Thursday, August 7, 2008


I dedicated my previous blog to the Rock Cats press box. It was very late and I left out some very important people and things that you should know.

Let’s start with Dan Lovallo. Dan has become a well-known radio personality over the years, first in Torrington and later in the Hartford area on WDRC. Some of you may know him from his entertaining conservative talk show on WDRC-1360 from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

But in sports circles, Dan has been sitting in with Rock Cats voice Jeff Dooley for nine years. Dan’s one of the nicest, gentlest people I’ve ever known. He can be one of your best friends but don’t start the relationship with any liberal talking points or anti-Yankee chatter. The Pinstripers can do no wrong in Dan’s book, and they always lead the sports report on his talk show. And God help Nancy Pelosi if she ever comes to Hartford.

I won’t hold that any of that against him (particular his conservative bent). He’s a classy man.

Which leads us to Dooley, or Dools as his friends call him. Dools has been telling folks about the Rock Cats for 11 seasons now. He never misses a game. Nothing can keep one of Rhode Island’s finest from his perch in the press box, no matter where the Rock Cats roam.

As I type in the comfort of my own home This fine Thursday morning, Dools is bouncing around in the Rock Cats bus, off on a 12-day road trip that will take him to Bowie, Md.; Erie, Pa; and Akron, Ohio. That means time away from his wonderful wife Marne and the cutest and smartest little guy I know, apple of his grandpa's eye, Master Joe Dooley.

What a sight it is to see Little Joe sitting on a high stool in the press box, listening intently to Dad doing his postgame wrap. Dools says Joe complains to Mom in the car when she listens to music. “Put Dad on!” are his implicit instructions.

If Joe should decide to become a sportscaster, that would make three in the family. Marne’s brother is Don Orsillo, a man who has the ear of Red Sox Nation on television along with Jerry Remy. Now there’s a sports family! Poor Marne.

There are others in the press box who make going there seem like anything but work. Luke Pawlak deftly handles the technical operation of the incredible video board that captures everybody’s attention with a plethora of movie clips and contemporary stuff like Simpsons and Sponge Bob Square Pants. I can’t convince him to run any shots of Bogart, Cagney or Greta Garbo. I also can't convince him that baseball is so much better than soccer. Beckham could never hit the curveball, Luke.

Then there’s Manny, the video recording guru. That’s not his real name. The guy just resembles Manny Ramirez so closely – dreadlocks, dark complexion, round face, omnipresent smile – that everybody just calls him Manny. I haven’t met anybody yet who knows his real name. The big difference between Ramirez and our Manny is that the Rock Cats would never trade him to L.A.

If there is a better PA announcer than Don Steele of WCCC FM fame, please introduce him (or her) to me. Don’s familiar voice fills the air, just drawing in everybody within earshot because of his vast expertise in his field. He handles the 3-inch think script that gets plopped on his table every night. How he squeezes in all that stuff, I’ll never know, but trust me, he squeezes it in. I know better than anybody because he is right behind me.

Mike Torres has been a press-box staple for more than a decade, handling sound effects. You know, when a batter walks and you hear the country song, “Big Wheels Rollin.” Or when he wants to get the crowd going, it’s that old Cab Calloway gem, “Heidi Heidi Ho.” I’m still trying to steal his music and replace it with Grateful Dead but there’s always somebody watching.

So there you have it, the reasons why I love going to Rock Cats games, except for when somebody starts a rally at deadline time or the crack waitress staff totes up dinner with cheese on it. Darryl, Jamie – hold the cheese, if you please.

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