Tuesday, January 27, 2009

WZON Hot Stove Night
January 26, 2009
This is the sixth year that WZON has hosted its Hot Stove Night event. While this was only my second time to go (last year being the first), I can say that this year’s was just as good as last years. It’s hard for me to pick one over the other as far as one being better.

This year’s event, held last night (Monday), saw the return of the two men who were last years guests: Joe Castiglione (on his sixth visit), and Gordon Edes (on his third). And joining them for his first experience with this great event was Don Orsillo, the NESN Red Sox announcer.

For nearly 120 minutes these three guys gave us insight into the Red Sox’s off-season, trades that have occurred, where they see the Red Sox going in the 2009 season, and also some personal stories which were very funny.

A special guest this year was Bangor-resident and current Philadelphia Phillie Matt Stairs. Matt was crucial in the Phillies run to the World Series, where they won by beating the Tampa Bay Rays. Matt was there to receive an award he got as Sports Story of the year, voted on by WZON listeners and Bangor Daily News readers (his two run homer against the Dodgers in the NLCS). He seemed very humbled by the honor and in receiving the award. The crowd, despite being a Red Sox crowd, gave him a standing ovation and cheered loudly when he took the stage to receive the award from Dale Duff, the PD of WZON. And even better, Matt was sitting RIGHT BEHIND ME! That’s right Philly fans…your player was at a Red Sox meeting, and I think he loved it. (Matt coaches the local John Bapst hockey team during the off-season when he is living back in Bangor.) Did you know that Matt has hit over 10 home runs a year for his past 13 seasons?

Matt Stairs (Philadelphia Phillies) and Dale Duff (WZON)

Don offered a funny story of when he was 21 and broadcasting AHL games, as the “rookie” who was announcing for former NHL players, he told of a time when his luggage somehow disappeared on a trip to the Eastern Canadian coast for a string of games, but the players were showing up on the bus wearing his shirts. They had kidnapped his luggage and were wearing his clothes!

As questions were put forth, they each offered their own take on the question, but I found it most interesting (and awesome) to hear Gordon say that he fully wants to Jason Veritek back with the Red Sox next year. Tek has been getting a lot of negative press, mostly to do with the decrease in his offense this past year, but for a catcher to try to come into the Sox and work with these pitchers…there’s no one better suited than Jason Veritek. Joe and Don both agreed with Gordon that Tek needs to be here at least one more year. Take that, Tek-haters. (Did you know that only one catcher in MLB history has caught 4 no-hitters? Any idea who that is? If you said VERITEK you’d be right.)

(left to right): Gordon Edes, Joe Castiglione and Don Orsillo at WZON Hot Stove Night

Joe again, like last year, offered his take on baseball happenings with the Red Sox is his light, breezy way. He noted that he left 80degree, sunny Florida to come up to this event (it was near 10 degrees last night), asking, “Can you believe it?”
Sponsors of the event had games to play (tossing ball through a hole to get into a drawing for a $100 bill); raffle for Portland SeaDogs tickets; raffles for Red Sox tickets; and one sponsor even had lobstah rolls and clam chowdah for us.
At the close of the event, everyone sticks around not only for the autograph session, but also because WZON raffles off the three recliners/chairs that Joe, Gordon and Don sat in, as well as Red Sox tickets, photo-mints (I won the Red Sox Opening Day 2008 photo-mint – when the Sox got their rings for the 2007 World Series) and other items.
WZON Staff included: Dale Duff, Clem Labree, Jeff Solari, Pat Spekhardt, Bobby Russell, Sales Goddess Carrie, Lost-fan Jen, Big Bill, and Kenny V, to name a few.
All in all, another great Hot Stove Night put on by WZON, their staff and the sponsors. Thanks to Joe, Gordon and Don for making this trip, a trip that both Gordon and Joe say they love to come up for because they know the reaches of Red Sox Nation stretch quite a ways above Boston.
(left to right): Don Orsillo, Gordon Edes, Joe Castiglione at WZON Hot Stove Night

Looking forward to having them all (?) back next year. And, hoping I win tickets again…

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