The dream Chris Blair had on the eve of his first real day as LSU’s Voice of the Tigers involved him messing things up.
Maybe he mispronounced a name or misread the score or bungled the batting order.
It didn’t involve him forgetting to bring his scorebook to Alex Box Stadium.
So what did he do Friday? He forgot to bring his scorebook to Alex Box Stadium.
“I already committed one error,” a smiling Blair said.
LSU opened the 2016 baseball season Friday against Cincinnati on a crisp, cloudless night.
There was another debut some 50 feet above home plate. The 41-year-old Blair began his career as the Voice of the Tigers, replacing longtime play-by-play man Jim Hawthorne.
“Hello, everybody!” he boomed, some of his first words in the 30-minute pregame radio broadcast.
“The seal is broken,” Blair joked off the air, during the first commercial break.
“Sounded good, buddy,” Doug Thompson, the new color analyst and a former LSU pitcher, told Blair.
For this self-proclaimed radio-station rat, it has been a long time coming. Blair grew up hanging in his father’s Kentucky radio stations, held small roles in radio stations in South Carolina and spent the past decade as play-by-play announcer at Georgia Southern.
LSU announced his hiring in June, and he arrived in Baton Rouge in December — two months before opening day, his first true call.
That came at 7:07 p.m. Friday. Cincinnati left fielder R.J. Thompson swatted at LSU lefty Jared Poché’s first pitch of the game — and the season — popping up a fastball to center field.
“Smoked high into the air!” Blair yelled. “Jake Fraley’s got a bead on it.”
And, with that, Blair slipped into Hawthorne’s shoes. Hawthorne is scheduled to complete the men’s basketball season before retiring after more than 30 years. Blair takes over calling football and men’s basketball in the fall.
Blair came prepared Friday — well, except for that scorebook.
Seated in the chair Hawthorne occupied, Blair’s spread was before him: a roll of Scotch tape, his headsets, an iPad (he keeps score on that as well), stacks of stats and notes, self-made lineup cards (he has used the same ones for a decade), a black binder with advertisement readings, binoculars and that thick scorebook.
Wait, the scorebook made it?
“You going to give him some ink?” he asked a reporter, pointing to Brad Morales, an account executive at LSU.
About an hour before first pitch, Morales drove the short distance from Alex Box Stadium across Nicholson Drive to Blair’s office to retrieve the scorebook. Morales arrived to find Blair’s office door ajar.
“See,” Blair said, “I left in a hurry. Just ran out.”
Ah, opening night. Things didn’t go perfectly — and they never do, right?
Blair arrived at the stadium at about 4:15 p.m. and spent the first 30 minutes devising a plan to get game passes to his family. About an hour later, wife Amber and children Crafton and Rivers made it inside for what eventually evolved into a jam-packed Alex Box.
It was Blair’s first LSU baseball experience. He had only heard stories from friends.
Those friends have turned into needy friends as of late.
“Everyone I know texted me, ‘If I come to Baton Rouge, can you get me tickets? It’s on my bucket list,’ ” Blair said, smiling.
Blair hopes his father will make it in for a game one day. For now, Pop will have to make do with listening to his son. Steve Blair planned to listen to Friday’s game from his car parked in his garage, the dial tuned to WWL.
“Old radio guy,” Chris said, laughing.
The Blair family is oh so familiar with WWL. Blair’s grandfather, a coal engineer, fell asleep many nights with that station buzzing on his leather-bound RCA AM radio.
In the next room, Blair’s dad listened in, too.
“My dad could remember listening to WWL every night as a kid,” Blair said. “He’d always say that he was amazed that he was seated in the mountains of eastern Kentucky and people in New Orleans were talking to him.”
Now here’s his son, an hour northwest, his booming voice filling those same airways, his father still listening intently.
“I wouldn’t trade it,” Chris said, “for the world.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.