When the atmosphere was right, 850 WHDH from Boston came in clear and true, “The Voice of Sports.” The Bruins, the Celtics, the Red Sox. Most nights in the summertime you could get a ballgame or two from somewhere. Local teams who played at townsite wore Boston colours. It was always something to look forward to, listening to a ballgame at the end of the day, before eventually being yelled off to bed. Sometimes you got a signal from as far away as Cincinnati late on a clear hot summer night. That was another world altogether, Cincinnati. It didn’t even seem real. Boston was palpable, and attested to, even if you’d never been you knew it wasn’t that far. People you knew had roots or relatives in Boston; Mary’s father had been there a thousand times. They said it was where the best went, because there was more money there. Boston was a lifetime away from the valley, but Cincinnati? Joe around the corner said he’d been there but he was full of shit about everything. The place might as well have been myth, except for the Reds played there and had some good young players and were in the newspapers. The Queen City. The Queen had a lot of things named after her. The ballfield was named after a jubilee of hers, whatever that was. Nobody ever called it what it was, whatever it was. What is it? It’s A Jubilee. What’s that? A jubilee. Might have missed that day in school.
It was always something to look forward to, and in the summer the signal came in clear and true and would for a week or sometimes weeks, lulling you into a false sense of security, letting you think it was there for good now. Then one night you’d go to the radio in the kitchen and try to tune in a ballgame after a shit day and there would be nothing. Too much weather in the way, too much electricity in the air, the ocean. Just cracks and buzzes that almost, hopefully, might have sounded like Curt Gowdy or later Ken Coleman’s voice coming in, picking up in the bottom of the second, finally, there for a moment, and you’d wait it out, fiddle with the dial some more, try to do something else, find nothing to do, wait, until in the end, you resigned yourself to a signal-less night. And you’d give up. Give it up with the radio and go to bed. Boston wasn’t out there tonight. You went off to bed, unsated, but The Voice of Sports would be back, and Boston would be back. They had started to call this year’s team “The Impossible Dream.” There were rumours Montréal was to get a team. People were already talking about who they might cheer for, and division of loyalties.


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