The Athletic Reporter
September 12, 2005 Sports News the Way You Want It. Completely Made Up. Issue 127
 
The Average Mulder
by Joe Mulder
Bob Casey

Even regular readers of this column might not know this, because I like to keep it sort of quiet, but, I was born and raised in Minnesota.

As such, I grew up going to the Metrodome to see the Minnesota Twins play baseball. And as Twins fans know, going to see the Minnesota Twins means going to hear Bob Casey.

Bob Casey died Sunday at the age of 79. He was the only public address announcer that the Twins ever had, save for the small handful of games he missed over the course of his 44-season career.

I didn't know Casey, but I knew his voice. We all did. Kirby Puckett's at-bats might have been as exciting without Casey's booming (if somewhat nasal) "KirbEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Puckett!" blaring over the loudspeakers, but I doubt it. That was Casey's ultimate mark on the game, I think; his ability to make the unmemorable -- a routine trip to the Dome, a routine at bat -- into something quite memorable indeed.

The Metrodome itself is as unmemorable as Major League Baseball stadiums go, antiseptic and artificial, convenient on cold days but awfully unfortunate during those beautiful evenings when you'd rather be enjoying the weather (and beautiful evenings are at a premium in Minnesota; it's a shame to have to waste one under a roof). And before 1987 -- and between 1992 and 2001 -- the Twins were lousy. Not much reason to go to a game, unless you really loved your baseball.

And, while you were there, at least you got to hear Bob Casey. Even if the game stunk, you got to hear Bob Casey. You got to spend time with your family or friends. You got to go to a Major League Baseball game.

And that's why, despite work stoppages, World Series cancellations and steroid scandals, it's impossible for me to share the fear of some in this country who worry that their memories of the game will be counterfeited. Records and statistics can be made less genuine by revelations of cheating after the fact, but memories -- my memories -- cannot. I haven't been to see the Twins at the Metrodome in years, but the memories will be there as long as I have memories at all.

I remember seeing Mark McGwire's 36th home run in 1998 at the Metrodome. I remember the Twins pitcher -- was it Dan Naulty? -- standing on the mound looking perturbed (not that I could blame him) at his home crowd for cheering a home run by a visiting player. I remember thinking, "dude, you play for the Twins. Be glad the ballpark's more than half full."

I remember my grandparents taking me to my first game with a group from the church; we rode up to Minneapolis and back in a charter bus, and on the way home I rested my head on my late grandmother's lap, waking up every so often to relive some part of the ballgame or another.

I remember my dad telling us about how he missed Randy Bush's grand slam because, at the exact moment the pitch was thrown, Paulette Lindquist pointed out a cute little ice cream sundae in an upside-down plastic miniature Twins helmet, and he looked at it.

I remember my friend Tom and I screaming and yelling with excitement when Shane Mack hit a grand slam, the first either of us had ever seen in person, during a game we went to with my dad.

I remember Tom and I, years later, driving ourselves to a Twins-Pirates game, getting tickets in the left field seats and resolving to heckle the Pirates' left fielder, whomever he may be. In the top of the first we saw the name "Smith" on the back of his jersey, and just as I thought, "well, that's a dead end," I heard Tom's voice pierce the funeral-quiet Metrodome (this was the top of the first inning of a Twins-Pirates game in 1997, keep in mind) with, "Hey, Smitty, we're gonna run all day on your pus arm!"

I remember Tom coining a phrase I use to this day as we were walking around the Metrodome concourse before a Twins-Yankees game. Tom looked up at the monitors displaying the game's starting lineups and exclaimed, "Jimmy Key? Boy, he's been pitching since 'Nam."

I remember my mom taking a tooth I'd yanked out at the Dome, during a game, and putting more money under my pillow than usual when we got back home.

I remember going on a school trip and seeing Kirby Puckett tie a record with four doubles in a single game, the last of which came after I started a Dome-wide "Kir-BEE! Kir-BEE! Kir-BEE!" chant from my seat in the upper deck, near the outfield scoreboard. I also remember David Swanson, one of the chaperones on the trip, on the ride home, allowing little old fifth-grade me to believe that I had started a Dome-wide chant on my own.

I remember David's son Joel and I, one summer when we were older, chaperoning other kids to the Metrodome and getting to see some of the Twins and Blue Jays players talk to us before the game. I remember shaking the hand of Toronto's Joe Carter that day, mere months before he would hit only the second World Series-ending home run in baseball history.

I remember going to the Metrodome in 1988 and 1992 and literally tingling with excitement and pride as Bob Casey introduced "Your World Champion Minnesota Twins."

That's how I'll remember Bob Casey. I'll remember him as a memorable announcer in an unmemorable ballpark, a living example of the fact that merely attending a Major League Baseball game -- no matter how inconsequential the game may appear -- might afford fans the opportunity to see something remarkable. Even if your team isn't any good, even if your ballpark is a dump, maybe you'll see something. Maybe something remarkable will happen in your ballpark, to your team.

Maybe Kirby Puckett will hit four doubles.

Maybe Shane Mack will hit a grand slam.

Maybe Shawn Green will hit four home runs.

Maybe Randy Velarde will turn an unassisted triple play.

Maybe Ken Griffey, Jr. will scale the outfield wall like Spiderman.

Maybe Nolan Ryan will throw a no-hitter.

Maybe Cecil Fielder will hit one over the outfield bleachers and into the parking lot.

Maybe Tommy Lasorda will get knocked over by a thrown bat.

Maybe Kerry Wood will strike out 20.

Maybe Jack Morris will pitch ten scoreless innings to win the World Series.

Maybe.

Maybe you'll be there to see it, and maybe you'll remember it forever.
Joe Mulder
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