Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites and outdoor publications, and for the past ten years has served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press.  Widely knowledgeable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the Midwest. He and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.


Call me old, call me cranky, or just call me when you read this…but for sheer entertainment value ESPN’s telecast Monday of the All-Star home run derby was ruined by too much annoying banter.

Alright Bill Sturwold, Mitch Hirsch, and other area baseball coaches and colleagues…who in good fun like to point out that many of my long-held attitudes about modern baseball are simply “old” and “out of touch”.

That stirrup socks and properly fitting pants should be made mandatory and a proper uniform complement.  No more flat bills on a baseball cap.  No high-top cleats.  No aluminum bats.  And above all else…no “T-shirt” jerseys.

It’s funny that kids still wear tuxedos to the prom, yet, are willing to go “ghetto” when they play baseball.  And for the record, my success in baseball far exceeded that from the prom, so yes…I’m going to lobby for some of the game’s more respectful traditions.

You can pooh-pooh this observation, too.  As much as Monday’s All-Star home run contest was built up and hyped by ESPN, it was largely a dud…and just plain, flat-out annoying to listen to.

It was a dud because many of the younger “stars” hyped by the network and the announcers simply didn’t show up.  In person they were there.  But for what they did they might have well stayed at the hotel. 

The much vaunted Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp went “ofer”.  Likewise, did the Pirates’ Andrew McCutcheon, who I personally like as the National League’s MVP at this stage of the season.  The guy can play.

But the show was annoying because of host Chris Berman, whose trademark “Back-back-back-back-back-back” chant on every fly ball has simply become repetitive and uninspiring after 25 years.  Like the boy who cried “wolf” you no longer look up to see if there is one when you hear it now. 

The military doesn’t need to “waterboard” terrorists to get them to break and divulge security secrets.  Just make them listent to Chris Berman.

Annoying?  When he doesn’t do the woodpecker thing with “back-back-back-back-back” he mixes in “This one is wa-a-a-ay back”, stretching the upper range of his voice until he’s literally breathless.  It’s made worse by him adding, “This one is even farther wa-a-a-y back”, as if we can’t see for ourselves.  C’mon,  “Boomer”.  Four hours of that crap?

I had to turn it off.

The only thing interesting about the show was listening to guest George Brett, who stopped by to talk about his career in Kansas City,  and who brought a tray of ribs for John Kruk to do his own derby on.  That…was entertaining.  A rack of ribs and a bath towel to wipe up with.  Charming!

What they should do is go back and watch tape of the original Home Run Derby series from the 60s, filmed in Los Angeles and hosted by a guy named Mark Baker (whoever he was).  Baker was better host than Berman because he kept his mouth shut.  He apparently understood that he was on television…that there was a picture…and that we could all see how far the ball went for ourselves. 

The show is still aired occasionally late at night and on weekends,  and it features some priceless footage of Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Harmon Killebrew, Wally Post, and Hank Aaron during the height of their hitting careers.  It was simple.  There was no contrived banter between the host and a panel of co-hosts, and the feats of the participants spoke volumes without speaking unnecessary words.  You Tube it and see for yourself.

It’s just a shame that Chris Berman…has never watched!

As a side note I got an email photo from the west coast Tuesday morning from a friend who always catches the little things that the average viewer might miss during a sports broadcast.

Such as…the belt that Detroit slugger Prince Fielder wore during the Home Run Derby competition.  Not the average baseball belt…but what appeared to be the belt he wore with his street pants when he came to the park.  Alligator, or some other exotic skin, who knows?  But a nice touch, nonetheless, and funny…because which of us who played the game hasn’t shown up at one time or another without a belt, socks, or some other article of clothing.

Hey Mom…can you bring my pants to the park?