Back in September of 2008, I wrote a short blog called “From The Booth”. It sheds some light on I how came up with the name for my blog. I let you know that from the late ‘70s all the way to the early ‘90s, I was heavily involved with softball. When not managing the infamous 400 Club squad, I could be found in the booth at Finney's West, announcing games. On average, I was in that booth for 18 to 24 games a week, games that provided me with countless memories. I have decided to start sharing some of those memories with you from time to time.
My main duty in the booth was to announce and keep score for the game. Typically, I would call the managers up to the booth; ask them to write their lineup on a card we provided for them. Using the completed cards, I would transfer the lineups onto the official scorecard. I would then look up the individual player batting averages that I had calculated prior to coming to the park, so I was able to announce them during the game. That being done, I would them announce the game.
In addition to that, once the game had began, I was also my responsibility to collect money from the teams, schedule upcoming tournaments, make sure the scoreboard was correct, phone the head umpire with game times and pay the umps, the other announcers and scoreboard operators.
Oh ya, I was also getting the information ready for the next game that would be starting at the top of the hour.
Despite all of that activity, I did manage to find time to have some fun. On occasion it actually involved filling out the lineup cards.
One such instance was when Joe Gigliotti came to the booth to turn fill out the line up card for the team he managed, I believe it was Whale of a Wash and was sponsored by Terry Keller. It was an early Saturday morning tournament game.
After several attempts to get him up to the booth by calling over the PA, Joe finally made it. Standing behind the chest-high counter, the amiable manager greeted me cheerfully saying, “Hi Paulie, where are the lineup cards?”
Without looking up from my scorecard, I pointed to the pile of lineup cards in the small wooden box located on the wall just to the left of Joe’s shoulder. “Thanks, Paulie”, he chirped.
I nodded, muttering, “No problem” and went back to the game I was announcing. Thirty seconds later I was interrupted by, “Hey, where’s a pen?”
Again, not looking away from the game that I was announcing, I calmly asked, “Joe, isn’t there a pen on the counter right in front of you?” A sheepish, “Oops, sorry Paulie” was his reply.
Once more I turned my attention back to announcing the game. Again I was interrupted, this time by Joe frustratingly asking me for a pen that works, because “This one don’t work!”
Still not looking, I abruptly thrust out my left hand and said, “Let me see that pen, Gigs.” I called him “Gigs” because that’s what we Italians do, we shorten up the names of people and add an s. It’s what we do.
After taking the pen from the frustrated manager, I successfully scribbled with it on an old lineup card. Tossing it back on the counter, I curtly told him that it worked fine.
For a third time, I attempted to go back to the game I was supposed to be announcing. As you have probably already guessed, Joe had other plans for me.
I might be paraphrasing, but I do believe the phrase, “This piece of shit don’t work!” was expressed in my direction. And it was in a very exasperated tone, no less.
This time I turned to look at the testy Joe Gigs. What I saw nearly caused me to burst into uncontrollable laughter. There he was standing with the card at a 90° angle against the wall trying his best to write his lineup on it.
Trying my best not to chuckle, I shouted, “Joe! For crying out loud, that’s a 29¢ Bic special, it’s not going to write when you are holding it perpendicular to the card against the wall!”
The befuddled look at his face quickly told me that any further attempts at explanation would be futile. I stood up at the counter across from Joe, asked him for the lineup card and put it on the counter. I then told him to try one more time.
When the pen miraculously began to write, the look on Joe’s face immediately went from befuddlement to one of amazement. That look quickly changed to a suspicious grin when he loudly asked, “How did you do that, Paulie?”
Honest. He did. You can’t make up stuff like that.
I just shook my head in disbelief and went back to announcing the game, this time without any interruption. Joe successfully filled out his lineup card, his team then lost its game by the slaughter rule and I announced eight more games on that warm Saturday.
But none with such an comical beginning.
That’s just one of the numerous memories from the booth. I hope that you enjoyed reading it as much as I did reliving it in my mind as I wrote it. Before you click away, please make sure that you vote for your favorite Rock bands in the new poll just to the right of the blog. Until next time…from the booth.