Randy Smith: Larry Ward's Big Day
Monday, August 8, 2022 - by Randy Smith
Voice of the Lookouts Larry Ward and I share at least one similarity...we have both been radio voices of Chattanooga's minor league baseball team. My lone season was in 1976 when the team returned to town after an absence of several years. Larry on the other hand has been doing that job well for 34 years and this past weekend was enshrined in the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
Larry and I have been friends for a very long time...I'm not sure how many years but I first met him in the early 1980s when he first came to town.
(He did go to Charleston, South Carolina for a few years as the "Voice of the Citadel Bulldogs" before he came back to town.) He made Chattanooga his home and has lived here ever since. In addition to his work in baseball, Larry has also spent 25 years as the Voice of the Lady Mocs Basketball team, and I like his work in basketball even more than I like his baseball announcing. Regardless, we in Chattanooga have been very fortunate to have him for that many years.
In 1990, right after Larry returned to town, I started a nighttime sports talk show on WDOD. I told him what I was doing and he agreed to join me on the show. We were on each night from 6:00 until 8:00 and we had an absolute blast. The show didn't last long because we each picked up some other opportunities but we sure had fun. There was one night when my producer and board operator brought his infant child to the station with him, and I didn't mind at all. About halfway through the show, he set the baby on a turntable in the studio where he was working, to change his diaper. (I'm going to try to tell this story without grossing anyone out but try to picture what I'm saying.) When he got the diaper off there was such a huge mess and as the baby squirmed it got all over the turntable and suddenly became an even bigger mess because he obviously wasn't finished yet.
As Larry and I realized what was going on, we laughed....and we laughed....and we laughed some more. There were tears streaming down our cheeks and I couldn't even say,'go to a commercial break' because I was laughing so hard. To say the mess was horrendous is an understatement. He finally went to a break and we attempted to go in the next room and help him. We were absolutely no help at all. One of us did mange to compose himself enough to get the poor guy a bunch of wet paper towels and after a very long commercial break, we finally got it together enough to get back to the show. However, seconds after our mics came on, we began to laugh and once again we really couldn't stop laughing. It's like when you see something funny in church and know you shouldn't laugh but you do because you just can't help it.
When Larry accepted his wonderful honor on Saturday, I'm really glad he didn't think of that incident that happened back in 1990. If he had, he might still be on the stage laughing.
Congratulations my friend. That honor is very well deserved!
* * *
Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org