Friday, April 10, 2009

Never be the same

Talk about special.

Got home a little while ago. Closing the books on a tough week.

All I wanted to do was turn the phone off awhile, turn on the Braves game, cook some wings and drink a beer. So I did.

Home opener tonight in the ATL. The Nats are in town.

During the top half of the third guess who showed up in the booth? Pete Van Wieren, Skip's longtime partner, somebody who will forever feel like an old friend.

Pete retired last year. And, as you probably know, Skip died. I had been listening to them since 1985. I've spent more time with them than with members of my own family. I can promise you I would have never loved baseball -- or the Braves -- near as much without them.

The Professor was honored tonight before the game. Threw out the first pitch. The Braves gave him a golden microphone and named the radio booth after him.

So, he visited the Peachtree TV booth tonight to chat with Chip Caray and Joe Simpson. I almost teared up hearing that voice again.

Pete says he likes retirement. He doesn't miss the rain delays, or the west coast trips, or the visits to Shea Stadium. He likes being able to go to his grandchildren's activities. He and his wife want to travel.

But, you can tell he misses baseball.

He started talking about Derek Lowe as if he were still working the Braves beat. That man has forgotten more than most of us will ever know about the game.

As I listened to his voice, and thought about the memories, I mused that things won't ever be the same. I mentioned this to you when I wrote the blog on vacation at Bridget and Dewayne's after Christmas.

I miss the old TBS. I miss "Andy Griffith" and "Perry Mason" and "Sanford and Son" reruns. I miss the classic voice of the announcer that would promote the rural/Southern/action movies the station used to show. Heck, I miss the movies. I miss everything airing at either :05 or :35 after the hour.

And I miss the Braves. I miss all 162 games airing on Ted Turner's Superstation. I miss the low-key graphics, the bad instrumental music at commercial breaks, the times when things seemed simple.

Everything is so commercialized now, so homogenized. Somewhere along the way being regional became a bad word. I am proud to be a Southerner. I hope you're proud of your home region.

Oh, and how will I miss Skip and Pete. And Ernie Johnson. And Don Sutton and Joe Simpson, although they're still around.

It isn't the same. Never will be.

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