The shuttle bus rolled close to the Solana Beach shores, with someone beaming with pride eager to greet it.
“I love it here,” said a voice that sounded more familiar than it should.
The pipes belonged to Josh Lewin. Yeah, that Josh Lewin who called Chargers football for 12 years before they headed to Los Angeles.
Lewin can paint a picture with his words, but for once, he was speechless when looking west toward the ocean.
So goes it for the North Coast rookie and we can’t blame him for being overwhelmed. Lewin is new to our slice of paradise and what’s with the open-mouth look again?
“I grew up in Buffalo,” he said.
Enough said and welcome to town, Josh. After not getting an RSVP from the Chargers, you’re always welcome in our neck of the woods.
The Chargers elected against having the classy Lewin on the mic when testing the City of Angels waters.
“I would have loved to be there to shove the boat off the dock,” he said. “But they decided they wanted someone with more of an L.A. presence.”
Think the Bolts realize Lewin calls UCLA football and basketball?
Even minus the NFL gig, Lewin is busy.
Lewin does radio play-by-play for the New York Mets, too. When the Mets were in San Diego recently, Lewis brought his colleagues over to see amazing Solana Beach.
“I love it here,” he said, and yes, Lewin repeated himself. “It’s the vibe and the friendly people.”
Lewin’s grooviest times with the Chargers came when describing LaDainian Tomlinson. The incomparable running back enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 5 and among Lewin’s blessings is calling Tomlinson’s decorated career.
It was through Lewin’s adjectives, knowledge and enthusiasm that many listeners were able to enjoy Tomlinson’s NFL ride.
“It was his sheer talent that stood out and you have to start there,” Lewin said. “But to me it was how he was able to rise to the occasion.”
Tomlinson did that when setting the NFL single-season touchdown record on Dec. 10, 2006. Tomlinson had tied the mark with his second, and 28th score on the season, against the Denver Broncos.
When the Broncos turned the ball over late in the game and deep in their own territory, Tomlinson got one more chance in raucous Qualcomm Stadium.
In Lewin’s immortal words: “Handoff, Tomlinson, he skirts it outside, into the end zone, Chargers fans are witnesses to history!”
Tomlinson was carried off on his teammates’ shoulders; Lewin didn’t get carried away with the call. But the glee in his tone let everyone know just how special of a late afternoon it was in Mission Valley.
“He wanted to do it at home and he wanted to do it in front of his fans,” Lewin said. “That was L.T.”
What wasn’t Tomlinson came the next season when the Chargers advanced to the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots. A knee injury sidelined Tomlinson and the Chargers’ chance for a second Super Bowl was denied on a bitterly cold New England day.
“That was so unlike him because he always found a way to do it,” Lewin said. “I was waiting for him to put the Superman cape on and run back out there. But sometimes the human body won’t let you do that.”
And sometimes a voice associated with one of the grandest eras of Chargers football is silenced.
“I wish I could be doing their games and it does feel odd not to,” he said. “But at least I retired as a San Diego Charger.”
And, better yet, with his home in Solana Beach.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jparis_sports
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports