It's Sunday morning, three hours before game time, and Dan Dickerson is in the booth preparing for his first Tigers' broadcast of the spring. But not just of the spring. Of his 12th year as the radio voice of the Tigers. Dickerson doesn't begin the year with the time-honored 'voice of the turtle', as Ernie Harwell used to do. But for the last nine years, he has opened the spring with a verse written by B.J. Phillips.
"In the beginning, there was no baseball. But ever since, there have been few beginnings as good as the start of a baseball season. It is the most splendid time in sport." Said Dickerson, "I don't even know who B.J. Phillips is. But I found this saying in Time Magazine in 1980, liked it, and open every year with it."
Actually the way Dickerson opens every year is by pouring over as many handbooks as possible, making sure he has something to say about every Tiger and Tigers' prospect who might get in a spring game.
"I'm ready for all 58 of 'em," he said Sunday morning. "But there's always going to be someone from the minor-league fields across the street that you've written nothing down about. You don't like it when it happens, but it happens when all you can say is "No. 88 swings, and there's a grounder to second. . . "
Dickerson tells a great story about a colleague from another city who got into the same number-without-a-name bind that all broadcasters eventually face in spring training... Dan Dickerson muses on his 12th year as radio voice of the Tigers (Sun, 2/27)