Duke Castiglione used to play catch with the old guy who
was his father's partner, a fascinating fellow who regaled him with ancient
tales and could throw harder than a 60-something should.
"He taught me a lot about World War II," Castiglione said more than a
quarter-century later. "A lot more than I ever learned in school."
Duke, then 9, eventually learned something else.
"I didn't know Bob was one of the greatest pitchers of all time," he said.
That's Bob as in Feller, who broadcast Indians games alongside Duke's dad,
Joe Castiglione, in the early 1980s.
Nice perk for a young fan and player. But that was only the start, and an
education that indirectly led to his current life as Ch. 5's lead sportscaster.
By age 10, Duke was working in the visiting locker room at Fenway Park,
where Joe was beginning a run on the Red Sox broadcast team that is in its 25th
The gig provided a trove of stories, from serving Billy Martin his postgame
meal of Salisbury steak and rice to getting thrown in a hamper by George Bell
to watching Tom Seaver change shirts after every inning on a hot night.
"Being around it, you see these guys have problems just like anybody else
in the world," said Duke, 35. "Some are real nice guys. Some aren't so nice."
For example ... "Ted was very nice to me." Ted? That would be Ted Williams.
"It's like being a ballplayer's kid," Joe said. "You're comfortable in the
environment and you are not awestruck.
"I was awestruck when I started out. It took me a long time to work up the
nerve to ask Ted Williams for an interview when he was managing the Senators."
Naturally, Duke grew up a Red Sox fan, which makes for a peculiar dynamic
when the team faces the marquee franchise in his adopted town, as it will over
the holiday weekend.
But not as weird as for his father, who grew up in Connecticut as ... a
"I always wanted to work in New York," Joe said. "Mel Allen and Mickey
Mantle were my heroes ... I loved the Yankees, everything about them."
Joe obviously is in no position to root for the Yankees these days. He
forever will be associated with the Bosox, most famously as narrator of the
historic moment when they won the 2004 World Series.
"Oh-four was a miracle, and about ending curses and winning one for your
deceased relatives and all the tears and passions and emotion," Joe said.
"Oh-seven was about being the best team in baseball."
Spoken like a pillar of Red Sox Nation.
Joe, 61, still loves Yankee Stadium despite "probably the most
uncomfortable broadcast booth" in the league. But he dreads those "grinders"
the teams usually play.
"They last so long, they might as well start every count at 3-and-2," he
Before he turned to TV, Duke was a good catcher who played at Stonehill
College in Easton, Mass., and had a powerful arm. It didn't hurt that he worked
with Red Sox catcher Tony Pe�a in the early '90s.
But soon enough, he turned to the family business.
"Obviously, he had some doors open because of the genes, but you still have
to earn your keep," Joe said. "It's like a ballplayer who might be scouted
because your father was a player."
Duke's real name is Joe. But the family didn't want to call him Junior.
Said his father: "'Duke' sounded like a ballplayer."
PSLs cause a stir
No New York-area team has a season ticket base as entrenched as that of the
Giants, which makes the team's decision to use personal seat licenses to help
fund its new stadium particularly emotional.
PSLs always - and understandably - anger fans, but what makes the Giants'
situation unusual is that many multi-decade ticket-holders have excellent seats
based on seniority, seats that until now have been priced below market value.
Those locations' PSL and ticket prices are going to be beyond the means of
many fans who currently occupy them, and will cause tectonic shifts in the
seating chart in the transition to a new building.
When the dust settles, the crowds likely will be richer and younger, and
perhaps more energetic.
But pieces of the franchise's institutional memory can't help but be lost