The infantile and ignoble joy

I grew up listening to Bob Uecker call Milwaukee Brewers games. My father had a little radio and he’d sit, watching the game on TV with the sound off, with the radio blaring out Uecker bopping around happily in the booth if the team was doing well, or castigating them in his perfect deadpan if they weren’t. Usually they weren’t. Cubs fans like to whine and bitch, but at least they got close two years ago. The Brewers have sucked in remarkably consistent fashion for 20 solid years, but my father still sits, with his ancient radio, listening, believing every game that this is where they’ll start to turn it around. My brother and I would play in the backyard, and the sound would carry out the open back door, the sound of summer on the way.

I thought of that today reading this. We do a lot of politics here, we do a lot of happy Democrat pictures, we highlight a lot of voices. But the voices of our lives aren’t just politicians. They’re the call in the gathering dusk of early July, as a player swings at a high hard one he shouldn’t even come close to and for some reason connects, and the crack, and the sound of the crowd as the ball flies past them, out and over the wall, and boy, Billy, that one ought to have a stewardess on it.

A couple of years ago I was driving home from work and discovered that if I didn’t mind some static, I could still tune in to 620 AM and get the Milwaukee games, the voices faint and tinny but there. They were always losing, and I didn’t recognize any of the players anymore. But I recognized the voice calling their names, and joking about ways to kill himself when the pitcher blew another save, and in the golden late afternoon light I rolled down the window and leaned my arm out to feel the air, and the day felt like spring, and the unfamiliar street I was driving down felt like home to me.