Dad, the Giants and the blues

My dad, Doug Cheseborough (1921-1997), was a Giants fan. He grew up in New York City and used to go see the Giants play when they were still based in that city. I don’t think he ever forgave them for moving to San Francisco, but he remained a fan.
When I was a kid, Dad would listen to Giants games on a tube radio. He penciled in marks to find the stations that broadcast the games in the various National League cities. Hard to believe he could pick up AM radio broadcasts, from our home in Rochester, coming from Cincinnati, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, etc., but he did. Of course those faraway stations didn’t come in real clearly. There was a lot of crackling and static, and the announcer’s voice would go in and out. To a casual listener, like any of us family members who happened by, it sounded like a bunch of noise.
But to dad it was a baseball game. He listened carefully and followed the whole game, play by play, reconstructing it in his head from those fuzzy bits of sonic information. And he’d be happy — or, more often, upset, since the Giants usually weren’t faring well in those years — for days, at least until the next game, based on the results!
I never learned to appreciate baseball, not by crackly radio broadcast or by high-def color TV or by live game. But one of my main obsessions in life is the blues of the 1920s-30s, which I study by listening to crackly old 78 records. (I don’t collect the original records, but even when you listen to CDs or online versions of those songs, they are just transferred from the original 78s, scratches and all.) The recordings might not be that clear to begin with, plus there are all those scratches, and the performers sing in archaic regional dialects and use strange expressions and play in odd tunings. When I dig in and listen hard, spending hours trying to figure out what the heck they are doing so I can re-create it with my voice and guitar, I think I’m continuing a tradition I learned by seeing my dad concentrating on those radio broadcasts.

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2 Comments on "Dad, the Giants and the blues"

  1. Rob Shoemaker
    05/05/2015 at 6:15 pm Permalink

    One day in the 1980s when my parents went to a Chicago Cubs game, Ronald Reagan, who prior to his movie career was a radio baseball broadcaster, called a few innings using the old-fashioned sound effects that were used to fake the sounds of a live ball game when the team was away on the road. My Mom had polio and was wheelchair bound. The Wrigley Field handicapped seating is right next to the press box above and behind home plate. President Reagan came out when he was done and greeted all the people sitting there, then sat with my folks and chatted thru most of the rest of the game. Thankfully nobody brought up politics, it would have turned ugly fast. I need to get your address. I want to give you a copy of the bootleg Mel Solomon CD that will never be released.

  2. chezztone
    03/10/2015 at 8:53 pm Permalink

    Oh, hi, Rob! Thanks for the story and thanks for the Mel Solomon CD! Guess I should check the comments on my own website more often. It’s only been five months since you wrote and I’m just seeing it…

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