Rick Tittle is the weekend host of A's Talk, spelling Chris Townsend. CT only worked a year and a half before the powers that be realized that perhaps it was a bit too much work for one man to handle, as epic as CT is. Tittle is a man of many talents and many loves--mainly revolving around East Bay sports.
Last weekend, while attending a game with wacchampion, thefamousralph and Jorge and the Green Stampede, who should come visit the boys but Rick Tittle. He sat and talked with us for a few innings and I came to realize that I like him. He's clearly an East Bay product.
Not only do I regularly agree with his opinions on the A's, he's one of us. He's an A's fan, AN. And he was nice enough to sit down and answer some questions for us.
Rick appears tonight on Chronicle Live tonight, so be sure to check it out!
Leopold Bloom: Rick, you've admitted several times to having grown up an A's fan. Please expand upon this for AN. What was the first game you remember attending? How did your love for the A's come about?
Rick Tittle: I was born at Richmond Hospital (since torn down) in 1965 and my first house was on Morecambe Street in Oakland. My Dad went to Fremont High in Oakland and my grandmother was also born in Oakland. My great-grandfather came directly from Muenster, Germany to Oakland and made all the stained glass you see in Oakland, such as in St. Elizabeth's Church. There used to be some of his stained glass at the King's X but now it's called the Kona Club and a fake volcano is there instead. So as you can see, the Town is in my blood.
I honestly don't remember my first game because I went as a little kid and all the years on up, but I do remember those fantastic World Series teams ('72-'74). One game my Dad caught a Sal Bando foul ball, and unlike today (where it would go into a plastic cube), my brothers and I beat the heck out of it at the sandlots.
LB: What are your best memories of attending A's games and who were some of your favorite players?
Tittle: I love the clinching games with the dogpiles. I love the walk-off dingers, and I was lucky enough to see Saenz beat Nen and Scutaro beat Rivera in such a fashion. I loved heckling Chet Lemon, Carlton Fisk, and all the others who were rabbit ears. Ozzie Guillen was one and so was the immortal Cecil Espy. I liked the old Safeway BBQ's in the south lot. I loved watching BP in the old bleachers. Too many great memories to write down, really.
My favorites were Campy, Rudi and Bando in the early years. Obviously we all loved Rickey during Billy Ball. But my favorite all-time is Canseco with Kingman a close second, and probably Stew third. If you ever suffered through the years of Jackie Moore and Steve Boras, it was Canseco who put us back on the map. I'll always love him despite his lack of social intellect. I always wear #33 on my softball teams and always will.
LB: I've heard you say you're a fan of the Coliseum. You might feel alone in that, but I know at least a handful of my friends (myself included) who feel the same way. Tell us what you love about the Coliseum.
Tittle: Best stadium ever. I've been lucky enough to see a few, and I will never change my opinion on this. Convenience, weather, sightlines, tradition, history...still to this day, I cannot believe I can just walk right out onto the field and sit in either dugout during BP. I'm a fan who got a radio show, not just some career broadcaster who doesn't give a hoot. Anyone who hates the Coliseum can kiss my butt.
LB: You didn't start off being in front of the microphone, right? How did you become a radio talk show host?
Tittle: I always figured myself to be a writer, and I've been lucky to be the editor of my college newspaper and a longtime columnist for European Soccer Weekly. But after three years as a History major, I switched to Communications for my last 2 years and got my BA in 1988 from SMC.
Despite being a radio dj in college and doing play-by-play for the basketball team, I never aspired to be "talent", as it is ridiculously called. I worked ten years as a technical director for SportsChannel and Fox Sports, doing countless A's, Giants, Warriors, and Sharks games.
When the compressed digital age came and they moved all of the network mastercontrols to one facility in Long Island, I declined the offer to move to New York and decided to try something else. I have no desire to leave this market, no matter what the opportunity.
