Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Boog And Bus

TigerBlog is pretty sure that the game was Trenton High vs. Atlantic City High, the first game that Tom McCarthy did on the radio back when he and TigerBlog worked together at the Trenton Times.

McCarthy, who covered high school sports primarily, was all excited the day of the game. He wanted to get into broadcasting, and this was Step 1 in the process.

The next day, TigerBlog and McCarthy stood in the same spot, talking about how it went when Harvey Yavener walked by, resulting in this actual conversation:

Yav - "Yeah, I heard you on the radio."
McCarthy - "What did you think?"
Yav - "Work on your writing."

It was Yav's way of saying that McCarthy was off to a good start.

Shortly after that, McCarthy left to the newspaper to take over in the front office of the fledgling Trenton Thunder, a Double-A baseball team in the Detroit Tigers' system that would be playing in a stadium being built around the corner from where TB was living at the time.

TB tried to tell McCarthy that it would never work, that nobody would ever come to see Minor League Baseball in Trenton and park their car there at night and all.

As TB has said many times before, he's never been more wrong about anything.

As it turned out, McCarthy was in the right place at the right time. The radio voice of the Thunder, he was able to use that as a stepping stone to the Major Leagues, where he is now the television voice of the Philadelphia Phillies, who have already won one World Series during McCarthy's time there.

His resume includes a time on WFAN with the Mets.

McCarthy will be inducted tonight into the Trenton Baseball Hall of Fame, becoming one of 16 members of that fraternity.

McCarthy - known by many as "Boog" for his former resemblance to the longtime Orioles' first baseman Boog Powell, and the fact that McCarthy used to play first base - has certainly come a long way since Trenton High vs. Atlantic City High.

His broadcasting career isn't limited to baseball.

He spent most of a decade as the basketball play-by-play man for Princeton, and he also did several seasons of Princeton football.

When TigerBlog looks back on his nearly 25 years of working at Princeton between the newspaper and the OAC, some of his very best memories are the times he spent with McCarthy, both the events themselves and the travel to and from them.

TigerBlog has spent more time on airplanes with McCarthy than with anyone else, to and from destinations as varied as Green Bay and Ames, Iowa, to Hawaii and Miami.

There were countless hours riding together in autumns and winters to Ivy League destinations, returning usually after a win but also after some excruciating losses.

The more that life in the OAC evolves, the further away from those days TB gets, and he knows he'll never repeat the relationship that he had with McCarthy.

As TB said, McCarthy is one of 16 members of the Trenton Baseball Hall of Fame. One of the other 15, a man named Bus Saidt, also was a former Trenton Times writer who also was a longtime Princeton football broadcaster.

In fact, as TB recalls, Bus was the No. 2 choice for the Phillies' radio spot when the job originally went to Harry Kalas in 1971.

Saidt, who was Yav's best friend, had two careers, first as an accountant for the City of Trenton and then as a sportswriter. While in his accounting days, Saidt would do Princeton football on the radio.

Saidt, in his early 40s, left the accounting business to become a full-time sportswriter. During his prime, Saidt would take the old Trenton Times car and head off to cover either the Mets, Yankees or Phillies, depending on who was home that night. Every night he'd be at one of them; during the winter, he'd write columns about almost anything.

Eventually, Saidt was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Bus (whose real name was Harold) was on the job at the paper every day up until his death in 1989, at the age of 68.

Saidt was a Trenton legend when TigerBlog first started in the business, and he could be ornery and intimidating at times.

Mostly, though, he was a kind man, one who constantly encouraged the army of young writers who appeared in the building in the mid-'80s.

The first story that TB ever wrote that appeared on the front page of the sports section was a Princeton High tennis match in the state tournament. Princeton High won the match in really dramatic fashion, and there was a huge headline on the top of section.

TB was all proud of himself when Bus walked in, picked up the paper, saw the size of the headline and snapped:

"What happened? The war end?"

TB has thought about Bus many times through the years, thought about his work ethic, the way he did his job, his relationship with Yav (who was touched hard by Bus' death).

As for McCarthy, he and TB are still friends, even if they don't talk as much as TB would like.

Still, TB couldn't be happier for anyone for how he's reached his lifelong dream.

Tonight, Boog joins Bus in one Hall of Fame. Maybe 25 years from now, he can join him in the other one.

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