CLEVELAND — Like everything else right now, this baseball season will be very different because of COVID-19.
3News’ Dave Chudowsky had the chance to talk to Tom Hamilton—the "Voice of the Indians" for three decades—about those changes, what's next for the team and what he'll miss most during this season.
"I'll tell you, listening to you year after year, one thing you say all the time is 'Anything can happen in baseball,'" Dave said. "But boy, in a million years, I bet you never guessed opening day in July."
"No, that's a great point," Tom laughs. "I haven't even looked at the forecast. I probably should, just to see if rain is in it."
Hamilton also talked about how the energy of the home opener will be very different this year, without thousands of fans downtown.
"In a lot of ways, it almost feels like a holiday," he explained. "Everyone's excited about their baseball team, because everyone's unbeaten at that point. So yeah, you really miss the pageantry and the vibe that you have in downtown Cleveland on opening day."
Tom believes the team has handled the changes as well as it can, and that the players are excited to get back on the field.
"I think the organization has done a great job," he said. "The thing that's really been impressive is how the players have grasped this, and instead of saying 'Woe is me,' they're having fun with it."
Of course, Tribe fans have been missing baseball, but they’ve also been missing the sound of Hammy’s voice. The longtime broadcaster and his family have had to find their own ways to cope, as well.
"I know one person that's tired of hearing my voice is my wife, Wendy," Tom chuckled. "You know, she's like, 'Really, when's the season starting?' But no, we've we've had a great time."
Tom shared he hopes fans have been able to use this time to become closer with their families, as well.
"I hope a lot of families have reconnected and appreciate that time together," he said, "because sometimes we get so busy in our lives that we sometimes forget what's really important."
So what has it been like calling games without fans in attendance so far?
"Doing the games, I thought that would be a bigger deal," Hamilton admitted. "Once the game gets going, you kind of feel like you're back to normal."
But there are moments when he misses the noise and energy of the crowd.
"As the game is building to dramatic moments, you miss that anticipation of the crowd," he explained.
Especially when a hitter really connects with the ball.
"You know how people start to come up out of their seats, to see if it's gone?" he asked. "I miss that part of it, and you miss playing off the crowd."
Another big change this year is that Hamilton will not travel to away games. Instead, he’ll be at Progressive Field for those contests, watching on three different monitors.
"This is how you keep the players and the coaches and the manager and everybody else safe," he said.
As for the postseason, Dave had one question: "How do you think they're going to do this year? I know there are so many obstacles in the way, but I mean, is this a team that could finally get it done and win the World Series?"
To Tom, it's anyone's guess.
"This is going to be the most unpredictable season," he said. "One of the beauties of our game is that, unlike some sports where it seems like every year you know the two or three teams that are going to be in the championship game, that never seems to be the case in baseball."