Of course there were great announcers in Orioles history. Chuck Thompson and Bill O’Donnell come to mind with “Keep the beer cold” and “Go to War, Miss Agnes.”
Both were solid baseball announcers who told you what was going on in the game.
But when Jon Miller came to town, we were truly blessed. What a great voice and brilliant sense of humor. And who could forget his call on the last play of the 1983 World Series.
“Line drive, Ripken catches it, and the Orioles are the champions of the world!”
What’s my favorite Miller story? I don’t have it down pat but it was something like this. He was first the Boston Red Sox announcer. He knew some Spanish and was asked to sit with the Spanish announcers and make comments for an inning.
So he brushed up on his Spanish and said, “The Red Sox are losing and I’m sad.”
The announcers looked at him seriously and were clearly a little taken aback.
So when the commercial came on, Miller asked the announcer why they looked so serious after he said he was sad.
They started to laugh and explained to Miller that he didn’t say the Red Sox were losing and he was sad.
Instead, he had uttered in his broken Spanish, that the Red Sox were losing and he was dangerous.
I thought that was a brilliant story.
Anyway, in the Orioles office one day, the store manager told me that Miller had a great message on his answering machine. So I dialed the number to listen.
I didn’t get the message as Miller answered the phone instead. So we had a nice conversation anyway.
Of course, 1983 was a great season to listen to Miller do the play by play. I’m trying to be nice here but I wasn’t as pleased with his radio partner, Tom Marr. He had a solid voice but wasn’t as good as Miller.
So there was that classic game with Toronto at home on Aug. 24. There was a heck of a pennant race brewing in American League East. The Brewers held onto a half game lead over the Birds. The Tigers were a game and a half back. The Blue Jays were just 2.5 back and the evil Yankees were 3.5 back.
Jim Clancy would pitch for the Jays while Scott McGregor hurled for Baltimore. It was a low-scoring affair heading to the late innings. The O’s rallied to knot the game up at 3-3 heading to the 10th. That was the game in which manager Joe Altobelli played musical chairs with his players. Brother Lo, John Lowenstein, moved to second base from the outfield. Gary Roenicke, another outfielder, took over at third. And Lenn Sakata, moved to catcher for the first time since Little League.
Of course Tippy picked off three runners from first base in the 10th. Those baserunners couldn’t believe Sakata was the catcher. It was amazing but Miller wasn’t doing the announcing in the 10th and I wasn’t getting the full experience. Sakata’s three-run homer in the 10th won it in dramatic style.
I wonder if Miller would consider recording that 10th inning over again.