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Castiglione answers call

Broadcasts had historical ring

Sox radio broadcaster Joe Castiglione always had a stock answer in the past when people would ask: "What was your most thrilling call?"

The automatic response was, "It hasn't happened yet."

"Now, I guess it has," said Castiglione. "We called the greatest comeback in sports history and it continued right through the World Series."

Baseball broadcasters, especially, have a strong sense of tradition, carrying a legacy from past partners with them in the booth.

Thus, Castiglione intoned, "There's pandemonium on the field," in honor of Ned Martin's call of the pennant-clincher from the 1967 "Impossible Dream" Red Sox as he described the Busch Stadium scene in the moments after the Red Sox won Game 4 to sweep the 2004 World Series last Wednesday night. Castiglione also paid tribute to another late partner, Ken Coleman, after the game, running a tape of Coleman reading from a Bart Giamatti baseball essay.

Castiglione and 17-season Sox broadcaster Sean McDonough got calls from baseball author Curt Smith this winter. Smith is including both in his latest project, "Voices of Summer," which will recognize Smith's honor roll of baseball's 101 best broadcasters.

"It's one of those honors that takes your breath away," said McDonough.

Back to the future

Sometimes life brings you full circle. Sox radio voice Jerry Trupiano found himself in familiar surroundings when he and Castiglione called World Series Games 3 and 4 from an auxiliary radio booth in Busch Stadium. "It was the same booth I used to practice in," he said. "I used to lug my tape recorder to the park and the late Jack Buck [father of present Fox and Cardinals play-by-play man Joe Buck] would set me up in that booth where I'd work on my play-by-play."

Trupiano said his ears were ringing for two days after riding a duck boat in the Sox' rally Saturday.

"It was an unbelievable experience. You hear about these parades and see the clips on TV. But to be in one . . . you can't imagine what it was like.

"You realize what this team means to the region when you see all the signs saying that Grandpa can rest in peace now."

Option plays

The Sox broadcast crews are all on track to return for next season. Castiglione and TV analyst Jerry Remy already are under contract. McDonough's option for next season is being picked up. And agent Brad Blank, who represents both Trupiano and NESN play-by-play man Don Orsillo, expects deals to be done with both. "I've been told verbally that Jerry's option will be picked up," he said, "and that NESN intends to get a new deal done with Orsillo." WEEI radio program director Jason Wolfe said flatly: "Jerry will be back." . . . Orsillo, whose versatility is prized at NESN, worked the World Series as a reporter for pre- and postgame shows and called the experience awesome. "Near the end of the last game in New York, we were in the tunnel with the riot police, waiting to go on the field. The emotions and feelings were surreal. It was much different from what you feel in the broadcast booth." Orsillo will broadcast the Sox Hall of Fame Dinner Wednesday night, a show that NESN will air at a later date. He'll also represent the team on the Sox cruise with fans in January . . . At least 14 current and former Sox broadcasters are among the 174 broadcasters on the nomination list at the Baseball Hall of Fame website -- www.baseballhalloffame.org -- where the public can vote to include at least one candidate on the ballot for this year's Ford C. Frick Award to be presented at next summer's induction ceremonies. Jim Britt, Coleman, Ken Harrelson, Fred Hoey, Tom Hussey, Bob Kurtz, Martin, McDonough, Jon Miller, Bob Montgomery, Remy, Bob Starr, Trupiano, and Jim Woods are listed. Curt Gowdy already has been honored as has Bob Murphy (with the Sox from 1954-59), who was cited for his work with the Mets . . . Jeff Idelson of the Baseball Hall of Fame reminded Castiglione and Trupiano that "you were the first Sox broadcasters to call a Red Sox World Championship," a reminder that all other Sox titles came before games were carried on radio . . . A year ago, local guy Jay Leno (Channel 7) dominated the late-night battle with David Letterman (Channel 4) in Boston. Last October, the ratings gap was 4.3-2.6. This October, it's only been 3.4-3.0, with Johnny Damon's appearance Monday giving Letterman a 6.4 rating to Leno's 4.6. The Letterman rating in Boston was the show's best since a show featuring Patriots coach Bill Belichick did a 6.8 Feb. 4 . . . Sean McManus has agreed to a multiyear contract extension to remain as president of CBS Sports, a position he has held since December 1996 . . . FSN's telecast of the Celtics' opener Wednesday did a 2.3 rating.

Take two

In the end, ABC didn't hire one person to replace PGA golf analyst Curtis Strange; it hired two -- Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger. They'll join Mike Tirico tomorrow (Channel 5, noon-3:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1:30-5:30 p.m.) to call The Tour Championship . . . VCR alert: FSN will debut "Legend of Red, Part I," tomorrow at 7 p.m. The Celtics' Mike Gorman does the narration on the patriarch of Boston sports that should be part of every fan's collection . . . The Patriots, with an average rating of 30.5 (58 share), are running 35 percent ahead of last season (22.6 rating, 48 share). This year, they rank ninth overall among NFL markets, but only behind Philadelphia in the top 10 markets. Each week, the NFL tracks markets where NFL games are the highest-rated program. Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game was No. 1 in Pittsburgh (44.9 rating, 66 share), Cleveland (19.8/35), and Miami (14.5/25), but only No. 7 in Boston, trailing World Series Games 3 and 4, and also those night's pre- and postgame Series shows. The league and CBS already have the Dec. 26 Patriots-Jets games (Channel 4, 4 p.m.) highlighted as a big ratings draw . . . A preview of Sunday's Patriots-Rams game (Channel 4, 4:15 p.m.) will be the topic of "Sportsplus" today (NESN, 6:30 and 10:30 p.m.) as Globe staffers Ron Borges and Nick Cafardo, host Tim Caron, and former Patriot Tim Fox talk some football . . . Brad Feldman and former Revolution player Greg Lalas will call tomorrow's MLS Eastern Conference finals match between the Revolution and D.C. United (NESN, 7 p.m.). It's the nightcap of a NESN tripleheader that begins with Columbia-Harvard football at noon, followed by Rutgers at Boston College at 3:30 p.m. . . . CN8 does some football in its backyard at noon tomorrow: Massachusetts at Northeastern . . . CSTV (Ch. 261 on Comcast) has BU-New Hampshire as the Friday Night Hockey feature at 8. Former Patriots and present WSKO morning host Scott Zolak will call Princeton-Penn football tomorrow at 1 p.m. Sunday, the Big East women's soccer final will be live at noon. Today's semifinals (BC-Notre Dame and Villanova-UConn) will air on tape tomorrow at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Bill Griffith's e-mail address is griffith@globe.com

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