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There's no place like the Press Box

POSTED October 17, 2010
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson


            WATERBURY – Friday night in the press box. You’ve got to love it, if there is a press box and there is no guarantee of that. Watertown has an overhang, a nice new turf field but an overhang. You can fit a timer, announcer and three big apple pies there. The last time I was at St. Paul’s they had a tent. I kid you not. I don’t if that has changed; I will have to ask colleague Pat Tiscia who braved the elements to cover the St. Paul-Sacred Heart game Friday night.

            I was at Ray Snyder Sr. Field at Municipal Stadium to watch Torrington and Kennedy bang one another around. It was also a rare night when Tim Gaffney and I were on the same beat making sure the Register Citizen (Tim) and the Republican American (me) along with our website gave you the what’s happening with your teams.

            Life in the booth is always interesting but before the booth for me came the road. I came in off of Route 8 and when I got near Kaynor Tech the damn road was gone. I pulled around the corner ready to roll up Thomaston Avenue where Muncipal is located and lo and behold the road was gone. Just a fence and a lot of grass like a Kansas prairie.

            Kaynor recently completed a multi-year renovation project and part of the deal was that the road had to go. Who knew? I managed to regroup and find my way to the stadium to find Mr. Gaffney already there and ready to roll.

 Tim is pretty high tech for me – he brought his laptop with him. I don’t have a laptop, I have the top of my lap on which I put things. Other than that I have two notebooks and two pens.

It was one of those raw, nippy nights that seem to keep the bones on permanent chill. A spitting rain, cold metal bleachers, even the lights seemed dimmer than usual. It wasn’t a night that brought out the crowd. The final count could have been done with a Sesame Street background.

However, the `press box’ at Snyder Field is decent. It takes the cold edge off. There is heat and room, even spots for the press. A little explanation here. In many of the press boxes, there is room for assistant coaches, spotters, announcers, timekeepers, band directors, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and friends of all the above. Not always us.

This was a Kennedy home game so the Eagles’ leadership council was in the booth led by Athletic Director Dave Rossi. Rossi is one of the nice guys around. Not exactly great for my waistline but nice guy. He produced a cup of hot chocolate and French fries, which he put down and said, “I’m not going to eat these, go ahead.”

Geez Dave why don’t you just put a beer in front of an alcoholic, a waitress in front of Tiger, a microphone in front of Bob Sagendorf. I polished off the fires. It took me 20 minutes because I’m convinced it you eat one like every two minutes it isn’t as many calories if you eat them all at once. How’s that for rationalization.

Tim and I found some nice rolling cushioned chairs and were ready to roll. One thing to note is that the press box at Muncipal is low to the field. Anybody taller than Danny DeVito or Tom Thumb and standing in the top row of the bleachers blocks out your view.

On a night when the umbrellas were up, you might want to tune the game in on the radio. The few people in front of us were cooperative and eventually we got to see the field, always a bonus.

A word about the music here, too. The press box has a good sound system and Rossi, bless his soul, had fine collection of Beatles’ music. Nothing of the trash can variety. This was music of inspiration not perspiration. Okay, I’m dating myself here, but at least it was singable. Even after the game, Torrington’s Dean Tsopanides was shakin’ and bakin’ to the Beatles.

Gaffney disappeared early in the game to go down to the field and take some photos. He’s got this camera with a lens that is pretty big. He doesn’t claim to be a professional and the Republican-American’s Jim Shannon agreed with him.

Actually, Tim is pretty good and works hard at it. You see a lot of his work here on the web site and rumor has it he has four Bah Mitzvahs, a dance recital and three Halloween parties lined up.

Tim came back to the booth looking a little like Nanook of the North and quickly warmed up. The game was an interesting one and moved pretty quickly. Life was pretty quiet in the booth except for the usual banter.

Republican American colleague Mike Barger was on hand to hand out T-Shirts for the paper’s popular Red Zone Show. Mike popped into the booth to say hi and ask if we could call some fans since there were more shirts than fans. Just one of those nights.  

Late in the game we played a little word game when the P.A. announcer mentioned, “How many times can I say the Kennedy runner is tackled by a host of Torrington players.”  I came up with multitude and plethora. I think Tim donated bastion. There was a ton of vocabulary flying around. We are educated.

The press box is normally a safe place, but occasionally there are the risks of the job. All of the sudden in the fourth quarter we heard a crash and one of the gentlemen sitting next to us had been waylaid by a collapsed chair.

He quickly dismissed offers of aid and like a trooper rolled off the floor and watched the rest of the game standing. Hey, you never know. Tim and I made a quick check of the screws in our chair.

And that was it. Tim and I meandered the down the field at game’s end. Most of the crowd of 40 or so had dwindled to about four. We remarked how cold it had gotten. We longed for the press box. In general it is pretty good place to be. And so it was Friday night.

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