Friday, July 3, 2015

An Open Letter to the Atlanta Braves Radio Announcers

Dear Jim and Don,

I like you guys, which is a good thing, since I have been spending a lot of time with you lately.

That’s because in recent weeks, while our new house is being built on the Ruffin Family Farm a mile outside of Yatesville, Georgia, I’ve been living with my Uncle Johnny, and he doesn’t have cable or satellite television. So I’ve been listening to the Braves games on the radio.

I appreciate the work you and the crew do in bringing the games to us.

Still, I’d like to be so bold as to make a few suggestions.

1. Describe the game.

Tell us what is happening on the field. Give us details—tell us what the pitcher’s windup is like; describe the batter’s stance. But remember that your listeners are not watching the game so we do not see what you see. Tell us all about it.

2. Paint a picture.

I was eight years old and living in Barnesville, Georgia when the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta. We went to a couple of games every year but I watched most of them by listening to Milo Hamilton and Ernie Johnson on WKEU FM out of Griffin. I put it that way because they painted such a vivid picture that I could see the game in my mind. Your words could paint beautiful portraits, but instead you give us line drawings. Your descriptions should enable us to see the players in 3D, but instead we see stick figures. Communicate the atmosphere to us. Help us taste the beer and smell the hot dogs.

3. Give the score often.

Some people get to listen to the entire broadcast but many of us don’t. We turn it on in the middle of the game because we had things to do or because we just got in the car. I have gotten in my car and driven for ten minutes before ever hearing the score. Brothers, this ought not to be. Remember (again) that your listeners are not watching the game on television and so the score is not always in front of us. Giving the score at the end of each half-inning is not enough. I recommend that you make it a practice to give us the score at least once every 60-90 seconds. It should definitely be given after each at-bat. You guys are talented; you can figure out a way to make it blend in.

4. Stop telling long stories.

They distract from the game and we listen to hear the game. Now, they’re fine during a rain delay or during a pregame segment. All too often, Don will be telling a story and Jim has to interrupt him to say what is happening on the field. The game is the thing. Just describe the game.

5. Goof around less.

You guys are clever, intelligent, articulate, and funny. I’m sure I would greatly enjoy having dinner with you. But between the first pitch of the game and the last pitch of the game, none of that matters unless you put your cleverness, intelligence, articulation, and funniness to use describing the game and painting the picture. You are impressive but we do not want to be impressed by anything but your descriptions and accounts of the game.

6. Leave non-baseball stuff out of it.

If you want to talk about the best restaurants in Doraville, maybe the Food Network will give you a show. But such talk adds nothing to our understanding and enjoyment of the baseball game.

7. Describe the game.


Pardon me for shouting. But that’s the point I really want to drive home. Tell us what’s happening. Tell us what it looks like. Help us smell the smells, taste the tastes, feel the elation, and experience the frustration. Help us feel like we are there.

Thank you for listening to me. I’ll keep on listening to you whether or not you take my suggestions—my pleas, really—to heart.

You work in the Pete van Wieren Radio Booth. Make him proud . . .

And Go Braves!

Your Faithful Listener,

Mike Ruffin
Yatesville, Georgia