On Monday, October 9, 1989, I was nine years old and going to school like every other kid who rooted for the San Francisco Giants in the Bay Area.
Around 2:30 that day, my fourth-grade teacher let me go into Mr. Walsh’s room and listen to the end of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series. The San Francisco Giants were down a run to the Chicago Cubs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Will Clark came into the game hitting .625/.667/1.188 for an OPS of 1.854 through the first four games of the series.
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He led off the seventh with a triple and scored on Kevin Mitchell‘s sacrifice fly to tie the game.
In the following inning, after two quick outs, Candy Maldonado came in as a pinch hitter for starter Rick Reuschel and drew a walk. Brett Butler and Robby Thompson also drew walks and the Cubs starter Mike Bielecki was pulled.
Hank Greenwald, who died Monday from health complications at the age of 83, was the play-by-play announcer for the Giants that day.
He was laying out the scene for us on the radio as my ears were glued to his every word.
I can still remember every syllable to this day.
"“Maldonado with a lead from third, Butler off second, Thompson from first and the pitch, and Clark hits it up the middle into center field, base hit! Maldonado scores. Here comes Butler! Thompson on his way to third and the Giants lead 3-1.And Superman has done it again.” an elated Greenwald shared with everyone listening that day in and around San Francisco."
I had listened to games before that day. I knew who Greenwald was. I was only nine, but his voice left an indelible memory in my mind that I hope to never lose.
As the final out was recorded, the sheer jubilation in Greenwald’s voice felt like a weight had been lifted off of every Giants fan in the world.
"“It’s over! Twenty-seven years of waiting have come to an end! The Giants have won the pennant!"
It was as if Greenwald had waited his entire career to say those words that Russ Hodges made so infamous in 1951 when Bobby Thompson hit the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” and declared “The Giants won the pennant! The Giants won the pennant! The Giants won the pennant!”
I was devastated when he stopped announcing games for the Giants in 1996, as he was the man who helped me fall in love with the Giants, with baseball and with listening to games on the radio.
While I love the group of broadcasters the Giants have now, hearing from Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper as well as Jon Miller and Dave Flemming, there is nothing like the voice of the broadcaster that started your love affair with the game.
Greenwald was more than a Giants broadcaster. He was the voice of my youth and he will be terribly missed now that he is gone.