Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
UA baseball loses good one in Barrett
Matt McGloin, senior quarterback from Penn State, shakes hands with Chuck Barrett after accepting the Brandon Burlsworth Trophy Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 during a ceremony at the Springdale Holiday Inn Convention Center in Springdale.
FAYETTEVILLE -- Chuck Barrett forsaking broadcasting baseball to concentrate on other endeavors seems like Leonardo da Vinci packing in his paint brush for other pursuits.
Admittedly, it's beyond a stretch comparing the Arkansas Razorbacks' play-by-play man to da Vinci, who defined the Renaissance man and was still more learned and more skilled at more things in the 1500s than the overwhelming majority in this 21st century.
But in broadcasting, Barrett glides as expertly from football to basketball as da Vinci did from architecture to zoology.
Barrett proved his football/basketball versatility while following Razorbacks broadcasting icons Mike Nail, the Razorbacks' basketball voice from 1981 until his retirement in 2010, and the beloved Paul Eells, the football voice from 1978 until his untimely death in 2007.
Barrett will continue broadcasting Razorbacks football and basketball. For that Arkansas will be grateful.
Still, some will be miffed. Can't blame them.
Because baseball, the Mona Lisa of Barrett's artistry, is the one Chuck forsakes. It was announced this week that after 23 springs at the baseball mike, Barrett will turn it over next year to someone else to take Arkansans out to the ballgame from their car radios or radios back home.
Barrett broadcasted baseball with such knowledge, timing and pace that it became an Arkansas standard on the Razorbacks' ESPN telecasts to mute the TV and listen to Chuck.
The TV-radio gap of what you saw and what you heard would be off, but Chuck's description was always right on.
Broadcasting college football, basketball and baseball comprises a grind virtually without a break. It spans from football's first game in late August through basketball and overlaps into a baseball season that can extend to mid-June if the Hogs advance to the College World Series.
Given the money netted from broadcasting football and basketball over college baseball and the road fatigue from three-day baseball conference weekends that feed into a potentially prolonged postseason, it just adds up that baseball would be subtracted for a university's overworked three-sport broadcaster.
Still it's a shame that Arkansas' college baseball version of the late Jack Buck, the Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals broadcaster, yields what made him an Arkansas pastime.
For like Buck with St. Louis and baseball, the Clarksville native knows Arkansas and baseball and what mixes complementing both.
Basketball's speed and football's hype would seem to make both tougher to broadcast than baseball. Yet most point to baseball, with its pauses, ebbs and flows then brief frenzies as the most difficult to broadcast.
Having broadcast some Razorbacks baseball myself during the 1980s when the late Ed Froning owned Fayetteville radio station KNWA, I can empathize with baseball broadcasters and their precarious balance of trying to inform and entertain and keep in the mental game over a long day's journey into night.
Fortunately, my brief baseball broadcasting bit came way before Chuck.
Otherwise I would have played Dan Quayle to everybody's Lloyd Bentsen: "You, sir, are no Chuck Barrett."
They would be one thousand percent correct.
Sports on 07/05/2014