“The elephant pooped up there” and Wabash Cannonball
By Tony Schiavone
I’m not sure where I heard this before, but I was once told never to work with kids or animals when on the air. Neither will accommodate.
Such was the case on June 17, 2012—Father’s Day—when my grandson, Jackson joined me on the air for the finale of the Columbus series at Coolray Field.
But first, a little background information.
We are a baseball family. It has been my passion all my life; a passion that has been handed down to two of my four sons, Matt and Chris. I’m proud to say Matt is an associate producer with the MLB Network. Chris is an aspiring baseball announcer and is one of the most rabid students of the game.
Jackson is Chris’ youngest and has been handed down the baseball bug. Not, yet three years old, he loves the game. He loves to chop, throw, hit, run the bases and slide into home. His favorite player is Tyler Pastornicky. Every time we play ball at the house, he pretends he’s Tyler. “Passer-Mickey” is what he calls him. This is homage to his two favorites in the entertainment world, Tyler and Mickey Mouse.
And that takes us back to Fathers’ Day.
Chris brought Jackson into the broadcast booth and I thought it would be a lark to put the youngest Schiavone on the air. He sat to my left with a big Braves batting helmet covering his head and much of his face. At first, Jackson, as is the case with most kids, would not talk. But then I noticed his mouth moving during my play by play; he wanted to tell me something.
So, during the broadcast, seizing the moment, I grabbed a spare mic. Here’s how it went:
Papa Tony: “What? What did you say?”
Jackson (pointing to the scoreboard): “Did, the elephant pooped up there?”
Papa Tony: “Yeah, I see it up there.”
Jackson: “The elephant pooped up there!”
Papa Tony: “Yes, it sure did.”
What else could I do? I had to agree with my grandson. So as far as we are concerned, the elephant did poop up there. Needless to say, that line has become a catch phrase within the Schiavone family.
Now, any time I have no comeback to my wife, or kids, I say—you guessed it–the elephant pooped up there.
The G-Braves went on to lose that day, and lost 13 more in a row after that game for a grand total of 15 straight. Jackson may have been on to something with his line.
When you are in the midst of a 15 game losing streak, you will try anything. So during the recent eight game death march, err, road trip to upstate New York, I had the brilliant idea to sing during a game.
The idea was hatched on my memories of Dizzy Dean. During his years as a baseball broadcaster he used to sing “The Wabash Cannonball” during games. I guess he did this when the game got boring or out of hand.
From the great Atlantic ocean to the wide Pacific shore
To the green old flowing mountains by the south belt by the shore
Hear the mighty rush of the engine hear that lonesome hobo’s call
We’re riding though to Dixie on the Wabash Cannonball
Listen to the jingle, the rumble and the roar
As she glides along the woodland by the hills and by the shore
Hear the mighty rush of the engine hear the lonesome hobo’s call
We’re traveling through the jungle on the Wabash Cannonball
Our manager Dave Brundage was in favor of me singing. His agreement was based on two reasons. First, he wanted to try anything to break what had now become a monumental losing streak; and secondly, he was in for anything to make me sound silly (even more than usual).
So on Saturday, June 30th, during the second inning. I cranked out the tune. It was during Ernesto Mejia’s at bat. He didn’t get a hit. We didn’t win. So much for the song.
So now we look a miserable month in the “rear view mirror.” The G-Braves were 5-and-25 in June. Not sure if there has ever been a worse record in a single month in the long run of Minor League Baseball, but it’s got to be close.
But like they always say in Triple-A…if you don’t like your team, wait a month, you’ll get another one.