As far back as I can remember, I have been a fan of the Baltimore Orioles. I fondly recall listening to my first Orioles games broadcast on WFMD on my grandmother’s yellow Bendix radio when I was about 6 years old. Later, I would look forward to watching the rare televised Orioles game on Channel 13 on a black and white Zenith TV. Later, there were more televised games that were broadcast in color as the games moved to Channel 2.
As I attended elementary school, I would listen to the Orioles radio broadcasts on my transistor radio. Sometimes at night, I would bury the radio below the pillow so my parents wouldn’t know I was awake. Early on, I remember Chuck Thompson, Bill O’Donnell and Frank Messer as the broadcasters on both radio and television. They would alternate back and forth between broadcasting radio and TV, switching in the middle of the fifth inning. At the end of the radio broadcast, the crew would always acknowledge their broadcast engineer “Scoop” Reeder, brother to former County Commissioner Bruce Reeder.
Even though Frederick is only 45 miles from Camden Yards—and the second largest city in Maryland—WFMD ceased carrying the Orioles games. No other local radio stations carry the Orioles game broadcasts. Fortunately, Sirius XM Radio comes to the rescue of Orioles fans as both home and away games that are normally carried on radio are available on the Sirius XM. If the Orioles have an off day, you use your XM radio or app to listen to any other major league baseball game in progress.
The Baltimore Orioles have had some truly Hall of Fame broadcasters. Ernie Harwell was an early Orioles announcer when the club first moved to Baltimore in 1954. Chuck Thompson was THE voice of the Baltimore Orioles as I grew up. Jon Miller’s mellow voice graced the airwaves with his exceptional baseball knowledge that took the Orioles into the 1990s. Miller became the gold standard for baseball broadcasting as the host of Sunday Night Baseball. All three of these golden voices have all been awarded the Ford Frick Award and been enshrined in the Baseball Hall Fame.
Our Frederick Keys have recently contributed to the voices of Major League Baseball when former Keys broadcaster Matt Hicks became a broadcaster for the Texas Rangers, and more recently, former Keys broadcaster Geoff Arnold began broadcasting for the Orioles. This article is certainly not to take away from either of these great broadcasting professionals.
I am perplexed by the most recent actions of the Baltimore Orioles and/or MASN Sports Network with respect to replacing Gary Thorne, Jim Hunter, Tom Davis and Rick Dempsey. Jim Hunter bleeds black and orange. He has been announcing for the Orioles for 24 years and been one of the team’s strongest off-the-field advocates. Gary Thorne, the epitome of a professional baseball broadcaster, brought his depth of baseball knowledge and wealth of experience to the broadcast booth.
I am not being critical of the new voices of the Orioles as they have not had a true opportunity to demonstrate their skills or show their colors, preferable black and orange. Certainly, Scott Garceau is a true Orioles fan and should do well with Jim Palmer and other former Orioles assisting on the television play-by-play. The Orioles had a great stable of quality broadcast personnel with individuals that had proven ability and loyalties.
The move to release Gary Thorne and Jim Hunter makes little sense to the fan. The separation of these broadcast professionals and their MASN counterparts is most likely attributed to austerity measures. Rebuilding the team is an acceptable burden to assure future success. Destroying the excellent broadcast team that has built a solid foundation to support the rebuild is questionable. I will still be watching most of the Orioles broadcasts this year just as I have for most of my life. But I will miss the voices of Gary Thorne and Jim Hunter. Thanks, guys.
Just as I am ready to upload this article, the sports page of the FNP announced the semi-retirement of a great friend, Bill Cauley. I first met Bill when he was a volunteer from Brunswick in one of the first EMT training classes in Frederick County back in 1973. We became quick friends, and I was thrilled when he got hired by the Frederick News-Post. We have kept in contact throughout the years. We still occasionally see each other, especially at Frederick Keys games. When I announce the Veterans Day Parade in Brunswick, Bill always makes a point of coming over to the reviewing stand and say “hi.” Thanks, Bill. Your contributions to the Frederick News-Post and Frederick County sports in general will be greatly missed. As Gary Thorne would say, “Adieu, Adieu!”
Clarence “Chip” Jewell is a Frederick County native and lifelong Orioles fan who is fortunate to have met legendary voices Chuck Thompson, Jon Miller and iconic public address announcer Rex Barney. “Thaank Yooouuu!”