To those outside the range of WFAN's 660 AM or 101.9 FM's frequency, Steve Somers'
name may not ring a bell.
But to those in the New York City area and those with access to the audacy.com streaming link, Somers was renowned as the last of the original on-air voices of the nation's first 24-hour sports radio station.
The outpouring of praise and love for him as his 34-year WFAN career came to an
end in mid-November was genuine. Media columnist Andrew Marchand in the New York Post put it very well when he noted the irony that it took a fellow from San Francisco to give the station its first true New York voice.
Starting as the overnight host "under the covers, talking S-P-O-R-T-S," Somers became the utility player extraordinaire in the later years of his career. Working many different shifts, I'd call him the Kike Hernandez/Chris Taylor of NY sports radio.
Somers' well-written opening monologues were informative and humorous, qualities very rare in a medium too often drowned out by shouting and superficial statistics from both hosts and callers. Somers' persona was genuinely caring and compassionate.
How fitting that his last special one-hour afternoon show began with a call from Jerry Seinfeld, his longtime fan, and ended with Bernie Williams calling in to say that as a Yankee player he always felt the fairness and insightfulness of Somers' commentaries.
Always nice to see class and professionalism applauded. And somewhere in the burgeoning world of new media I am hoping we'll hear again before too long that original and thoughtful Somers' voice.
I'm happy to report that for the first time in the long history of the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), a baseball scout will be honored. Billy Blitzer, recently retired after a 40-year career with the Chicago Cubs, will receive recognition at the BBWAA annual dinner at New York's Hilton Hotel on Sa January 29.
Among Blitzer's noteworthy signees were shortstop Shawon Dunston, the first pick in the nation in 1982, and southpaw Jamie Moyer, a sixth round pick in 1984 who like too many of Chicago signees went on to greater success elsewhere. Moyer wound up winning 269 games, only 28 for the Cubs.
On a sadder scouting note, Art Stewart, the Chicago-born Kansas City Royals scout who initally worked for the Yankees, passed away on November 11 at the age of 94.
Among his many accomplishments, Stewart was instrumental in guiding Hall of Famer George Brett and Bo Jackson from the amateur ranks to the majors. He always gave full credit to area scouts and the solid organization built by the late Kansas City owner pharmaceutical magnate Ewing Kauffman.
His book "The Art of Scouting" is a worthy contribution to understanding the most essential and often misunderstood business of player evaluation and development.
There will be more stories about Blitzer and Stewart and many other scouts in my own work-in-progress tentatively entitled "Homage to An Endangered Species."
In the meantime always remember: Take it easy but take it! And stay positive and test negative.