A Salute To Baseball With Jonathan Schwartz (& Black and White Cookies)

Baseball and basketballHere we are, another Super Bowl Sunday. I don’t dislike football, and I do watch it. But the fact is I only get really worked up by two sports and they involve round balls and the use of your hands. Football is just okay and only has one major purpose. It fills some time until baseball season. With that in mind, when I think of the Super Bowl my biggest memory is not of anyone throwing a touchdown pass or running to glory. It’s Jonathan Schwartz.

Jonathan Schwartz, if you do not know, is a long-time disc jockey in New York. He actually started out doing free form rock at the old WNEW-FM in the ‘60s, but in reality he was more into standards, particularly Sinatra. So by the late ‘70s he was over at WNEW-AM, the last New York bastion for the music “where the melody lingers on.”

Now let’s get this straight, this was not my music, or my station. I’m old, folks, but not that old. But my parents loved WNEW and we grew up in tight quarters, so I heard plenty of the station in my life. I always kind of liked when Schwartz was on as I knew him from his previous life as an FM guy and more importantly, he would slip a little baseball conversation in from time to time, including a one-hour “Salute to Baseball” every single Super Bowl Sunday.

What was the “Salute to Baseball”? It was a pre-internet radio version of some cool YouTube clips. Obscure baseball songs, mixed with play-by-play. The very first half inning radiocast of the Mets made the cut for a few years. Some classic Vin Scully. Mazerowski’s walk-off.  All kinds of stuff.  Right from the start, Mom especially ate it up, total baseball fanatic that she is. It was really, in the end, geared more to her generation, just like WNEW-AM.

black-white-cookiesOver time I moved on and out and WNEW-AM stopped playing Sinatra or any other music. The “Salute to Baseball” endured though as Schwartz moved to WNYC and continued the routine. As my Mom was a widow by this time and living alone, I began to plan my Super Bowl Sundays around Schwartz’s show.  I would pop over to her place for a visit a little before noon with some black and white cookies and listen to the “Salute” with her before going on with my day. During commercials we would talk about the Mets since spring training was finally close enough to feel.  For us, Jonathan Schwartz had changed the dynamic of the day. It was no longer the biggest day of the football season. It was the first day of the baseball season.  Talk about Super.

Eventually life started to get in the way of the visits. Kids of my own, had to work a few years too. Mom would always ask if I had a chance to listen, and for a long time I did. I’m not exactly sure when I stopped, but ten years ago seems about right. When I checked this week, it seems like Schwartz stopped doing the “Salute” himself, which I can understand. Things change.

But the theme remains for me that today is the glorious beginning of baseball.  So I want to do my own salute, to Jonathan Schwartz, who gave me my best football memories.

Baseball ones.

Opening-Day-citi-field

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9 comments

  1. Lucas Taylor says:

    Jonathan Schwartz is a turd. Shame on you for falling for his phony charade. I thought you were smarter than that. Wake up – read up – and stop thinking this fraud is anything other than a legend in his own mind. He is a TURD.

  2. Bruno Beninati says:

    What sort of asshole likes Schwartz? Fail. I mean come on guys. He’s awful.

  3. Aliana says:

    If you had a brain you would never leave such stupid comments do you even know him, have you ever listed to him – bury yourelf in a hole guys.

  4. Terrimac says:

    Think you’re all missing the point here. It’s not really what your personal feelings are for Jonathan Schwartz (though at least a couple of you seem to have some very strong feelings), it’s how the writer connects baseball season and the bond he had with his mom with the radio announcer’s Superbowl broadcast. Try to think warm and fuzzy guys.

  5. Alan K. says:

    Really, thanks for sharing this, Mike. The one thing that struck me was that there is a strong bond with baseball that exists between our parents’ generation and which to a degree exists in our own generation that will likely never exist again. I get what Jonathan Schwartz did and why it meant so much to your mom, but the world has changed and I don’t think baseball will ever again occupy the emotional space it has with the post AARP card generations.

  6. DD says:

    Interesting, or not: the teenaged Jonathan Schwartz was a common face at the household of Richard and Andrea Simon, of Simon and Schuster and the parents of Carly and Lucy Simon. He said that Lucy was definitely the favored daughter.

    Been reading a triple barelled biography of Carly, Carole King and Join Mitchell. Baseball hasn’t come up much, except that the childe Carole did go to a Giants game in the Polo Grounds occasionally.

  7. Ken H. says:

    You learn something new everyday. Today, I learned that Jonathan Schwartz has more enemies than I thought and is a lightning rod on 2GTMB. I am hopeful to learn something more productive tomorrow.

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