Sam Burnham, Curator
The Marietta Daily Journal has reported that the “Field of Dreams” game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox had the highest TV viewership of any other regular game since 2005.
The two teams wore their old traditional uniforms and entered the field through the cornfield led in dramatic fashion by Kevin Costner channeling his old Ray Kinsella character.
They built it. They put a baseball stadium in a cornfield in rural Iowa and, just like Terrance Mann said, people did definitely come. People watched it on TV. People have been tweeting, talking, and writing about it for days. This country is giddy with it.
The is certainly fueled by the movie. But people are hungry for this stuff. There is so much rotten going on in the world right now. People want something beautiful, something sentimental, something nostalgic. Play baseball in the corn and they flock to it. This world can be better than we’re making it right now.
This is bigger than the game. It’s bigger than the movie. To borrow another quote from the film, “ There comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place - and the universe opens itself up for a few seconds to show you what's possible.” That’s what this moment was...even if it was just for a moment.
So, having seen this phenomenon...what is possible? What else should be held on a farm or in a small town? What else would inspire people if it were brought out of the smog covered city and displayed alongside organic beauty?
Sam Burnham, Curator
I’ll never forget the time I met Bobby Bowden. He and his son Terry were doing a book signing at a bookstore in Birmingham. Bobby was the head coach at Florida State. Terry was the head coach at Auburn. I dropped all shame and asked him for a job on his support staff. He looked at me and asked me if I was still in college. I told him I was and he “I want you to call me when you graduate.”
But this isn’t the story of things I wish I had done.
I got a lump in my throat last month when the Bowden family announced that the coach had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. I was further saddened this morning to awake to the announcement that Coach Bowden had passed.
All through middle and high school I followed the Seminoles. I was rabid with it. I thought myself a Florida State fan but finally came to realize I was, in fact, a Bobby Bowden fan. And when he left the office for the last time, my loyalty followed him out the door.
I was enthralled by his game planning, the players he recruited, the plays he designed and called. His system built a championship caliber program out of a minor league team. I was impressed by the way he motivated his players without giving himself an aneurysm losing his temper. He maintained control of his emotions, put his plan to work, made adjustments as necessary and became the second winningest coach in Division I history.
Florida State tweeted this morning “Today we lost a legend but you never lose a legacy.” That could not be more true. He has left a multigenerational coaching tree that will shape the sport for years to come. He shaped the lives of players and staff members who will impact lives off the field. His legacy lives on and the world is richer for it.
Sam Burnham, Curator
Back at the beginning on this month, Georgians of a particular age were delighted when iHeart Radio resurrected Atlanta radio station 96 Rock in an all-digital format.
From 1974 to 2006, 96 Rock ruled the airwaves across North Georgia. I’ve heard more than one person opine that it was the best radio station in The South. The only competition for that title I ever encountered was Classic Rock 99.5 in Birmingham and WRUF-FM in Gainesville, Florida. Both of these stations were also gobbled up and destroyed by corporate radio acquisition. This is why modern commercial radio stinks. But that’s another story.
Back to the good aspects. The nostalgia ran deep on this. They say you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. But in this case, we knew exactly what we had. Homesick Georgians were gathered together at Jacksonville State one night when someone suggested going up to Mt Cheaha and listening to 96 Rock. The signal up there was crystal clear under a starlit sky and a pilgrimage was born. That’s just one of many stories. And a lot of Georgians can tell you similar tales.
My take on the reboot is mixed. The music is great even though it’s a bit repetitive at times. Toward the end of the broadcast era, the station had the same problem, only much worse. It is good to hear most of the voices of the old personalities. The iconic “This is 96 Rock” makes me smile every time.
I do not like hearing the reminiscing by “The Regular Guys.” The former morning team whose juvenile antics ultimately killed the entire station are pretty much hailed as heroes at times. There’s no reason for Eric von Haessler’s voice to be on 96 Rock. There’s no reason for Larry Wachs to be heard on radio ever again, period. Like many New York transplants in Georgia, these two self-serving miscreants made a lot of money destroying something we all loved. And that’s all I have to say about that.
I do hope that the station will cultivate more of a presence in the area. Ultimately what we have right now is a playlist. In its heyday, 96 Rock was where we heard about shows, concerts, album releases, and other music news. The very first time I heard Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell was when 96 Rock played the album in it’s entirety. The 96 Rock stage at Music Midtown was always a must. This wasn’t just a radio station. It was part of the community. Correction, it was part of our communities, plural.
So this resurrection is not without negatives, particularly the fact that it is orchestrated by the Walmart of radio, iHeart. It’s a corporate thing and we all get that. But hopefully that floating disembodied heart emoji in the sky will see by that data it’s collecting that we all still love our old station and they’ll put the resources into it to make it what it was, what it could be, what it should be.
Welcome back, 96 Rock!
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire