The role of baseball announcer used to be sacred — the seat would be occupied by a legendary figure for decades. Kids growing up with their loyalty to their favorite team would find the familiar voice of the radio broadcaster both comforting and inspiring — a true friend on the air waves. But times have changed. Now those long term fixtures have been replaced by inexpensive rent-a-broadcaster types who might only stay in the role a couple of years. At least that is the case for my beloved Baltimore Orioles.
Chuck Thompson was synonymous with Orioles baseball — with his famous saying: “Ain’t the beer cold!” He was a true gentleman who was known around town. After his retirement you had another broadcasting icon in Jon Miller for a short term — until he moved over to the San Francisco Giants when the Orioles were too cheap to renew his contract. Then you had some stability with Joe Angel and Fred Manfra. But now it seems like the club has expanded its miserly spending pattern to new faces that lack any reputation or industry background. They may be very competent as announcers, but the connection to a legendary long-time figure has been lost.
I grew up listening to the Philadelphia Phillies on my transistor radio in my bed. “Baseball and Ballantine” was the main ad that streamed over the airwaves from the familiar 3 ring team of announcers. Then you had the more recent legend = Harry Kalas with Richie Ashburn who performed a prominent role as well after his playing career. Tracking the team’s ups and downs from the voices of these baseball figures truly constituted “easy listening.” Other teams had their own legendary figures — Vin Skully for the Dodgers or Harry Caray for the Cubs — and the list goes on.
But those times are over — at least for the Baltimore Orioles.