If you weren’t aware, SB Nation has been running theme weeks and this weeks theme is “Moments that made you cry”. It is a bit open ended, but an interesting topic nonetheless.
If I am being honest, there has not been a sporting event that has made me cry. That beins said, there has been an event at a baseball game that has made me cry. It was Don Orsillo’s final game as an announcer for the Boston Red Sox.
A brief history
Don Orsillo began his broadcasting career as he interned with Ken Coleman, his broadcast hero, if you will, while he was still at Northeastern. After graduating with a degree in Communication Studies, he began doing play-by-play for the Pittsfield Mets in the New York Penn League. He began to move up the levels and did play-by-play for the Pawtucket Red Sox from 1996 to 2000. In 2001, Orsillo was called up to the big leagues and became the play-by-play guy for the Boston Red Sox, with his first game was actually Hideo Nomo’s no-hitter against the Orioles. He would also call three more no hitters in his Red Sox career, Derek Lowe, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester.
Don Orsillo, and his partner in crime Jerry Remy, were there every single day, even through the rough 2014 and 2015 seasons. I, maybe because I’m a bit crazy about this team, would turn on my MLB.TV app every night during those years to watch the game but to also watch Orsillo. What made the duo so great was it was like hanging out with your friends watching a baseball game with a couple of beers.
Then there was the time when Jerry Remy bought Don Orsillo a gift...(That laugh gets me every single time)
Then when Jerry Remy lost a tooth during a game...Orsillo’s jumps in with a perfect Dad Joke (“You’ll have those summer teeth. Some are there. Some a’int.”) while continuing to call the game.
Then, of course, how can you forget The Pizza Incident? Don smoothly calls the fan who was hit by the flying pizza slice the Pepsi Fan of the Game then he is dying laughing when they return from commercial break.
The last game Don Orsillo would announce for the Boston Red Sox was October 4, 2015. Everyone knew this day was coming as it was announced earlier in the year that his contract was not renewed. The broadcast began with some of Orsillo’s greatest moments and a heartfelt speech from the man himself.
The game didn’t mean much as the team was in last place for the second season in a row and they ended up losing 3-1 to the Indians. At the time, I thought “Okay. So that is how it ends.” But I was wrong. In an amazing display of gratitude to a great announcer and all-around great guy, the team came out of the dugout to salute him.
This is the only time I have cried during a sporting event. At the time, we all knew it was “The End”. The Padres were wise enough to sign him to replace their longtime announcer Dick Enberg, so we could still catch him calling games but it would never be the same. Losing Don Orsillo was like seeing your best friend move to another school. Yes, you could call them whenever but knowing that you will not see them every single day made it so sad.
After moving to southern California, Orsillo is the same: A funny and entertaining broadcaster but still calls a good game. He and his partner in crime, Mark Grant, were named the best local broadcast team in the country in 2019. I cannot say they are wrong. I catch many a Padres game just so I can enjoy them together but it still stings that it’s not happening in Boston.