He doesn't need eyes to be Sox's voice

SPORTS PLUS

February 10, 1993

When Don Wardlow talks about baseball, it's hard to believe he's never seen a game -- even though he's been to thousands of them.

It's even harder to believe that Wardlow is a color commentator for radio broadcasts of baseball games.

"Just listen once, and you'll be absolutely amazed," said Jim Lucas, who has been broadcasting baseball games with Wardlow since their college days. "I mean -- he's so good."

Wardlow's also blind.

But this spring, Wardlow and Lucas will be the voices of the New Britain Red Sox -- the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox -- on Bristol, Conn., radio station WBIS.

Wardlow, 29, blind since birth, had dreamed of becoming a baseball announcer since college.

"It was never sympathy I was looking for. It was the chance to do the ultimate job," Wardlow said. "And now, I've got the ultimate job."

Wardlow's dream began in 1983, when he met Lucas at Glassboro State College in New Jersey. Wardlow said he decided he wanted to work with Lucas after hearing him announce baseball games on the college radio station.

"I said: 'Jim, are you up for a challenge? Would you work with a blind person?' And he said yes," Wardlow recalled. "And that was the most important yes I had heard because it opened up a whole new world for me."

Wardlow and Lucas did a few games for the college station before graduating. Then, from 1984 to 1989, they practiced by broadcasting major-league games into a tape recorder from their stadium seats.

They got their first break when Mike Veeck -- son of well-known baseball promoter Bill Veeck -- hired them in 1990 to announce for his Miami Miracle of the Florida State League.

"We've been doing this for 10 years together," Lucas, 30, said. "We know each other's style. We know each other's sense of humor."

Lucas and Wardlow moved to New Britain in November with Chuck Manka, former media director for the Miracle, to become familiar with the Britsox and sell advertising spots for the games, which was part of the agreement with WBIS.

To prepare for the games, Wardlow has been relying on Lucas and Manka, who read updated statistics and stories to Wardlow or into a tape recorder.

For a visual description of the game, Wardlow relies on Lucas.

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