I surprised at least one friend when I posted, “WPS a runaway game. NC needed the mercy rule. 21 runs for Arkansas to their 2.”
“I never would have guessed you were a baseball fan,” wrote my former co-worker John.
“We were traveling. I kept hubby updated as he drove,” I answered.
Initially I didn’t realize I had married a sports fan. With no TV, poor radio reception and lots of children to supervise, we did not need to import crowd noise.
I knew my Hoosier bred and born hubby loved basketball. He worked long hours at the lab, yet found time to take the boys to games, put up a hoop and checked the scores. Although I came from a family of basketball players, following my first college basketball game, my roommate observed, “You looked bored.”
“I was.” I never returned. I focused on books, sewing, music and family.
Then one day, he hauled the radio outside.
“Why are you doing that?”
“I want to hear the game.”
And that began the evolution of our home from no games and no TV to a black and white and eventually a large, modern flat screen. During games I often escape to the sewing room. Doesn’t bother him; he stands in the door during games to announce scores and amazing plays.
I nod, snip threads and rev the machine.
Razorback football hardly warranted any TV time last fall. “Ahh, they will never get it right.” “Come on. Hold onto that ball.” “We need another coach.”
Razorback basketball reached the Sweet Sixteen, and he glowed.
Then came this year’s Razorback baseball team with one victory after another. “This pitcher is incredible,” hubby gushed. “They may start out slow but they usually end up winning,” he said repeatedly.
Too busy to leave my lounge chair, I accepted the ball game as background noise with the occasional excited command, “You gotta watch this replay.”
The ball flew across the plate. Sometimes a bat caught it. Someone caught it. I nodded and returned to my project.
This spring we took several trips during important games with little or no radio reception.
During the tense play-offs with New Jersey IT the radio failed. “Usually I would root for them as the Cinderella team, but I really want the Razorbacks to win,” my sometimes sports fan declared.
He fiddled with the controls. I cringed at annoyingly loud, static radio broadcasts until I heard nothing intelligent. Using my cell phone, I found a site with online, live statistics.
“They made a run,” I read aloud. For the next couple hours I tapped the phone every few minutes and reported the latest score as he drove. The NJIT wins took the Razorbacks to the super regional playoffs. The first game found the two of us traveling in the deep woods. He drove, I read the stats.
“Does this little diamond with dots show players on base?”
I quickly deciphered the terse comments as the Razorbacks scored run after run.
“They need the Mercy Rule,” I said proud that I knew it meant the officials should say, “You win.”
“They don’t do that in college,” he said.
The Razorbacks won 21-2 against the North Carolina TarHeels on Friday. My cell phone provided the stats for the game on Saturday. We were home in time for the TV announcers on Sunday. I bet the Razorbacks wished they could have carried over a couple of those 21 runs for those games. They lost 5-6 and 3-2.
That ended my season as announcer. I may not love the game, but I do love my guy, and he really wanted to know the score.
Joan Hershberger is a former staff writer for the El Dorado News-Times and author of “Twenty Gallons of Milk and other columns from the El Dorado News-Times.”