Some of my recent readers know that I have a passion for Bible translation and Bible study. But now you’ll hear about another of my passions: baseball…especially Minnesota Twins baseball! That will be the subject of the next couple entries.
And so we begin…
Last Sunday afternoon I got word of the passing of a man who had been a friend for 45 years. Well, he wasn’t a personal friend; in fact, I had never even met him. But oh, how I knew his voice!
Herb Carneal was 83 years old, and had been in ill health for several years. I understand he had used a walker for most of the last several years, and in recent months he was wheeled around in a wheelchair. But he was ready, even excited about the start of the baseball season this year. Unfortunately his failing health forced him to notify the Twins front office that he would have to pass on the opening game, but he hoped to be able to come to the games again in the near future.
Why should someone care so much about baseball games that he would inform the team when he would have to miss a game? And why should that team even care?
You see, Herb Carneal had been the radio voice of the Minnesota Twins since 1962, 45 years ago! In the early years he teamed up with Ray Scott and Halsey Hall on the broadcast team. As I recall, back then the guys would spend a couple innings in the radio booth, and then a couple in the TV broadcast booth, switching back and forth; unlike today when we have separate broadcast teams for both radio and TV. Anyway, Ray Scott moved on to other things, and Halsey Hall passed on to the big broadcast booth in the sky. But Herb just kept on, his dulcet tones wafting through the air on hot summer afternoons, mixing in with the whine of the cicadas, the roar of the lawnmowers, the laughter of the kids, and the squealing tires of the hot rods as the days moved through the 60s and 70s. Herb was always there, his mellifluous voice an ever present sound of summer in Minnesota.
I was watching the Twins home opener on Monday night, and there was a poignant tribute to Herb on TV before the game, and I understand it was visible to the fans at the stadium as well. But it bothered me because every time we heard Herb’s voice in that tribute, he was calling a world series or championship game, but in reality the way we true Twins fans remember Herb is that constant, friendly, unassuming voice droning on through the summer. Herb loved to see the Twins win the World Series as much as anybody, but the truth is, many of us never even heard him call those games – we watched them on TV, with the network’s chosen announcers. And they were never half as good as Herb!
Some lately have mentioned Herb’s smooth southern drawl…is that what it was? I never noticed a southern drawl. To me, Herb was pure Minnesota Twins baseball. Herb was the way the Twins sounded, that’s simply all there was to it.
At the end of the game, Herb would always sign off with a simple phrase, “So long everybody!” Now that Herb has gone on to his reward, all I can say is, so long, Herb! God bless you! And I hope to hear you calling heavenly baseball games again someday.