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Meanwhile, in Colorado Springs, the rain has stopped, and in Tacoma the younger Robertson has begun filling out his yellow sheets with data. Unfortunately, the beginning of the game catches engineer Robert Hoffman eating his dinner.
"We got a start," says Bob Robertson; then, acknowledging his engineer's appetite, he adds, "When Robert finishes eating, we're going to start the game call." After a warmup show, done from media guides, player file cards, newspapers and Robertson's own notebook, the first pitch is delivered at 8:11 p.m. in Tacoma.
The broadcast runs about 40 minutes after the action described has actually taken place. While John gathers information on the progress of the game over the phone, his father slowly unfolds the drama. The count goes to 3-1 or 3-2 on nearly every hitter.
Robertson sits on a stool, facing a window that overlooks a shopping mall. There's not a whole lot to see, but, no matter, he rarely looks outside; most of the time his head is down as he pores over the yellow sheets. He knows the 10 PCL ballparks by heart. When there's a foul ball—created by him—Robertson will frequently take his listeners on a verbal tour of the stadium. But there are occasions when he has to describe players he has never seen. Not tonight, however.
"I think he's actually seeing this game," says John of his father's ability to re-create the action. And in truth, many times it seems that the scenes Robertson creates in his broadcast are more vivid, more real, than those reported by someone actually at the ballpark.
But let's be perfectly frank: It's Robertson's game, and he is not a man to make a big deal out of losing track of the count. "It's my count," he explains after the broadcast, dismissing any need to consult a ball-and-strike indicator.
The first half of the first inning between the Tigers and the Sky Sox ends at 8:28 p.m. Three runs on three hits and no errors fill 17 minutes.
John places a stack of coming half-innings before his father. Bob barely glances at them. "I try not to look too far ahead, because I don't want to know what's coming," he says.
Sky Sox Stadium is playing true to form this evening. The first two innings yield 12 runs. The furious scoring in Colorado Springs complicates John's transcribing job. But after the on-the-scene observer misses the distinction between a base hit and a fielder's choice, John doesn't even bother asking him how to score the action on a subsequent complicated rundown play. In any event, the chore of moving the runners along proceeds efficiently, thanks to some fancy footwork on the part of his father.
And then it happens. A mistake. On a single in the bottom of the third, Robertson drives in the men from second and third. But in the real world only the man on third has scored.