Tuesday, September 22, 2009
From Peanuts to the Pressbox
"If he wasn’t certifiably insane, then he was waiting for the certificate to arrive any day."
I freely admit to not knowing anything about sports (except figure skating). I still requested the autobiography of a sports broadcaster for review from Thomas Nelson, for one reason – the author, Eli Gold, started out selling peanuts in the stadiums and eventually became “the Voice of the Crimson Tide”, one of the most well-known broadcasters in the country.
Talk about the American Dream.
I was curious about how he worked his way from one part of the stadium to another. As it turns out, you don’t need to be too familiar with football, baseball, hockey or NASCAR to enjoy the journey, the insider stories and the humor in From Peanuts to the Pressbox: Insider Sports Stories from a Life Behind the Mic. Eli Gold barely completed even a high school education – he skipped classes so he could attend ball games and study what the commentators did. But he had immense enthusiasm for the sports and for describing them. And he had persistence. Anyone with a similar passion can appreciate that.
It was also interesting to read about how people listened to sports in his time (through heavy portable radios) and how editing was done (with a pair of scissors, as opposed to with a computer and a wav file). And the stories are funny too. You don’t need to know the rules of sports to enjoy the description of how a hockey team called the Ducks borrowed new, bright lights for a game, only to find that the heat from the lights melted the ice. I imagined a lot of swimming Ducks here.
There’s also the tale of the hockey match where a player was spat on by a fan. This was back in the day when arenas were surrounded by meshes, so the player shoved the butt end of his stick through a hole in the mesh, and it knocked the fan’s teeth out. Well, even I knew hockey was kind of a violent sport.
There was one error – the author mentions going to Toronto and having dinner on Young Street. I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be Yonge Street. Other than that, though, I’d give this book as a gift to anyone who likes sports.