The Angel radio network this year includes stations in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Palm Desert . . . and North Dakota?
Thank you, Darin Erstad. Satellite dishes are no longer necessary to follow North Dakota's favorite son, now that a radio station in the state carries Angel games. KSJB (600 AM) promotes itself as "the exclusive source for Darin Erstad," according to Rick Pfeiffer, station general manager.
"It's good to hear they care," Erstad said. "It's very flattering."
The KSJB signal originates in Erstad's hometown of Jamestown and extends into six states and two Canadian provinces. Pfeiffer said the Angels waived any rights fee.
"They just called up and asked if they could carry us," said Dan Patin, Angel director of broadcasting. "It's a very simple agreement: as long as Darin is here."
Said Pfeiffer: "The Angels have been angels. They thought it was the neatest connection. They told us, we won't get worked up if you don't run that ad for that car dealer in Los Angeles."
While most baseball fans in North Dakota follow the Minnesota Twins, Pfeiffer said Erstad's success is swaying some fans toward the Angels. Even folks who can't tell a home plate from a dinner plate admire Erstad, who flew home on an off day to help clean up after floods ravaged the state two years ago.
"This kid is a North Dakota hero," Pfeiffer said. "There's a sense of pride there. You have sports fans and non-sports fans. There are people that listen to Darin who ask, 'Did they get a touchdown yet?' "
The Angels have expressed interest in joining the Seattle Mariners in a 2000 season opener in Japan, Angel President Tony Tavares said.
The Mariners, under Japanese ownership, have pushed hard for the Japanese opener. Major league baseball, eager to heighten its international profile, considers the game a natural encore to this season's opener in Monterrey, Mexico, between the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies, but has yet to confirm details.
Seattle pitcher Mac Suzuki and Angel pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa are both from Japan.