One is born and still resides in Canada and is, in the opinion of many of us, one of the very best broadcasters on either side of the border. The other is an American who for the longest time provided the background to many a summer afternoon across our country - the man gave us 'El Presidente, el perfecto!"
ESPN's Dan Shulman and the voice of the Florida Marlins, Dave Van Horne, shared similar sentiments Saturday night as they prepared to work a game in which Barry Bonds could conceivably tie Hank Aaron's career home run record. Both of them called Bonds' 754th career homer on Friday night, which moved the San Francisco Giants slugger to within one of Aaron heading into Saturday night's second game of a three-game series against the Florida Marlins.
"I don't know exactly what I'm going to say but I can guarantee you it's going to be short and sweet and to the point," said Shulman, who is scheduled to call a game in Anaheim Sunday but is prepared for a last-second change and for possible future assignments next week. "I always said if I'm there I'm there, if I'm not, I'm not. I think I'm in the majority who feel that he enhanced himself to get to this point, so I doubt the authenticity of the accomplishment to a certain extent. But it is history; it's not a celebration except here in San Francisco but it is history."
Shulman said that he has nothing scripted for the possibility. That's no surprise. One of Shulman's several strengths is the ability to be spontaneous. "I don't have a home run call," he said with a shrug, as he leaned against a railing watching the Giants take batting practice. "It's just me. I can't morph into something I'm not and I think if I tried to do it at this particular moment it would be very foolish.
"But I have thought - for the first time in my life - just a bit about what I'll say. The good thing is, if it happens here, the pictures will tell the story."
For his part, Van Horne - still the voice of the Expos in the mind of Canadians of a certain age - has covered a perfect game by Dennis Martinez, Tony Gwynn's 3,000th hit (collected in Montreal) and a World Series win by the Marlins. Martinez's perfect game will always be his proudest on-air moment, he said.
Unlike Shulman, as Van Horne studied his game notes and prepared his scorebook for last night's game he already knew what he would say in the event Bonds tied or even broke Aaron's record. It's not so much it was scripted, he said, as thought out in advance. "I did the same thing with Dennis' perfect game," he said. "Around the eighth inning, when it became obvious there was a real chance it would happen, I started thinking how I would call it.
"Ken Singleton [Van Horne's Expos broadcast partner, who is now with the New York Yankees]and I still talk about that moment. We're both proud of how we handled it, because we let the moment speak for itself."
Most of the attention is and will be focused on how the Giants home broadcast crew, especially Jon Miller, handles Bonds' historic blasts. But in this day of instant communications, everybody working the game knows their description will become part of the historical record. Think back to the homer struck by Aaron that broke Babe Ruth's record, struck off the Los Angeles Dodgers Al Downing. Of all the words spoken and written, it was the call by Vin Scully - the visiting radio broadcaster - that best stood the test of time.
"What a marvelous moment for baseball," Scully said. "What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting an ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol. And it is a great moment for all of us, and particularly for Henry Aaron."
How ironic - and fitting - that with the Giants due to play three games at Dodger Stadium starting on Tuesday, Scully might once again get to call homer history. But in the meantime, here is how Marlins listeners will hear No. 756 if it happens this weekend.
"I can tell you what I will say," said Van Horne, whose description of homer 754 on Friday was "Bonds, under a cloud of suspicion, has a bright moment at AT&T.'"
"Usually I'll let the game write the script, but I have given thought to 755 and 756," said Van Horne. "If for example I should have the call on 756, I will say: 'Bonds has hit 756, one more than baseball's all-time home run king, Henry Aaron.'"
That's not accidental, because Van Horne said candidly that until it's proven otherwise, he believes there's enough evidence to consider Bonds' total tainted - that Aaron will still be the one and only home run king. There will be an interesting dynamic at work in the Marlins booth because Van Horne's young broadcast partner, Roxy Bernstein, grew up in the Bay area and idolized Bonds.
"I think it's tainted," Van Horne said. "I'm not a fan of an asterisk, but I don't think there's any question that it's tainted.
"I have great respect for what Aaron did throughout his career, on natural ability - strength and great eyesight and quick wrists and all of those things that made him a wonderful hitter and power hitter and great respect for how he did it," Van Horne said, continuing.
"I know nothing's been proven in the case of Bonds, but I just think that there's enough there to know that he has done some things to enhance his performance - perhaps to lengthen his career - and in my opinion has done some things that are outside the bounds of what is legal and illegal. In a moral sense, without getting into all the various definitions of steroids and human growth hormone - I have no idea what he's done - but I think it's clear to most everybody that he's done something to help the cause that others haven't done.
"So that's where I have a problem with it. I don't think there's any doubt that he's a remarkable baseball player. But I have trouble seeing him as the all-time home run king. I think until I become convinced otherwise, I'll continue to see Henry Aaron as the all-time home run king."