John Tripp Was One-Of-A-Kind
Being in radio for as long as I have, I have done just about everything there is to do in this crazy business. I often get asked what was the most fun I have ever had in radio? Well that is an easy question to answer. It was broadcasting Little League Baseball at the YMCA in Quincy.
Back in my WTAD Radio days John Tripp and I would broadcast a “Little League Game of The Week”. Every week during the summer we would head out to the Y and set up equipment to bring the play-by-play of a Little League game. We would broadcast it as if it was a Major League game and sell copies of the game as a fund raiser for the Little League program at the YMCA.
I remember vividly that very first broadcast. Our table was set up for us right behind home plate (some 10 feet from home plate). With it being the first game broadcast ever, John and I had no idea we would soon be putting these kids in danger. Here is a sample of our play by play of the first batter ever.
Me: “Little Johnny Smith stands deep in the box awaiting the first pitch.”
John: “He’s choking up on the bat trying to get on base”.
Just then the pitcher throws the ball, but little Johnny Smith, having just heard me mention his name on the radio, has turned his head and instead of watching the ball he’s looking at us in amazement. We both knew right away that our MLB type broadcast would have to be adjusted to a whispered golf-like coverage for the rest of the game or several kids just might get killed out there. The following week we moved to the top of the hill to do our broadcasts and remained there each week thereafter.
John would come to the game in a suit and tie from his Blessing Hospital workplace to join me for the broadcasts. With each broadcast I would mention that perhaps this will be the game that we will get a foul ball. Weeks went by and nothing even came close to us. Then it finally happened. A foul ball was headed right for us and it landed two feet from John who never made a move to catch it. I couldn’t resist asking the following:
Me: “Gee John for two years we have been waiting for a foul ball to come our way and today one lands two feet from you and you made no effort to catch it.”
John: “What did you want me to do dive for it?”
John: “But I’m wearing a $500 suit and tie”.
Me: “Who wears a $500 suit to a Little League baseball game?”
John: “I do”.
That kind of banter was how it went each and every week during the Little League broadcast. We both had a great deal of fun then. That all ended on a Saturday in May. It was May 16, 2009, 12 years ago yesterday, when I lost my best friend and a friend to hundreds of others with the passing of John Tripp thanks to a massive heart attack. He was only 58 years of age. My God, where has the time gone?
It was John who renamed me “The Big Dog” and it has stuck ever since. He also is responsible for nick-naming Culver-Stockton College as the “Harvard on the Hill”.
I could write a thousand stories about John and so could thousands of others who knew him. So time continues on without him, but the memories he made for people remain strong. Thank God we all still have them.
My thoughts go out to his family as yesterday had to be a very difficult day for all of them. I know it was for me!
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