by Clark Groome
Forget about the Eagles’ Carson Wentz, North Dakota’s favorite son.
Forget about the Phillies’ Gold Glove-nominee Freddy Galvis.
Forget about the 76ers’ Joel Embiid.
Forget about the Flyers’ youngsters and about Wayne Simmonds.
This year, it would seem, belongs to the Phillies’ and Flyers’ public address announcers.
Over the last six months Dan Baker and Lou Nolan, two of the best-known and longest-tenured PA voices in Philadelphia (or anywhere else, for that matter), have made news away from their mikes.
Dan Baker just completed his 46th season as the Phillies PA guy. In addition he also was the Eagles announcer from 1985 until he was “let go” in 2014.
Early during the Phils’ recently completed season Baker became the subject of a bobblehead figure, something usually reserved for players.
The bobble, which is a really good likeness, was produced for Shibe Vintage Sports (137 South Walnut St. in Center City; 215-566-2511). It’s $25 worth spending to have a memento of the man who’s been the familiar and comforting voice through the years when the Phillies on-field performance ranged from horrific to so good they won two World Series championships.
Across Pattison Avenue in, first, the Spectrum and now, after many name changes, the Wells Fargo Center, Lou Nolan worked initially in the team’s public relations office and, since 1972, as its game-time voice.
Sitting between the penalty boxes right on the ice gives him a unique perspective on what’s happening and the nature of those who are playing or officiating the game.
His tenure has also given him an interesting inside look at the organization that has been so successful over the last 51 years.
Nolan has teamed with Philadelphia Inquirer hockey beat writer Sam Carchidi to produce “If These Walls Could Talk” (Triumph Books, print: $16.95; e-book: $11:99), a 250-page book of stories about the Flyers organization.
His stories are well told, and many of them are revelatory about the team he clearly loves. We get some new insights into founder and chairman Ed Snider; into the team’s long-standing relationship with its good-luck singer, Kate Smith; and about many of the players we may think we know but really don’t.
It’s insightful and a great deal of fun.
Always being suspicious of this kind of book, I started it with a bit of trepidation. In the first chapter he reports that early in the team’s history Snider used to call down to him to find out why something was happening the way it was. On one occasion, he reports, referee Bob Myers had a long list of penalties Nolan needed to announce.
“Just then, the phone rang and it was Ed,” Nolan recalled. “I said, ‘Just a minute, Ed,’ and I put the phone down because Myers wanted to finish up. When Myers finished, I got back on the phone with Ed. He said, ‘Lou, there’s something you and I have got to get straight between us.’ I said, ‘Sure, Ed, what’s that?’ And he said. ‘When I call you, I want the referee put on hold.’”
I was hooked.
“If These Walls Could Talk” is full of similar anecdotes. Nolan acknowledges Carchidi’s role in helping him tell his stories, which won’t surprise anyone who reads his admirable reports and columns in the Inquirer.
The nicest thing about Baker and Nolan is that they are as classy as the organizations for which they work.
As a result, they would be the last to suggest forgetting about Wentz, Galvis, Embiid and all those Flyers. They are, it’s clear, the reason people come to the games and then get to hear the PA guys.
Next time you’re at a Phillies or Flyers game listen a bit more closely to the public address announcements. It’ll be clear when you do just how lucky we in Philly are to have Dan Baker and Lou Nolan in those chairs.