Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Pay Phone

Based on the number of responses we are getting on this blog so far, baseball seems to be a favorite topic. So with the Major League Baseball All-Star Game being played tonight, I thought it was time for another great Vanderbilt baseball story from the days when we were on campus.

I also wanted to do another baseball story to find an excuse to use the great photograph above of two of Vanderbilt's finest athletes ever, Jeff Peeples and Watson Brown.

My story isn't really about the Vanderbilt baseball team, per se. It's about what happened when we at WRVU tried to broadcast one of their games live in the spring of 1972.

In those years, WLAC-AM (1510) carried most of the major games, especially our SEC contests. But we at the campus station managed to work in our share of broadcasts. That included a game against Belmont that was actually played on old Diamond #1 in Centennial Park (where the Sportplex is located today).

I thought we broadcast a doubleheader that day (I remember it was Sunday afternoon). However in checking the Vanderbilt baseball media guide I couldn't find a twin bill listed that year.

Regardless, we rigged up a way to send the broadcast signal back to the station (including, I remember, someone wrecking their car on the way back and forth from WRVU to the park). We did it by sending the signal down a line from a pay phone booth (remember pay phones?). I think we used some alligator clips.

Anyway, we broadcast the game (Vanderbilt won, which the media guide confirms) and we went on with our business. Until about a week or two later when the WRVU Station Manager Courtenay Carson dropped by the studios. He was furious about a call he had gotten from someone at the telephone company. They wanted an explanation about a 4-hour-plus phone call made to the station from a pay phone in Centennial Park.

Now Station Manager Carson didn't know anything about our baseball broadcast of the Belmont game. Usually, you had to buy an expensive special line to broadcast remotes like that (we had a permanent line to McGugin to broadcast regular home games). So Carson denied any such call happening and swore to the phone company people that the station was innocent.

No, we told him. We did the broadcast, and yes, we did it using alligator clips and the line in the pay phone booth at the park....and all for one thin dime (the cost of a pay call in those days).

You should have seen the look on Courtenay's face. :)

There's another story I can tell about trying to broadcast Vanderbilt's 1973 SEC Championship Series game against Alabama from Tuscaloosa. But I'll save it for when the Major League playoffs get under way in October.

Don't forget to leave your thoughts below.


Anonymous said...

actually Pat, we didn't even use a dime. I copied down the phone number the day before when we scouted out the location, and the station called us.

I want to say in that game that Watson Brown hit either a 3 run homer or a grand slam that he absolutely flew around the bases on, there was no outfield fence, and he hit it a mile. I think the relay throw came in the next day.

For all of his running around the backfield looking for a receiver, Watson Brown was a very good baseball player. He was a whiz at shortstop and at the plate.

Steve Womack

vandypitcher said...

good memory..watson only played in 1972 and unfortuantely broke his hand half way during the season...he was a very good baseball player...he mostly played SS to the best of my memory..then ted shipley took over..watson might have played some OF as well..he played in 29 games...he hit .223..he had 2 HRs..he had 12 RBIs..5 doubles..he walked alot..17 times in 94 ABs..he had 6 SBs.....our team that yr was the most talented of all the 1970s teams and we should have won the SEC abd gone to OMAHA....peeples, willis,mclean,rhodes,wessel all later pitched professionally( pitched on that team ) , steve burger was 6-0 as a pitcher ,and duncan, shipley, winchester,and collins all later played professionally and estep and reasonover and mclean ( as a hitter too ) were all SEC and robert hendrickson was the best deffence 2B in the country the next yr( util. that yr ) and tommy powell was his usual game--winning over-achieving self in 1972 as well..and chuck boyett..a great catcher was on the team as well...we went 35--15...13-3 in the SEC...ranked in the top 10 in the nation most of the yr...bill winchester had 55 RBIs in 50 games..( wood bats remember ) .rick duncan hit .354 as a freshman ..peeples had a 1.30 ERA..several coaches called estep the best all-around player in the nation that yr...mark bode .pitcher..class of 73

Anonymous said...

Like they said in Ball Four:
Bode, tell your statistics to shut up.

Please tell me you looked that up and didn't remember it all!

We had been gradually getting better during our years at Vandy.
Remember Elliot Jones and Adams Carroll? You are right in that in many respects the 72 team was the best team we ever fielded. Loosing Estep, Winchester, Willis, Boyett, and Reasonover we had a good many holes to fill going into the season.

