CD features best of Russ and Lon

Monday, Dec. 17

SAN FRANCISCO — If you love the Giants and appreciate their rich history, an ideal holiday gift awaits you.

A CD is available featuring taped highlights from the careers of Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons, the club’s popular broadcast team during its first 13 years in San Francisco (1958-70). It’s the 11th in a series of commemorative audio tributes produced, written and narrated by Chicago Cubs play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes, who also has captured the best of Red Barber, Marty Brennaman, Jack Buck, Harry Caray and Harry Kalas, among others.

Each of these projects is a labor of love for Hughes. But this one has special meaning, given Hughes’ background. He grew up in San Jose listening to Hodges and Simmons, who helped stoke his passion for the game and his career path.  “They influenced me greatly and favorably,” Hughes said. Hughes is among those — as am I — who adored Russ and Lon as much as Mays, McCovey and Marichal.

“Listening to the highlights brought back a flood of memories,” Hughes said.

The excerpts are often riveting. Of course, the CD features the spoken accounts by Hodges and Simmons of numerous memorable events, such as pivotal occurrences from the 1962 pennant-winning season and multiple Willie Mays heroics. We hear Hodges’ call of Bobby Thomson’s home run — not just “The Giants win the pennant!” segment, but also the moments before the homer, in which Hodges’ keen eye for detail is evident. We hear Simmons’ pregame show from May 11, 1972, when he spoke eloquently and emotionally about the trade that sent Mays to the New York Mets.

Hughes included unexpected treats. We learn what led Hodges and Simmons to the microphone, often in their own words. We hear an absolutely hilarious clip from a Roos-Atkins commercial that Hodges and Simmons attempted to deliver live until they dissolved in laughter. We hear Hodges calling boxing, of all things — drawing a prestigious assignment by being at ringside for the second Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston bout.

The CD can be ordered online at http://www.baseballvoices.com. Requesting the priority shipping option will assure that the CD will reach its destination by Dec. 24, if it’s intended as a Christmas present.

But, really, it’s an excellent item to give or acquire at any time.

Chris Haft

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