Giants announcer wants 756 to be heard
SAN FRANCISCO Dave Flemming is best known for the call heard nowhere in the world.On the air in the San Francisco Giants radio booth when Barry Bonds hit his 715th career home run to pass Babe Ruth for second place all-time last year, Flemmings microphone went dead just before Bonds drive sailed over the fence.A call that likely would have been preserved for history at the Baseball Hall of Fame instead became one of the more memorable broadcasting blunders.It wasnt heartbreaking, but it wasnt fun, Flemming said. I was really disappointed the day it happened because I love those big moments and I thought I made a good call. But I got over it. Theres no reason to feel sorry for it. In the end, more people remember it because of what happened than if the call had just been normal.Flemming ended up getting national TV interviews and plenty of other exposure all because his microphone for KNBR radio went dead just as he was saying, The payoff pitch, a swing and a drive to deep cen …Then there was only applause from the fans instead of Flemming calling it a Ruthian shot to pass the Babe, and the description of the celebration surrounding the milestone. Broadcast partner Greg Papa eventually took over, recapping the scene well after the home run.I might have shot somebody if I had been on the air and that happened, said Giants broadcaster Jon Miller, who was in Texas that day preparing for a game on ESPN. I almost got physically ill just hearing about it. I cant even think of a story to match that in the history of broadcasting. What can you say to Dave? Next time a guy hits No. 715, youll have a chance to do that one. When will that be?But Flemming could get a chance to call an even bigger home run later this season. Bonds has 750 career home runs, six shy of breaking Hank Aarons career record of 755.And while all of the Giants play-by-play announcers would like the honor, they are also pulling for Flemming.If he calls it, I think it would be great, said Duane Kuiper, who called 715 on television. I would love it if hed be able to call it. Im still very upset the whole microphone thing went out.Bonds has had so many milestone homers over the years that Miller, Kuiper, Flemming and Papa have all had shots at describing them. In recent years, Bonds has reached career milestones of 500, 600 and 700. There was also the record setting 2001 season, when Bonds hit Nos. 71, 72 and 73 on the final weekend.There were the shots to tie and pass Willie Mays mark of 660 in 2004 and most recently the National League record No. 734 last season.Having called nearly all of those homers on either TV or radio, Kuiper has one piece of advice he always follows.I write the number of the home run in big letters on either a piece of paper or on the counter, he said. I always felt like the only thing you can really do to look bad is get the number wrong. If you get the number right, at least youre off to a good start. If you get the number wrong, you cant put that bullet back in the gun.Some announcers prepare lines to use for milestone homers, as Milo Hamilton did in his call of Aarons record-breaker in 1974: There is a new home run champion of all-time … and its Henry Aaron!That call, which Miller described as genius, is the definitive one of Aarons 715th, although the Giants broadcasters all said they had no prepared phrases to use and would let the specifics of the moment dictate their call.Curt Gowdy offered a more subdued call of Aarons record-breaker on NBCs national telecast and Vin Scullys description on the Dodgers radio broadcast gets little play but was cited by both Miller and Kuiper as one of their favorites.Scully described the home run and then went silent for more than 25 seconds, letting the cheers of the crowd tell the story. He then came back on the air and talked about how marvelous it was that A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol.While race was a big element of Aarons record-breaker, Bonds chase is being overshadowed by allegations of steroid use. Miller said he didnt think it would be appropriate to go into the details of the BALCO scandal and steroids during the record home run call.
But he also knows that people could look back at the call and find that element lacking.Ive thought about that. What if years from now theres incontrovertible evidence that Barry did it, and did it for years, and theres a home run call where its just total admiration, Miller said. Will that sound silly? How can I be concerned about that. Its a home run in a baseball game. Its not the story of his career. Its the call of that one home run, that one moment in time.Miller added that since the homer will be a moment of celebration for Giants fans, the teams broadcast should reflect that. The announcers for the opposing team wont have that problem.Scully last year described the idea of calling Bonds record-breaker awkward. Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman was even more outspoken.He doesnt want to do it in Cincinnati if hes relying on my call, Brennaman said. Hell break the record, but Henry Aaron is still the all-time home run king. I feel sorry for the guys calling Giants games. They have to be politically correct. I dont have to be.AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.