NORMAN STEPS UP TO THE BIG LEAGUES
By Bill Barnhart, Norwich Bulletin
August 17, 2003
 
     While Wayne Norman couldn't say it was the biggest thrill of his broadcasting career, getting the call up to the big leagues was a sweet experience.
 
     Norman, who works for WILI-AM 1400 in Willimantic, got an awesome 55th birthday present Sunday when he and co-worker John Tuite were pegged to call a Boston Red Sox game.  It was a dream come true for the life long Sox fan.
 
     "I had a big time adrenaline rush," Norman said of the experience.
 
     Some of Norman's co-workers -- including vice president of Nutmeg Broadcasting Colin Rice -- attended Red Sox Radio Network Affiliates Day earlier this season at Fenway Park.  After a tour of the facilities, Red Sox president Larry Lucchino asked if Rice had any questions, suggestions, or requests.
 
     Swinging for the fences, Rice wondered aloud if some of his guys might take a turn in the booth, calling the action from legendary Fenway Park. 
 
     Lucchino made it happen.
 
     So there were Norman and Tuite last Sunday, two very talentted local sports radio guys, serving up the action for Red Sox fans.
 
     Norman said he wasn't nervous because he has more than 500 college baseball games under his belt.  He couldn't say it was the biggest game of his career, because he has a special place in his heart for the 1999 UConn men's national championship and for the four national championships he has called for the ECSU baseball team.
 
     "I've done a lot of play-by-play," Norman explained.  "But this was a big game."
 
     He was jacked up, but not nervous.  Then came the technical difficulties.  For whatever reason -- completely out of Norman and Tuite's control -- there were problems and didn't get the pair on the air until the second inning.
 
     After that, it was a breeze.
 
     The pair traded innings, and Norman got to call the exciting ninth, when holding onto a slim 5-3 lead, the visiting Baltimore Orioles walked the bases loaded.  Baltimore closer Jorge Julio struck out Nomar Garciaparra to preserve the win.
 
     Besides the Sox coming up short and the technical problems, the only other difficulty was the sight lines, as the booth sits high above the field, an angle Norman isn't used to watching games from.  He said he started to call one pop fly that eventually became a home run.
 
     Norman tried to work in as many local stories as possible, including one about Sox PA announcer Carl Beane.   Beane used to do a morning radio show in Willimantic before moving up the professional ladder.  The interesting part of the story is that Beane used his contacts in Boston to have his father's ashes buries in left field in Fenway Park.
 
     Since the theme at the park was "Connecticut Day," the pair's stories -- including an interview with Jewett City restaurant owner Joe DiMaggio -- fit in perfectly.
 
     Not a bad way for Norman to celebrate his 55th birthday.
 
     "I heard the tape," Norman said.  "I'm satisfied with the job we both did.  It was a big thrill."
 
 
 
 
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