The Phillies & The Baron
OFF TOPIC ALERT!
I’ve been a Philadelphia Phillies fan since childhood. My boyhood heroes were Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn.
My dad took me to several games at the old Connie Mack Stadium in North Philly. I don’t remember much about the experience except for the long crowded subway ride up Broad Street and the overwhelming greenness of the playing field. I would stare in awe at the field as we walked into the grandstand.
In the early 1970’s I was working at the Harrisburg ABC Television affiliate as a news reporter when the opportunity presented itself to move over to the Sports Director chair. I made the switch and enjoyed a multiple year run doing two sportscasts a night.
One of the tips my predecessor passed along was that Phillies PR Director, Larry Shenk was a good guy always willing to come up with information, quotes and (most importantly) game tickets & press passes. Being a fan, I made sure that the Phillies were prominently featured near the top of the sportscast and occasionally availed myself of those tickets.
Shenk indeed was good to deal with and helpful when I was looking for a story idea. However, he could do nothing to help my ignorance of some of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ happenings with the Phillies.
This was especially true when I learned that Hall Of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton would be coming to Harrisburg as part of the annual Phillies Winter Caravan. I called Larry and begged him to bring Carlton to the studio for a live interview during my show. Larry, to his credit, simply said he would see what he could do.
I took this to mean the interview would happen. Imagine my disappointment when Carlton never walked through the studio door. It was only years later that I would learn of Carlton’s ongoing boycott of the press and his blanket refusal to do interviews! No wonder I never saw Lefty!
Fast forward some 30 years and my wife and I are attending Sunday afternoon games at Veterans Stadium. We were pleased to be part of the crowd that bid farewell to the Vet in an on-field ceremony that was masterminded by the same Larry Shenk.
As I write this, the Phils are playing in the waning days of the 2007 season. It is an open question whether they will finally make it to the post-season.
However, what is not in question is the fact that this will be Larry’s final season as the Vice President of Public Relations for the Phillies. Retirement, or semi-retirement, is calling. Sure would be great to send “The Baron” off with baseball in October. Maybe I could score some World Series tickets!