Stories of Seaver and Ryan on the Network

I’ve been watching MLB Network here and there, both at work and at home, and I really should start keeping it on in the background or as my default channel for idle loafing. (“Idle loafing” — not oxymoronic, just hyper-loaf-like.)

First, there was the second part of an interview with Tom Seaver on “MLB Tonight” in which he talks about the Hall of Fame’s Induction Weekend. The best part — his favorite part, he said — is the Sunday night dinner. There are only three types of people allowed into the room: Hall of Famers, the Commissioner of baseball and the president of the Hall of Fame (and, presumably, the catering staff, so I guess that’s four types).

If I could have access to any room anywhere in the world — perhaps at any time in history — that room would be in the top five. Off the top of my head, I’d add: Independence Hall when they were hashing out the Declaration of Independence; the Oval Office at some seminal moment in history, perhaps when FDR learned about Pearl Harbor (or when, if the legend is true, he learned of a possible attack ahead of time and decided to let it happen to justify entering the U.S. into World War II); a pop-culture moment or two, like when Bruce Springsteen met Clarence Clemons or played “Thunder Road” for the first time, or when Jack Kerouac met Allen Ginsberg or Neal Cassady; and the ballroom or wherever Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “Mountaintop” speech the night before he was killed.

But back to the Hall of Famers dinner. Can you imagine that room? Seaver, Bob Gibson, Stan Musial, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Ralph Kiner, Hank Aaron. And so many more. But maybe I wouldn’t want to be in that room some day — because it would mean I’d have to leave.

Later on the Network — now, actually, as I wrap up at the office — is a re-airing of Nolan Ryan’s seventh no-hitter, from May 1, 1991. I remember reading about it the next morning. In New Jersey, of course, we didn’t get the game on TV, and there was no MLB.TV or Extra Innings package on cable (not that my family had cable in 1991). It doesn’t even appear that it aired locally in Texas. I’ve only been half-listening, but I got the impression that this was the Blue Jays broadcast. Part of what led me to that conclusion was one announcer — the color commentator, so presumably a former player (he sounds young, and not like a veteran TV/radio man) — noted how Ryan grunted when he threw his fastball. “Nolan only grunts on the fastball. As a hitter, if you can pick up on that, you know it’s a fastball. He doesn’t grunt when he throws a curveball.”

But then there’s the matter of physics — light travels faster than sound, so by the time the batter hears the grunt, it’s too late to catch up to the fastball.

2 comments on “Stories of Seaver and Ryan on the Network

  1. I’m not so convinced. The guy was a workout freak, and it’s not unusual for some pitchers to have long careers. If you look at him today, he’s still an imposing person. Plus, he never really had the mid-career swoon that Clemens did that prompted the Sox to call him finished. I think Clemens did what he did in part because he was dying to be Nolan Ryan, but he just wasn’t quite good enough.

Leave a Reply