear, after watching Mantle make that incredible catch himself an inning after Snider's, Larsen say he never considered Mantle that great an outfielder?
we hear players today talk about how much the strike zone has shrunk - this really makes it clear. Wow.
Jackie Robinson played 3rd in this game for Brooklyn - I was not expecting that, even though I knew he ended his career there. He hit a foul ball of the facade at top of the stadium way down the left field line that was incredible.
listening to Yogi and Don talk about the antics in the dugout once everyone knew what was at stake was delectable - a sweetness unexpected. Don said his leg was shaking as he took the mound in the 9th.
a couple near misses: Jackie leads off the second with a line shot off of third baseman Carey's glove, which ricochets to McDougald at short who throws to nail an older Jackie at first; Snider comes up with two out in the 4th and hits a line shot into the upper deck just inches foul; Sandy Amoros comes up in the 5th and hits a shot inches foul into the lower right field deck.
Don Larsen admitted two things that I found touching and amusing: he thinks about what he did that day 53 years ago every day of his life, sometimes several times; when he walked off the mound, he didn't know he had thrown a perfect game (a no-hitter yes, but perfect game - no) and would not learn of that until a reporter mentioned it to him in the dugout long after the game was over.
and finally, and this could only happen in baseball, to celebrate this great moment in both Yankee and baseball history, the Yankees a few years back asked Don Larsen to throw the game's first pitch to Yogi Berra. On that very day, in Yankee Stadium, David Cone would throw his own perfect game. Don stayed and watched the entire game - the only full game of baseball he has watched since his retirement. As Costas would quip having heard that: "OH, so I guess if it isn't a perfect game you won't watch?"
Only in baseball, my friends, only in baseball. You gotta love it.