The pitching rotation of Willis, McLean (he of the curve ball), and Peebles was an early version of Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz.

I remember interviewing Robert Hendrickson before the '73 season (I think he had played every position except pitcher or catcher in 72, but filled in mostly at 3rd when McLean pitched) and I asked him what position he thought he would play in 73? He said 2nd base. When I asked why he said "'Cause Bill Hardin can't play 2nd base, and I can."

And, don't sell yourself short, Mark, you got quite a few people out with that junk you threw.
I can remember quite a few batters actually falling down thinking they were going to hit your stuff and looking foolish when they missed.
Hey, Pat and I were broadcasting those games along with Mike Anzek, Don Powell, and Elliott Rothberg, and we loved it when you came in, cause we knew what was coming even if the opposing batters didn't.

By the way Mark, did you ever get a hit?

A tip of the cap to you, Sam Wallace, Wayne Palmore and the other hitters and pitchers that gave all of us McGugin crazies something to cheer about in the Winter/Spring of our college years.

Steve Womack

vandy pitcher said...

thanks pat...it was a big deal that our games started to be broadcast back then....no....i cant remember MY NAME any more ( or more than 5 of the names of my 8 exwives..but that is another story ) LOL....but i did keep all the old programs and stat sheets and i have many of the newspaper articles written about us ( it is much safer now- a- days to stay home on " sat night " and read old newspaper clipping about ( me for the 100th time LOL ) rather than go out looking for " wife # 9 " ..that just aint gonna happen AGAIN in THIS lifetime ) only complete( male ) fools get married if they live in florida ( another story for another day ) ( besides , i am writing a book about it all LOL )..hitting ?? i was a " .400 hitter " at vanderbilt i will have you know ( 4 for 10 but what the hell...i DID get the winning hit against arizona st our senior yr ..yeah a bunt but..what the hell....looked like a line drive in the box score the next day ) i had fun announceing the starting lineups with you guys before some of the home games...schmittou let me pitch enough to be # 2 still in carrer "saves" in the record books so that was fun....but those big guys ( peeples willis etc) were all way better than me..actually that helped me when i pitched...the hitters had to adjust from '95" MPH aagainst the starter to " 75 " MPH against me in the late innings LOL...wayne palmore came on in 1973 to do a great job pitching.....and my buddy ed white ( we threw about the same ) did a great job as well...i think he is the team chaplin now as a matter of fact...tommy powell has been very active with the program for many years...robert hendrickson was a great great competitor....he was the best utility guy in the league in 72 and he was definately the best defensive 2B man in the country in 73....i dont think he ever made an error...he didnt play much 3B....mclain played there in 70, reasonover in 71 and 72....and bill hardin and " doc " lipscomb in 73....robert played some SS and 2B and OF in 72 but mostly 1B when mclain pitched.....correct..and he could play any position on the field...remember estep.. winchester.. reasonover.. willis ..boyett etc graduated in 72...we won the SEC the next yr in 73 although our best team was probably 72....we were loaded and belonged in omaha...watson brown started as our SS in 72 but he broke his hand and ted shipley moved in to SS ( to stay LOL....he was great...got to AAA pro ball along with rick duncan his buddy )doug bates was in our class and he did a good job pitching ( he played basketball as well...great athlete and good guy )greg collins was our all SEC catcher in 73...one of the great athletes ever in the program...1st round draft choice i think...or very high...duncan.. shipley .. wessel were all first round draft choices i believe...remember mclean was one of the last full-time " 2 way " players...he was a great hitter and great pitcher and pitched professionally...class of 73...wessel set the NCAA record for SKs in one game...23....( out of 27 LOL ) as a freshman....he must have thrown 95--98 MPH on occasion...remember mike willis shut out the NY yankees in the late 1970s in yankee stadium ( maybe as a rookie...he pitched 5 yrs in the bigs ) rick duncan was one of the top 5 pure hitters in college baseball in 2 or 3 of his 4 yrs at vanderbilt....ted shipley was one of the top 10 all around college players in 1973 ( he then signed )..greg collins was one of the top 5 catchers in college baseball in 1973...tommy powell was a winner..period ..class of 73...WAY over-achieved...and jeff peeples belongs in the vanderbilt hall of fame...NOW.....mark bode

Anonymous said...

opps.....thanks STEVE !! sorry...mark bode