College Sports in the Realm of Bonesville
Saturday, March 12, 2005
Publisher & Editor
ECU announcer a
Avant-garde artist Andy Warhol (1928-87) once said that each of us is
destined for 15 minutes of fame. The edgy pop culture icon was alluding at
least in part to that inevitable confluence of events that casts the
sometimes friendly, sometimes harsh glare of the media on the unsuspecting.
Josh Spence’s unsolicited turn to bake in that hot spotlight came in a
Friday column by Bonesville.net’s Al
Myatt. In his regular View from the East column, Myatt made light of
the up-and-coming young broadcaster’s on-the-job learning experience as East
Carolina’s baseball play-by-play announcer.
A number of readers interpreted Myatt’s column just as it was intended – a
sharp but tongue-in-cheek critique of ECU bureaucrats for thrusting Spence
into such a high-pressure role without the benefit of having first served an
apprenticeship under a play-by-play veteran such as "Voice of the Pirates"
That take didn’t cut the mustard with other readers, whose complaints about
the article included characterizations ranging from “mean-spirited” to
“hatchet job” to “The editor should be fired.”
No thanks to yours truly, the editor, Myatt’s attempt to cast Spence’s
limited knowledge of baseball jargon in a humorous fashion came across to
some readers as bashing an emerging young talent.
Ultimately, it is my responsibility as editor to ensure that the intended
overall message of an article doesn’t get lost in translation. Based on
e-mail and telephone feedback, I fell short of fulfilling that part of my
job with some readers and for that, I apologize.
The references in Myatt’s column to the Comedy Channel and to Abbott &
Costello’s famed “Who’s on First” slapstick routine were intended to strike
the reader’s funny bone. But more importantly, the objective was to spur
serious analysis of the rushed manner in which ECU shoved Spence into the
pilot's seat of the radio booth of one of the nation's top baseball programs
with little advance in-flight training in the terminology of the sport.
If criticism was intended, it was meant to be productive and was aimed at
ECU, not Josh Spence.
After all, Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean, whose butchering of the King’s English
included such immortal accounts of the action as, “He slood into third
base,” is as much a legend for his colorful broadcasting career as for his
remarkable depression-era exploits as a pitcher for the celebrated Gashouse
In the final analysis, Spence’s over-the-airwaves depiction of a player
making a catch “in the backfield” brings the same kind of chuckles to
listeners that Dean's famous foibles generated long ago.
In many respects, young Spence is already light years ahead of the
standards set by Ol' Diz in relaying the account of a game. Spence's
language skills are unquestioned, which clearly wasn't the case with Dean,
whose backwoods Arkansas vernacular once so unsettled a teachers'
association that it lodged a protest claiming he was a bad influence on the
children of America.
Responded Dean: ""Let the teachers teach English and I will teach
baseball. There is a lot of people in the United States who say "isn't" and
they ain't eating."
In contrast, Spence, unburdened by Dean's struggles with the English
language, is learning the peculiar slang of baseball on the job.
Bottom line: Josh Spence, is one of the more talented young broadcasters
in college sports and his baseball vocabulary will eventually catch up to
his golden voice. The result is that his “15 minutes of fame” has the
potential to stretch into a lifetime of professional accomplishments.
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02/23/2007 01:37:45 AM