Thanks so much to Kevin Capie of the Peoria Journal Star for taking time to remember the kid who once hoped (and, well, still does!) to someday embody the old Vaudeville line: If it can play in Peoria, it can play anywhere. Kevin was kind enough to recently catch up to me and publish excerpts from our conversation in the Monday, March 26 edition of the Journal-Star.
It’s wonderful not to be forgotten. But what’s far more enjoyable is reliving memories of the many great people I met during my first experience as a full-time play-by-play broadcaster for baseball’s Peoria Chiefs of the mid-199os. A handful are mentioned in Kevin’s piece. Unfortunately, too many are not, including Scott Krusinski, the general manager who hired me in the winter of 1993; Grandma, the devoted Chiefs fan who often dropped off batches of cookies in the booth; Peter and Marian Korn, the native New Yorkers who showed me the real Heart of Illinois; and Reid and Kathy Ottesen, who demonstrated true Midwestern Hospitality.
I witnessed a lot in those three seasons, from Alex Rodriguez as an Appleton Fox to striking major leaguer Jim Thome striking batting practice balls into neighboring area codes. And I was lucky enough to share time on the air with legends like Jack Brickhouse, Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall (yes, that Jimmy Piersall). Mostly, though, I was blessed with an opportunity to grow in ways I’m only now beginning to realize.