Mike and Mike Strike At Progressive Field
By Mike Brandyberry
Only one of them was born in Cleveland, but the town is becoming home for both Mike and Mike.
Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, co-hosts of ESPN Radio’s morning show Mike and Mike in the Morning, were at Progressive Field on Tuesday evening to throw out the first pitch before the Indians and White Sox matched up. The duo currently is broadcasting their show from Progressive Field this morning for the third year in a row.
Golic is a native of Willowick, Ohio, who attended St. Joseph High School (now Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School) before playing football at Notre Dame and completing an eight-year career in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins and Houston Oilers. After his playing career, he became an analyst at ESPN and eventually the co-host of the morning show.
He often touts his Cleveland pride on the air, proudly discussing his Cleveland Indians.
“I grew up an Indians fan, way, way back in the Buddy Bell days, later on in the Hargrove days and (in the days of) Joe Charboneau,” Golic said. “The team wasn’t great, but they certainly had some players.”
The Golic family always has been fans of all Cleveland sports growing up, but rarely attended games. “I’ll be honest, we didn’t come to a lot of games, or any pro games,” he said. “We were so wrapped up in doing our own thing, we didn’t go to a lot of games. We listened on the radio or watched on TV.”
The Golic family has a deep NFL history, with Mike’s brothers Bob and Greg also having professional careers. Mike and Mike in the Morning has been visiting Cleveland for eight years, and each year Mike Golic’s two brothers join him on set and contribute to the show. Bob is a local Cleveland legend, a former Cleveland Brown of the 1980s.
The two Mikes visited Heritage Park before Tuesday’s game. Greenberg was impressed by the Tribe history and recalled several memories of yesteryear.
“My father grew up a Yankees fan,” Greenberg said. “But he loved Bob Feller, so I was looking at some of the Bob Feller stuff, which was great.”
Greenberg was quick to note the significance and importance of Indian legend Larry Doby, noting his accomplishments as the first African American in the American League. Doby broke the American League’s color barrier just six weeks after Jackie Robinson in the National League. Greenberg had his picture taken with Doby’s monument.
“I think Larry Doby the most significant figure in baseball history that no one knows anything about,” he said.
While Greenberg’s family grew up in New York as Yankee fans and appreciates the history of baseball, his son Steven’s love of baseball — and tie to the Indians — has been discussed on the show. Steven, like his father, is a Yankee fan and in 2007 attended his first Major League baseball game, a Yankees-Indians contest in Yankee Stadium.
On the cold April afternoon, with the Indians winning, Greenberg decided to leave the game in the seventh inning to beat traffic and take his tired son home. Two innings later, Steven’s favorite player, Alex Rodriguez, hit a game-winning homer while Steven slept in car in New York City traffic. Greenberg has never told his son what he missed.
“That story is in our book, and he’s now old enough to read the book,” Greenberg said. “He has a copy of the book in his room. I’m just waiting for him to say something to me. It hasn’t happen yet. It could happen any day.”
Tuesday evening was the fifth time the duo has thrown out a first pitch at a Major League game. Greenberg has had much better success than his professional athlete counterpart. Golic bounced his first two attempts to the catcher.
“Golic bounced several, including here in Cleveland,” Greenberg said. “What happened was there was a fairly lengthy rain delay. They just put us in the dugout. Eric Wedge was the manager of the Indians of the time, and I think he got in Golic’s head. I don’t even think it reach the dirt. I think it landed in the grass.”
Meanwhile Greenberg has a strategy to make sure he never bounces a ceremonial first pitch. “To me, this is like a birdie putt,” he said. “I’ll run it six feet by the hole; I’m not leaving it short. I don’t get enough of those. I’m throwing this ball as far as I can, and hopefully someone behind the plate will catch it.”
Both Golic and Greenberg’s throws reached the plate and found the glove Tuesday evening.
The Mikes continued their stay in Ohio this morning, conducting their show on the right field concourse from 6 to 10 a.m. before returning to their Bristol, Conn., studio.
While not one of the more than 50 ESPN analysts picked the Indians to make the American League playoffs before the season began, Golic remains faithful his team can remain in first place and continues to remind his colleagues.
“That’s why we always ask our analysts when they come on if they can keep it going,” Golic said. “Right now the starters are going a decent distance and not wearing out the bullpen so things are setting up nicely.”
Despite the Tuesday evening loss to the White Sox, if the Tribe keeps playing consistent baseball, maybe Golic will have to return in October to support his team and its history in the playoffs.
Video: Matthew Van Wormer