Q&A: San Francisco Giants fans’ favorite therapist

Name: Marty Lurie
Age: 68
City: Berkeley and Mesa, Ariz.
Position: San Francisco Giants radio show host

J.: As the talk show host on KNBR Radio before and after Giants games every weekend, how did you feel after the team won its third World Series in five years?

Marty Lurie: It’s incredible. I feel like I’m a part of it. I’m on the air for so many hours, 15 to 16 every weekend during the baseball season. It gives me a unique opportunity to connect with fans and to take a look at the whole season, the big picture, and see baseball as a mosaic, how all the pieces connect. That’s what I talk to the fans about.

Many of them are so invested in the team that if something doesn’t go well for three or four weeks, they think it’s over. But my voice is different. I’m always looking at the big picture. Sometimes I’m like their therapist.

Marty Lurie

J.: You, and your family, had your own car in the Oct. 31 victory parade. What was that like?

ML: Sitting with my children in that car, going down Market Street, with hundreds of thousands of people yelling my name and all of my catchphrases — “That’s baseball,” “It’s a long season,” “Baseball is a mosaic” — I was touched beyond belief.

But the biggest thrill for me is getting a World Series ring. I’m not an employee of the Giants, but they recognize me for my contributions to the game of baseball and what I do for their fan base. I can’t believe I have a World Series ring, two, and that I’m going to get a third. Oh, and this past season the Giants also gave out a bobblehead of me. A bobblehead! These things are all validations for my life in baseball.

J.: Life? Actually, you were an attorney in San Francisco until 1995, defending the accused in more than 100 homicide cases and 3,500 criminal cases overall. Did you just snap your fingers and switch careers?

ML: I was going through the burnout of being involved in the law profession for 25 years, and I got to a point where I could not do it anymore. It took me about a year to figure out what to do. Someone encouraged me to go to A’s games and be on the radio. I ended up doing a show on a tiny station in El Cerrito, KECG (88.1), interviewing ballplayers and baseball people as they came through Oakland and San Francisco. It was all just trial and error, but the late sportswriter Leonard Koppett mentored and encouraged me, as did the late, great A’s announcer Bill King.

Having come to this level where I’m at now — I think I’m dreaming. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.

J.: Would you say you are a “Jewish kid” from Brooklyn?

ML: It was convoluted. My father died when I was 4, and then about six years later we moved to Miami Beach, where my mom became involved in founding Temple Ner Tamid. That’s when my Jewish education started: I went to Hebrew school, got bar mitzvahed, put on tefillin. But after 14 or so, even though I always loved the traditions of Judaism, my involvement fell off.

However, my kids went to Tehiyah Day School and Camp Tawonga, and all three of them have Jewish homes; every one of them has a love of Judaism, along with a love of baseball, and a college education. Those are my greatest achievements.

J.: You must have at least one good Jewish-Brooklyn story. Can you recall any?

ML: I do remember this from 1955. In the New York school system, if you were Jewish, you could get out of school on Wednesday afternoons for religious instruction. I’d go to the temple on East 37th Street, where I lived, and the rabbi would tell us stories of Abraham and Isaac and Purim and Hanukkah. I’d love hearing those stories, just as I love that baseball is such a storytelling game. Then, one of those days was a game in the 1955 World Series between the Dodgers and Yankees. I skipped religious school that day to go home and watch the game.

J.: You’ve given baseball talks at synagogues in Burlingame, Los Altos Hills, Vallejo and elsewhere. Does a common theme crop up?

ML: What’s incredible is the connection of the stories of baseball, and the game of baseball, to the Jewish way of life and the Torah and the teachings of Judaism. We can find so many parallels. The rabbis love connecting baseball and Judaism, and I really love doing those kinds of programs.

J.:  This season, the Giants had an amazing 43-21 record on June 8, then went into the toilet, losing 36 of their next 56 games. And you never gave up on them?

ML: In June, we were talking about them being one of the greatest teams in Giants history. So I explained to the fans that it was like having money in the bank. Even though they used up most of that money, they were never out of it.

J.: Still, hopes weren’t high going into October. What happened?

ML: They looked like an entirely different team than the Giants of July and August. Experience matters, and experience brought this team to a completely different level. They did everything better than the opposition: pitching, defense, hitting, decisions by the manager. Also, the Dodgers got knocked out, and I thought they were going to be the Giants’ biggest threat.

J.:  What about Pablo Sandoval, who’s now a free agent? Will the Giants re-sign the “Panda”?

ML: The marketplace will dictate his future. If the big-money teams go after him, they generally get their man, but because of his weight and physical issues, maybe — even though he has become one of the greatest World Series hitters of all-time — maybe his price comes back to a market price that the Giants feel is adequate, and they sign him. I’d put it at 50-50.

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Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr was J.’s managing editor and Hardly Strictly Bagels columnist until he retired in 2016 to travel and live abroad. He and his wife have a home base in Mexico, where he continues his dalliance with Jewish journalism.