Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Good Old Days

TigerBlog used to be part of a three-man radio broadcast of Princeton basketball, along with play-by-play man David Brody and color man Rich Simkus.

Three people on a radio radio broadcast usually doesn't work, since the three end up fighting for air time. With Princeton and its offense, there is more time to make points, so both Simkus and TigerBlog were able to get to talk.

Back then, the press area at Jadwin Gym was not around the court. Instead, it was in a section right at midcourt on the same side as the benches, right in the bleachers.

One night at Jadwin, Princeton reached the end of the first half after a lackluster effort, which basically led to this exchange:

TB: "Pete Carril looks pissed off."

Then, after noticing that Brody and Simkus were staring at him, TB followed up with:
"What? You can't say pissed off on the radio?"

Brody: "I guess you can, since you've said it twice."

Simkus: "You're beautiful."

Those were the days.

TB thought back to that exchange and his time on the radio with Brody and Simkus when he saw the picture on Jon Solomon's website of Brody as he interviewed Kit Mueller and Matt Lapin after the Tigers defeated Harvard to clinch the 1989 Ivy championship.

The point for Solomon is that it was his first Ivy League road trip. For TB, it was a reminder of a bunch of things.

First of all, there was Brody, who was the first play-by-play man TB worked with at Princeton. Brody was a perfectionist who viewed the broadcasts as "his show," and he wouldn't tolerate sloppiness.

TB first started doing radio in college, where the staff at WXPN sports included Scott Graham, who went on to do the Phillies for many years and now is on NFL Films among other outlets, Paul Jolovitz, who is on WIP and does the Eagles' postgame show, and a bunch of guys who are lawyers today.

Once TB started covering Princeton, he got to know Brody from being at games. Brody had TB on at halftime a few times, and then he just started doing the away games with him, as Brody had no color commentator on the road.

Simkus, one of Princeton's best centers and now the head of Simkus Wealth Management, only did the home games. Eventually, and TB isn't sure why, he began to join the other two on the home broadcasts as well.

Through the years, TB has seen the evolution of Princeton's radio play-by-play position from Brody to the present. It includes a pretty good litany, including Tom McCarthy (now the Phillies' TV man), Ed Benkin, Dan Loney, John Sadak, Derek Jones and a few others who have filled in along the way, including Peter Haskell, who might be familiar from his work on WCBS Newsradio 88 in New York City.

Walter Perez, who is a news reporter and anchor on Channel 6 Action News in Philadelphia, was a football color commentator here for a few years. Ahmed El-Nokali, of course, could have been a broadcaster similar to Doug Gottleib on ESPN, had he not chased a career in finance.

TB did some football work with McCarthy and Benkin and has done a lot of lacrosse as well. Mostly, though, he did men's basketball for years and years before turning it over to Noah Savage in mid-season last year.

Aside from the stroll down radio memory lane, the pictures on Solomon's site took TB back to the time when he first started to cover Princeton, to get to know Princeton athletes.

Yes, he did football (TB went an entire football season without having Steve Tosches know who he was) and lacrosse in the early days of Bill Tierney's time here, as well as some other stuff. Harvey Yavener, who made TB's schedule at the Trenton Times, would often talk like this:
"If you're going to Princeton for lacrosse, why don't you duck up early for the boats and then pick up Rider baseball on the way back?"

Mostly, though, TB covered Princeton basketball.

The first group he really got to know included Mueller, Lapin, Matt Eastwick, George Leftwich, Matt Henshon, Sean Jackson and that crowd.

It was that team, and of course Carril, who got TB to immediately switch allegiances from his alma mater to its arch-rival.

Looking at the pictures on, it all came rushing back: traveling on the bus with them, seeing the great successes they had, learning all about Carril, seeing the way people reacted to them on the road, chronicling all of it on a little Radio Shack word processor.

Back then, TB never dreamed that he'd still be here at Jadwin all these years later, watching athletes compete who weren't even born yet when Lapin and Mueller were being interviewed by Brody.

He also never dreamed that he'd bring TigerBlog Jr. and Little Miss TigerBlog to games here and every now and then see one of the guys from those times and introduce them and explain how great they were when they played here.

Today, TB has his fourth or fifth version of a Mac computer here, with plans to replace it in the near future for something newer and faster. The old Radio Shack sat in the closet for years, and now it's gone. TB isn't sure when it vanished.

In these times of sending an email that's there in less than a second, the Radio Shack seems like the first typewriter. You had to write your story and then hook the machine to a phone line, which would connect to the newspaper. Once you heard the connection, you had to press a bunch of keys to get it to send, which took about two minutes or so to do. Then you had to call in and see if it came through okay, which it did about 75% of the time.

Back then, it was way better than dictating and it seemed like cutting edge stuff.

Today, it generates a chuckle - and a nostalgic look at a truly great time for TB.


Anonymous said...

Why don't you tell everyone about your sports radio talk show on WXPN and the pizza giveaway?

Princeton OAC said...

Yes, TigerBlog used to do a show on the Penn student station, but it was on the other student station, WQHS. At one point, we were pretty sure nobody was listening, and so we decided to offer a pizza to the first person who called. Didn't have to answer a question or anything like that. Just call. No one did.