‘FOMO’? Oh, no! The night Len Kasper couldn’t help but root against a Cubs no-hitter
Kasper, then the Cubs’ TV play-by-play man, was watching from home as Ted Lilly took a no-no into the ninth in 2010.
Not to be melodramatic, but Len Kasper was wracked with fear.
Fear of missing out, more specifically.
“FOMO” wasn’t even part of the lexicon yet, but Kasper was swimming in it. He was 39, in his sixth season calling Cubs games on television, and something huge was developing at Wrigley Field — where Kasper wasn’t.
“Oh, my God,” he says now, “I was going to miss it.”
It was June 13, 2010, and Cubs lefty Ted Lilly was dealing. Sox righty Gavin Floyd was dealing, too. Both pitchers had no-hitters into the seventh inning; Floyd gave up a two-out double in the bottom of the frame to Alfonso Soriano, who would be knocked in by Chad Tracy in a 1-0 victory. But Lilly took his no-no into the ninth — three outs from the first no-hitter at Wrigley since the Cubs’ Milt Pappas spun one in 1972.
The game, on ESPN, was one of 10 or so all season Kasper had off. Watching from home in Glencoe, scorebook in hand, he sat. And fretted. And got up and paced the room. And texted back and forth with broadcast partner Bob Brenly, who was experiencing much of the same thing.
All these years later, Kasper can’t admit it without laughing: As much as he was pulling for Lilly, a big part of him was desperate for a Sox hit.
“I thought, ‘Ted’s going to throw a no-hitter, and it’s going to be the first one at Wrigley since ’72, and I’m sitting at home,’ ” he says. “It’s your team — you root for your guy — but it’s very mixed feelings because when you miss a game like that? It kills you. I was rooting for Ted, but I wanted to call the next no-hitter at Wrigley.”
There is no truth to the rumor Kasper danced in the street after Juan Pierre singled to center leading off the ninth. But, sure, he felt some relief.
“Any broadcaster could understand,” he says. “I was probably 50-50 on what I wanted the outcome to be. At the end of the day, you kind of view the world through your own prism. I mean, 40,000 people at Wrigley, and I’m sitting at home?
“In the back of your mind, you’re like, ‘This can’t happen. I’m not there.’ But you realize your importance — or lack thereof — to the way things are. If you get hit by a bus today, they’re still going to play the game tomorrow.”
Kasper is now the Sox’ radio play-by-play man, in part because he didn’t want to miss out on calling any of the biggest moments. And he has missed his share. He was in the car when Cubs catcher Michael Barrett slugged Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski in 2006, in the stands for the Cubs’ division clincher against the Cardinals in 2008 and racing for the dugout to assist the Cubs’ radio broadcast when Jake Arrieta no-hit the Dodgers — lucky ESPN — in 2015. Kasper didn’t get to call Jon Lester’s walk-off squeeze bunt against the Mariners in 2016, the 18-inning game (an interleague record) against the Yankees in 2017 or David Bote’s walk-off grand slam against the Nationals in 2018.
But a Wrigley no-hitter against the Sox? An instant classic of that magnitude? The celebration in Glencoe would’ve been bittersweet.