Appreciating a True Legend: Joe Castiglione

Photo Credit: Greg Derr / The Patriot Ledger

Have you ever been in an old man’s garage? I don’t know if I’m antiquing, or entering a Middle Earth battle ground. Vice grips, hammers, saws, random nails haphazardly protruding from walls, it’s all there. Throw in a potpourri of milk crates stuffed with old rags, a workbench featuring an alarm clock flashing 12:00 literally all the time, and an old cable box or Nintendo Power Glove taken apart for no apparent purpose, you’ve now got yourself a room to steer clear of for the rest of your life.

Until… Spring Cleaning. Mothers and wives alike flock to the market following their 10:00 o’clock Zumba classes, then rush home, frothing at the mouths over assigning cleaning duties to their unsuspecting kin. And suddenly, before you know it, everything’s spic and span. Even the torture chamber has been redefined. Well enough that one would conceivably have ample space to park their vehicle inside. But that’s not what a garage is for, is it?

Not mine, not ever. Let me paint you a picture: gray walls, gray ceiling. Oil stains on the ground from the beginning of time; one overhead light that’s too high to reach, bailed out by an old string that hangs low enough to brush you in the face; and a couple of old lawn chairs that don’t fully open until you pick the rust out of the old bolts and washers. In the corner you’ll find a stack of old newspapers, a tennis ball cut in half for no true purpose, and my trusty, aged Frigidaire cooler with ice from last summer, which melted into a warm pool of water to the decadence of neighborhood doggies.

Oh yeah, and the old clock radio. Defiantly, it flashes the same monotonous pattern of digital red lines to any and all garage dwellers. Fortunately, I already know what time it is; because just as he’s done each year since 1983, Joe Castiglione’s honeyed voice just welcomed me into another night of Red Sox baseball.

Long before delighting Sox Nation and WEEI broadcasts, the two book author attended Colgate University and ultimately earned his Master’s at Syracuse. He then dug his feet in for the community of Youngstown, Ohio, and in 1972, Joe’s career in sportscasting began.

The Connecticut born Italian began calling games for the Cavaliers and the (owners of a current 20 game winning streak) Cleveland Indians. Being a dynamic kayaker, it only made sense to return to his New England roots, which Castiglione did in 1983, pairing with lead announcer Ken Coleman. Thus, marking the start of his Red Sox tenure. A mere three years passed before Boston got Buckner’d, which is a story we’ve heard many times before… with this lesser known detail: Joe wasn’t in the booth for the call. He had already hoofed down to the Sox clubhouse, ready to cover the impending 68 year drought reversal. However it was he who’d have the last laugh, with his jubilant “can you believe it!” inquisitive declaration 18 seasons later… survived as a ringtone for the next four years on my chocolate LG slider.

Throughout the last century and a quarter, Sox Nation has been spoiled (unless your gravestone reads 1919-2003) in more ways than one. Blessed with 8 world championships, the historic Fenway Park, plus a knowledgeable, passionate fan base, Bostonians even have a history of good ownership, despite Mr. John Henry hell bent on rewriting the history books by renaming Yawkey Way.

It’s easy to take something for granted when you come to expect it to be there, year in and year out. Sure, Orsillo and Remdawg were phenomenal. However, Joe Castig has been worth his weight in gold, and at 70 years young, has thankfully given no hint towards retirement. But what allows him to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the radio warriors?

1. Well, he makes you feel that he’s calling the game to you, personally. Not the city, nor the nation. It’s a 1-on-1 conversation, whether he’s boasting a walk-off wall ball knock, or breezing through another Shaw’s supermarkets advertisement. This keeps me, and fellow listeners, engaged.

2. The voice. The clear, distinctive, accurately annunciating Syracuse alum brings the game to you. Calm when needs to be, yet euphoric when the situation dictates. Imagine Dick Vitale overblowing every pitch, or, Lord help us, John Madden explaining the importance of bringing your lumber to the batters box. Hard pass.

3. The man is a mainstay. Castiglione IS Red Sox baseball. Jerry “the troop” Trupiano was a wildly entertaining & sturdy sidekick for a pair of decades, with Glenn Geffner also proving to be a serviceable incumbent. But admit it- on the rare occasion Joe isn’t in the booth, something just seems off. I feel a pang of guilt, as if I’m violating the sanctity of our listener-announcer alliance.

When gametime rolls around, You can let your mind float on, intertwining with the radio waves’ slightly static undertone. The pitch of Joe’s voice emanates from your Radio Shack clock radio, and for three hours, the listeners are at peace; content. The day is over, remaining responsibilities are shirked, and the once stocked Frigidaire will soon be a graveyard of crushed Budweiser cans and empty Kool-Bursts. But win or lose, Mighty Joe Castiglione is right there with you either reveling in the spoils of victory, or sharing the burden of an ill-fated defeat. Following 34 years -with a feasible 15 more- of loyal servitude, legendary talent and never to be forgotten memories from the Hall of Fame announcer, maybe John Henry will come to the realization that “Castiglione Way” surely would be met with high approbation by the Fenway Faithful and New Englanders alike.

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About Gerard Lombardo

OEF Veteran with a penchant for Red Sox baseball and expedient sways of emotional stability.
View all posts by Gerard Lombardo →

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