• John Bacchia

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

This blog post is NOT about this date, but a conversation with my old radio colleague Bob Smiley. We recounted a phone interview we conducted with an old-time major league pitcher, Smokey Joe Wood. Smokey told a tale about a big game in which he had struck out the legendary Babe Ruth. There's a good chance you never heard of Wood. He's not in the Hall of Fame despite once compiling a single season record of 34 and 5. As legend goes, the right handed pitcher got his start in baseball posing as a female on a women's barnstorming team. The Bloomer Girls competed against men's teams. Wood was a good looking youngster with youthful features that allowed him to play in disguise. The Red Sox were so smitten by his talents that they signed him to a contract. The rest is baseball history. During our conversation with the baseball legend years ago, Wood brought up the fact that he was sidelined in 1918 due to a pandemic that struck the globe. It was a respiratory ailment that became known as the Spanish Flu that killed upwards of 50 million. That was 101 years ago and for some strange reason I was comforted by the fact that Smoky Joe survived the pandemic and lived to the ripe-old age of 97. By the way, when I asked Joe about striking out Babe Ruth, he didn't seem to think it was such a big deal. For Joe, surviving the pandemic of 1918 was the Ruthian accomplishment.

Red Sox pitcher Smokey Joe Wood

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  • John Bacchia

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

As play-by-play legend Jack Buck once said, "I can't believe what I just saw!" That phrase rings true today for me as I write this blog post. It's hard to get a handle on what we are witnessing every single time we flip on the TV or look out the window or try to live our lives. The global pandemic has frozen the planet! Heck, it even stopped the college basketball season in its tracks. Who in their right mind might have imagined that scenario. Can't believe what I just saw! Can't believe. Period. I have to remind myself in the morning that we're not caught in some horrible nightmare. There are many more important things than basketball, but we sure need our diversions now more than ever. So here are some exciting play-by-play radio highlights presented in an SHU produced web series entitled "The Voyage". According to Hilltop's Dave Popkin, "it was one of the more exciting play-by-play assignments I've had for Seton Hall given the dunks, 13 three-pointers, sellout crowd and the importance of the win." That's saying a lot, because Dave has teamed with Gary Cohen for more than 500 Seton Hall radio broadcasts. The Mets play-by-play legend was on assignment for this one and Dave donned his play-by-play hat, with John Fanta providing the color. It was a great win, and a big-time milestone game for 6'11" Sandro Mamukelashvili. He scored 26 points and had his best game as a Pirate. To me, Sandro showcased his full potential, as he displayed every aspects of his game. Check the video out. It was a landmark Seton Hall win of 2020. The year March Madness never arrived or concluded. I still can't believe it.

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  • John Bacchia

Updated: Mar 30, 2020

Our national pandemic nightmare has me thinking about an old friend and client. Dr. Leon Smith passed away in 2016 after decades of work as a preeminent expert in the world of infectious diseases. Man, could we use his help right now. When I first met him as we prepared to conduct an interview in 2012, he was introduced to me as a real world "House", a popular TV series featuring a maverick doctor who solved unusual and impossible medical cases. The TV character House, played by actor Hugh Laurie, had a wise-cracking sarcastic personality; Leon Smith on the other hand was adored by a large contingent of patients and doctors and friends as showcased in this short film. The late CBS legend Mike Wallace compared Dr Leon Smith to the Marcus Welby character played by Robert Young in the 1960s and 70s. Smith became legendary because he solved many baffling cases while saving literally thousands of lives, but he became a beloved member of the medical community to doctors and patients alike. Dr. Smith was president of the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases and received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Mastership Award presented by the American College of Physicians. He published over 250 papers and articles on infectious diseases and wrote many chapters in highly regarded books on the subject and was voted by his peers as one of the "Best Doctors in America" for his diagnostic skills. His battles with tort reform were featured by Mike Wallace on "60 Minutes"in 2003, and Dr. Smith would have been a valuable resource during the Corona virus pandemic. His foundation continues to raise money and his legacy remains a powerful testament to his life as portrayed in this video production we put together back in 2012.


The Smith Infectious Disease Foundation short film, narrated by Don Criqui

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