The great home run call that wasn’t

flemming.jpgAs anyone who cares probably already knows — 20 minutes after it happened — Barry Bonds hit home run no. 715 today. But for listeners to the Giants radio broadcast, this was, for a few moments, merely a matter of speculation.

Bonds came up in the bottom of the 4th inning following a leadoff walk to Steve Finley. Byung-Hyun Kim threw a fastball on a 2-2 count, and broadcaster Dave Flemming started shouting:

“Swing and a drive, deep to –“

Then nothing.

Except, of course, for the roar of the crowd and the sounds of the foghorns which are blasted for homers. Radio listeners sat agog all over northern California, staring blankly ahead at the wheels of their cars, or pausing in their painting of the garage, listening to the pandemonium in Whatever-Its-Called-This-Year Park.

Me, I was driving over the Bay Bridge toward the city after sititng in a traffic jam at the toll plaza for a half hour. As the seconds lengthened with no sound coming out of the radio than the roar of the crowd, I considered the possibilities. Flemming got so excited he knocked the microphone over. Or he jumped so high he fell out of the booth. Or he had a heart attack. Who knew?

Finally, Giants announcer Greg Papa came on the air, confirming Bonds had hit the home run, narrating the unfurling of huge banners that have been hanging off the scoreboard for weeks in preparation for this exact moment. After a minute he said “We did lose Dave Flemming’s microphone, but we hope you heard his call of that majestic home run…”


Papa narrated Bonds’ curtain calls and the first pitches to the next batter. Finally he said again that they had “lost” Flemming’s microphone and that he would pass his headset to the hapless young announcer so he could continue calling the game. There was a long pause, during which, presumably, Papa removed his headset and Flemming put it on; that took away the possibility that Flemming had actually knocked his microphone over in the excitement. Apparently it just went out — at the worst possible moment.

Ironically, the snafu came on the same day that the SF Chronicle published a long article on the increasingly strained relationship between the Giants team and their long-time flagship radio station KNBR.

Somebody watch the Golden Gate Bridge this evening for that guy jumping off.

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