What better place to grow up for young baseball fans in the 1960s and 70s than the Midwest.
St. Louis, Cincinnati and Detroit as well as Pittsburgh all won World Series titles in a 13 year span (1964-1976) with Minnesota capturing an American League pennant.
Televised games are great, but they pale in comparison to summer nights with your dad listening on the family radio as your home team announcers paint a picture of your diamond heroes achievements.
Two such boys – Russ Huesman, a Big Red Machine Fan, and Kirby Cannon, an avid follower of the St. Louis Cardinals, - are now men and faced each other tonight in a college football game at Finley Stadium as Huesman’s team (UTC) defeated Cannon’s squad (Austin Peay), 42-10.
On a clear night and the wind blowing just right, it was baseball heaven as legendary announcers in their prime were Rembrandt and Picasso behind the microphone to Huesman in Cincinnati and Cannon in Alexandria, Mo., painting a verbal portrait for the team’s long distant faithful who might never see a home game, but fans nonetheless.
KMOX in St. Louis gave you Harry Caray and Jack Buck broadcasting from old Sportsman’s Park and later Busch Stadium, while Joe “Nuxie” Nuxhall and Marty Brenneman broadcast Redlegs games over WLW from Crosley Field and then Riverfront Stadium. In Detroit, the great Ernie Harwell called the games from Tiger Stadium over WJR.
In Pittsburgh it was Bob Prince on KDKA from Forbes Field, the Chicago White Sox had Bob Elson and Don Wells (followed by ralph Kiner, then Milo Hamilton) on WCFL when the Go-Go Sox won the A.L. Pennant in 1959, while on the North Side Jack Brickhouse brought you the action of the Chicago Cubs from the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.
A quick comparison of the two coaches
Both born in the Midwest in Jan. (just before pitchers and catchers report for spring training) … Cannon in 1958 and Huesman two years later.
Both played football and baseball in college – Huesman, a centerfielder and defensive back, at UTC (1978-81) and Cannon, a pitcher and quarterback, at Missouri State (1977-80) ….
College Titles: Huesman helped the Mocs win Southern conference football titles in 1978-79 … Cannon pitched in the NCAA D-II World Series in the spring of ’78 and was a member of the football team that fall who won the MIAA.
Cannon ranks third in career wins (27-5) in 1978 and is in the Missouri State (formerly Southwest Missouri) Sports Hall of Fame.
Cards and the Reds … both coaches feel their diamond heroes are the best .
Huesman’s lineup of the mid-1970s shows hall of famers in Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez, plus Pete Rose, Ken Griffey and Davey Concepcion
Cannon’s Cards won W.S. titles in 1964, ’67 and runner-up in ’68 led hall of famers Bob Gibson and Lou Brock, plus Curt Flood, Bill White, Ken Boyer, Dick Groat and Tim McCarver.
Fast forward to 2013 and these two coaches still have a keen interest in the N.L. pennant race as the Cards, Reds and Pirates are all in the hunt for the N.L.Central division crown.
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