Over the next few weeks, we'll be hearing from VPR staffers about the public radio stories that have mattered to them. Today, Brendan Kinney, vice president for development and marketing, explains why this recent commentary about why Pete Rose should enter the Hall Of Fame with Ichiro Suzuki by Frank Deford stopped him in his tracks.
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Whenever I hear Frank Deford's voice coming out of my radio, I drop whatever I'm doing and take in the moment. I also try to visualize the man behind the microphone. Thanks to the Internet, I've seen pictures of Frank Deford, but that voice belongs to another era, one where managers chomped on cigars in dugouts and where seeing a player dance the cha-cha in the end zone would have resulted in a chomping from the coach for poor taste and lack of sportsmanship.
In this piece, Frank makes the case for a pair of seeming opposites to be recognized by baseball's hall of fame. As for his opinion that Rose should be inducted into baseball's HOF, Deford ruffled some feathers (as he often does). However, the comments on the web that accompany his piece are remarkable for their civility and calm demeanor. An earnest debate is being had, but it stands out for its lack of vitriol, shouting, and posturing that we've come to expect when it comes to matters of life, death, and sports in the media.
Beyond the subject matter of this piece, Deford's tone and style are a delight to hear. Phrases like, "Don't you think that sometimes, even in baseball, with all its sacred statistics, you can round numbers off and call it equal, plus or minus a margin of admiration?" or "I always visualized Ichiro Suzuki that way, slipping from Japanese baseball to our major leagues so effortlessly, barely stirring the air." flow effortlessly, but you can tell that these phrases have been constructed with care.
For me, this was a "story that mattered" and just one example of how the programming that we take for granted enriches our lives even if it's just for a moment.