Anyway, I began producing radio shows for Ron Barr at SportsByline in 1999 (we had know each other since I worked on his tv show in 1989) and eventually became part of the management set-up there. In 2003, when Sirius Satellite was new, they were begging us for content. My boss Ken Dennis suggested I do a weekly camping show, just to help out. When I told him I hated camping, he recommended a sports talk show since Sirius had few at that time. I agreed on the basis that I could have carte blanche and do whatever I liked with the show, and he agreed. I did a lot of comedy bits (well, they were funny to me) and Ken told me that I was a "natural" and should do a more legit show. Eight years later, I'm still on the air. Go figure.
LB: You were born and raised in the East Bay? In Richmond? And you graduated from St. Mary's--what's your relationship with the Bay Area?
Tittle: Born in Richmond, as I mentioned. Grew up mostly in the El Cerrito area. Summers at the cabin at Tahoe, or Europe if we were lucky. Livelong resident. Not going anywhere else.
Jr. High and High School in Richmond, college at St. Mary's. About as east bay as you can get, I suppose.
LB: You played both football and lacrosse (you and Jim Brown...and Bunk Moreland) at St. Mary's--were these the sports you loved the most or were these the sports you were best at? Tell us a bit about your time there, as an athlete.
Tittle: I used to call myself "the Jim Brown" of St. Mary's which just made everyone laugh. I loved football, but my best sports were probably tennis and soccer. But tennis and soccer were just hobbies, football was life. The Raiders were the kings of my childhood, an impression that is indelible. I was a good athlete at Salesian High School, and played football, basketball, baseball, soccer and was also the #1 tennis player. I was not a star football player at St. Mary's College...but I did make the traveling team (they only took half the team on the road). As for lacrosse, I originally had no interest in it but needed an excuse to get out of off-season football weightlifting, the most boring and useless activity in the world. My roommate was starting the club sport and for two years I stood in front of the crease and impaled anyone who got close with a five-foot long Crooked Arrow stick made out of hickory. Now when the lacrosse team has their annual dinner, they welcome me back as one the Founding Fathers of the program, which is really nice.
LB: I know as far as watching sports/being a fan, you share Billy Beane's love of soccer. Tell us about your passion for soccer.
Tittle: I've forgotten more about soccer than Billy Beane knows about soccer. It began with many trips to Europe growing up, as I have relatives in Germany and Denmark. But it was the 1982 World Cup that got me hooked. I was so upset that the USA couldn't qualify! My love of Tottenham Hotspur began in the late 80's and I became a full member in 1991 when foreign membership became allowed, which was the first English team to do this. I used to listen on short-wave radio and buy two-day-old British tabloids to get the results in England.
I also spent all of my vacation time in 1994 working as a volunteer at the World Cup at Stanford in the media center next to Stanford Stadium. I had already purchased tickets to all five games there. It was the best time of my life, those weeks, for sure. I met so many famous journalists and players. I got to wear FIFA uniforms made by adidas. The only thing to make it better was if USA could have beaten Brazil there on the Fourth of July.
My relationship with my soccer newspaper has allowed me to visit some of the great stadia in England, from Old Trafford to the original Wembley Stadium. I also went to Germany for the World Cup in 2006 and saw the USA lose to the Czech Republic in Gelsenkirchen. Additionally, I'm an official 1906 Ultra, which is cool since I've supported that team since it was the Blackhawks and the Clash, and I attended the first-ever MLS game. I could write 1,000 pages on soccer, but I'll spare you. Just know that I have more knowledge about the Premiership than I do about the NFL or MLB. It is my passion, for sure.
LB: Several of us were fans of your show on 860. You currently do some shows other than the weekend A's Talk on 95.7. Tell AN about your work with Sports Byline and how they can find you.
Tittle: I still do my daily show from 10:00am-noon, which has some affiliates but locally you have to go online at www.sportsbyline.com to listen or use your smartphone with the TuneIn or WunderRadio app. And if you like video games, I do the only nationally-syndicated show on that topic every Sunday night at 9:00pm on SportsByline USA, as well. At 95.7 The Game, I do the pre and post-games for the A's on weekends and fill-in duty for other hosts. Perhaps that role will grow in the future.
I do want to thank everyone for their support. It is humbling to know that some people out there like what I do and I truly appreciate it.