Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Great Voice Silenced

The first sounds of the 2007 baseball season should have been the national anthem followed by the cry of "play ball" and the crack of the bat.

Sunday, though, the more appropriate sound was silence, as in a moment of silence for the Hall of Fame announcer Herb Carneal, the voice of the Twins for the past 45 years.

Mr. Carneal, 83 at time of death, was felled by congestive heart failure, taken on the very morning of baseball's opening game between the Cardinals and New York Mets in St. Louis.

When the Twins join the rest of baseball in taking the field Monday, it will mark only the second season the team has started without Mr. Carneal behind the microphone. The first he did not call was the Washington Senators-turned Minnesota Twins' inaugural season, in 1961.

From 1962 on, the names of Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Zoilo Versalles, Tony Oliva, Camilo Pascual, Jim Kaat, Jim Perry, "Mudcat" Grant, Rod Carew, Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett, rolled across the land of 10,000 lakes, melliflously, delivered with a beauty and precision only a master could produce.

Now another great voice is silenced. When baseball returns that silence as a sign of respect today and through the season, we all should be reminded that some of the game's brightest stars - Vin Scully. Harry Kalas, Jaime Jarrin, Hall of Famers, all - are as much a part of basebally royalty as the players, and are to be cherished.

Treasure them while you can. And say a quiet prayer for Mr. Carneal.

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