We miss sports so much so that we started asking ourselves this question: What was the moment or reason that we fell in love with sports in the first place? Now we're sharing the stories that answer that question. JR Radcliffe.
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"Molitor has hit for the CYCLE!"
I had two thoughts as I sat up with a jolt that evening in 1991, with Milwaukee Brewers announcer Bob Uecker's elation coming through loud and clear even though the nearby boom box — repaired with tattered duct tape — was set to one of the lowest audio settings.
The first thought: I needed to restrain my excitement so my parents didn't hear me downstairs and realize their 9-year-old son was very much still awake. The second ... well, I had to figure out what a "cycle" meant.
The Brewers were staples of my childhood growing up in northern Wisconsin, hours away from Milwaukee, where TV broadcasts were essentially non-existent, but Uecker and his cohort Pat Hughes were my nightly guides. Those teams weren't always world-beaters, though the 1992 team almost made the playoffs and there were plenty of memorable highlights, like Molitor's cycle in Minnesota on that May night in 1991 or Robin Yount recording his 3,000th career hit a year later.
I couldn't even see baseball, but I was consumed by it. It didn't matter if the club was playing on the West Coast or 25 games out of first place, it was can't-miss listening. There was just something about Uecker's storytelling and the prolonged conversation of anticipation before those big breakthrough moments of a baseball game. My parents were fans but they weren't diehards. My friends were cognizant of the Brewers but they couldn't recite stats and didn't have a ridiculous baseball card collection naively carried around in a plastic bag. Where I lived, Brewers baseball was singularly mine.
That boy would have been delighted to know he'd someday get to attend even one game (as he first did in 1995), let alone attend numerous games in Milwaukee as part of his professional life. Perhaps the greatest connection I feel to the history of the game is the relationship previous generations had to radio broadcasts, when announcers were celebrities in their own right and conduits to basically an unseen world. My kids will only know baseball as a visual experience. There won't be a need to creatively fill in the blanks, an exercise I'm confident I experienced on the way to pursuing a field that requires a certain measure of that creativity.
I fell in love with the stories first. Uecker is a masterclass in entertainment, weaving through comic timing and anecdotes but remaining flexible to drop everything for the thrill of the crescendo. How can anyone who falls in love with baseball through that lens ever forget how the sport makes them feel?
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