Q&A with Charlie Slowes
Voice of Nats reflects on Opening Day '05, 'Bang Zoom' origin
Charlie Slowes has been the voice of the Nationals since the team moved to Washington three years ago.
Recently, Slowes sat down with MLB.com to discuss his signature "Bang Zoom" call, how the Internet changes his preparation for games, and some of his favorite moments in the broadcasting booth at RFK Stadium.
MLB.com: What are your thoughts on the season so far?
Slowes: Well, it's an exciting time right now, with the First-Year Player Draft coming up this week. You know there were fans that were disappointed to see how the money was spent on the field this year, but a lot of money was invested in the organization to try to rebuild this team and jump-start it. With all the picks they have early in the Draft, we may see some vast improvement in this organization. So it's an exciting time to be here, and with a new stadium next year, its all good.
MLB.com: This is your second year working with Dave Jageler. What's he like in the booth?
Slowes: We get along great. We have a lot of fun on the air. We entertain each other in addition to trying to entertain the audience. It clicked with us right away to where we could finish each other's sentences. We're laughing before the punchline is delivered.
MLB.com: How do you go about preparing for a game?
Slowes: That's a long answer. I'll start by reading up on the other team and making notes. A lot of work is done the first time you play a team. You fill in your scorebook, then spend time down on the field talking to people, making sure you're up-to-date on everything going on with both clubs.
It's getting familiar with people on your club and the other club, then putting in your scorebook the sort of thing you'd like to have available at a moment's notice. With the Internet and everything that's available now, you could spend every waking second preparing, so its just a matter of how much time you want to put into it. The old-school guys do less, because they're used to not having all that available to them.
MLB.com: Where did the "Bang Zoom" call come from?
Slowes: The "Bang Zoom" to me is really like a line from the old "Honeymooners" show, but it just came about from the fireworks that would go off. In 2005, when they had that great month of June and won 20 games and had a 10-game winning streak, they had these fireworks that went off after the games -- and they'd go bang and then zoom off.
MLB.com: You're also known for describing victories as "Curly W's."
Slowes: The first year, we were talking during the winning streak and saying "Another win, another W for the Nats," and then I said, "Or in this case, you could call them curly W's." I did it that night and then did it for the next 10 games, and when I didn't do it, people would e-mail and write in and ask why I didn't do it. Then in 2006, when I quit doing it, people wrote in and complained again, so it's here to stay. And that's the logo that is going to be prominent in the new ballpark, so I don't know if I had anything to do with pushing the brand, but if so, great.
MLB.com: How do you deal with working every game of a 162-game season?
Slowes: I've been doing it a long time, so you get used to it. It does wear on you working every day -- we only take off the days the team does. You take two or three weeks when the season ends to do virtually nothing, and then enjoy the time with the family. I have two boys that are 13 and 9 now, so it's harder and harder to be separated from the family, but we try to make the most of the time we have together during the offseason.
MLB.com: You worked for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before joining the Nats. What similarities and differences do you see between the teams?
Slowes: That was an expansion organization from the ground up. This was different, because the first couple years here, you had people and players who were in the organization in Montreal. It was completely different in Tampa Bay. They tried to build early on through the Draft and the farm system, and made a little plunge into the free-agent market the third year to bump the payroll up to $60 million, and it didn't really work.
They had some bad luck with some players they drafted that never materialized or got injured. Now I think they're starting to see it come to fruition with the players they've drafted. People think that organization doesn't have any pitching. Maybe at the Major League level they're weak, but they're going to have some, and they've got an abundance of talented position players and outfielders. You hope it wouldn't take 10 years, but that's really what it has been for them.
MLB.com: What's your favorite memory from the past three years?
Slowes: The first pitch in '05. I don't know if anything will ever top that. Seeing people come into the park that night for the return of baseball after 33 years. Aside from that, I would say Ryan Zimmerman's home run off of Chien-Ming Wang, a walk-off home run to beat the Yankees 3-2 (on June 18, 2006). It was sold out and the place just erupted. I don't know if anything's been better than that, to have that type of crowd and that type of finish to the game. Then, two weeks later, he had a walk-off hit to beat the Marlins. So that was a nice little run there.
Michael Phillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.