On the eve of Game 3, Pat Hughes did a little dreaming.
“Nobody has ever heard anyone say: ‘The Cubs are the world champions’ because radio had just been invented in 1908,” he said. “Games on the radio did not come along until the 1920s. And if there is a recording from 1945, when the Cubs last won the pennant, I’m not aware of it.”
Hughes, who has put in 20 years and called more than 1,700 defeats, deserves the chance to deliver the historic call. If only the Cubs would cooperate.
But as Hughes mentioned in the seventh inning Tuesday night, they have not led for a moment in the series. The Game 3 dagger came on a 3-2 pitch from closer Jeurys Familia.
“And the payoff pitch … strike three called,” Hughes said. “The ballgame is over and the New York Mets take a three-games-to-none lead in the National League Championship Series.”
Hughes’ broadcast far exceeded the quality of the home team. Working on WBBM-AM 780 with analyst Ron Coomer, Hughes painted a picture the way Jacob deGrom painted the bottom edge of the strike zone.
I always get a kick out of Hughes’ description of what everyone is wearing — including home-plate umpire Ted Barrett and his “black hat, black shoes.”
“There’s something about baseball on the radio that is still a marriage made in heaven,” Hughes told me Monday. “You would think in this age of video, baseball on radio would go by the wayside, but that’s not the case. As testimony, look at broadcast fees, sponsorship and salaries … though not necessarily mine.”
Hughes is not one to complain, but his pipes were rusty Monday, the result of insisting on an open-air booth in the Sunday night chill at Citi Field in New York — and not getting home to bed until 5 a.m.
Early Tuesday evening Hughes said, “Boy, it is nice to be back home, isn’t it?”
Analysts love working with Hughes because he sets them up like a veteran point guard.
After Dexter Fowler took a low called-third strike in the first, Hughes said: “Take a look, Ron.”
Coomer responded: “I agree with Dexter. (He’s) 6-foot-5 and this pitch is below the knees. DeGrom got a break.”
Both came to life when Kyle Schwarber lined one into the bleachers in the first.
Hughes’ call: “He hits a drive to left-center field … It’s got a chance … GONE!”
Coomer: “Can you say ‘Welcome back to Wrigley’!?”
Coomer was not the only other contributor to Tuesday’s broadcast. Television play-by-play man Len Kasper subbed for Hughes in the fifth inning.
Kasper told a story about deGrom having broken a finger on his left hand while helping a neighbor in Florida castrate a calf in 2013.
Hughes couldn’t resist a friendly jab, saying: “More of a television story than a radio story, Len.”
Kasper: “We’re trying to paint a picture here, Pat. I apologize for that … no more conversations about livestock the rest of the night, I promise.”
It turned out to be a pleasant diversion on a night in which the Cubs could relate to that calf.
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