Tales From the Road 2010: Indianapolis in May

INDIANAPOLIS, IN-A trip to Victory Field in Indianapolis is one of the real treats in the International League for a broadcaster.  The stadium may be the single best in all of minor league baseball, and you get a chance to meet one of the true greats of baseball broadcasting, Howard Kellman.

Notice I said “of baseball broadcasting” and not “of minor league baseball.”  In our profession–baseball announcing–the best not always make it to the major leagues.  Many times, you have to know someone to get there…or, in many cases, be related to someone.  Now that is not a knock on any of the major league broadcasters, that it pure fact.  There are tons, literally tons of minor league broadcasters who can do the job on the major league level but never get the chance.

Howard began broadcasting Indians games back in 1974.  1974!  That year the Oakland A’s won their third straight World Championship with Reggie Jackson in right field.  Also that year, Tony Schiavone was a sophomore in high school. 

Howard ranks right up there with the true greats in the game, not only because of his ability behind the mic, but also because of his love of the game.  He has written a book entitled:  61 Humorous & Inspiring Lessons I Learned From Baseball.  It is a wonderful book.  Many of the stories from Howard’s journey in baseball made me laugh out loud.  But what drew me to the book was Howard’s love of the game that is evident with every page.  Howard was a Yankees fan growing up and the great homer chase of 1961 between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle had a profound impact on his life and career.  Thus Howard comes up with 61 tales of his experience in this grand game.  61 in honor the year and of the number eventually hit by Maris.

Whenever I arrive in Indianapolis, I am always warmly welcomed by Howard.  And I always leave thinking I have not spent enough time hearing his stories or getting to know him more.

To be a minor league baseball announcer for as long as Howard Kellman, you have to love the game.  And he does.  That is why he still does it.  And does it better than most.  The book is available on Amazon and has a foreword from the late baseball broadcasting legend Ernie Harwell. 

I’ve always loved Harwell.  And the fact that Judd and I do the games now of a team that was first the Atlanta Crackers, gives us a special connection to Harwell.  Since he was the first play by play broadcaster of the team back in the 40’s on WSB Radio. 

However, I have to wonder if Harwell would have stayed with the game as long as he did if his journey would have kept him in the minors?

Howard Kellman is a true baseball legend.  And there are so few left.

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