Orioles missed a legend


I think that the Orioles are doing a great job of honoring their past with this year’s legends series where they’re unveiling statues of their hall of famers at Camden Yards. One week from this Saturday we’ll see the tribute statue to Earl Weaver (“the Earl of Baltimore”) unveiled before the O’s/Indians game in the left field picnic area at Camden Yards. In the 20th anniversary season at Camden Yards, the Orioles are rightfully paying tribute to their past. Perhaps more importantly, they’re doing their best to bring the past back to reality by the way they’re playing on the field. However with all of that said, they did in fact miss a legend when they planned the “legends series.”

Just prior to the season I wrote a piece on the Orioles’ legendary voice of yesteryear, Chuck Thompson. I’m going to try my best not to make this a reprieve of that column, however the fact is that if the Orioles are going to be in the business of honoring the past their past there should be some representation of Thompson. Thompson helped raise countless generations of Oriole fans with his smooth delivery and crisp calls of Family Feud-like games which came to represent idle summer days and nights of yesteryear.

In fairness, if he were here now Chuck Thompson would probably argue that it was always about the players. However the way I see it, the one constant through all of the great players (and coaches in Earl’s case) that are being honored this year is Chuck Thompson. Throughout numerous eras and numerous stars, the beer was always still cold while Ms. Agnes went to war. Hearing Thompson’s voice come through the radio after supper in the evening or while sitting on the back porch sipping lemonade during hot summer afternoons became a time-honored tradition in this region for years. Come autumn of course Thompson would step into the Colts’ radio booth at Memorial Stadium and call all of the action. He was the voice of Baltimore, and in my opinion he should be honored as such. 

I suppose I’m not really trying to criticize the Orioles too much because Thompson would be right in arguing that it should be about the players. However keep in mind that he is a Ford C. Frick award winner (1993), and he won Maryland Sportscaster of the Year on numerous occasions. The gentlemen that call Oriole games now are decent announcers, but I suspect they’d be the first ones to tell you that they aren’t Chuck. However his spirit still lingers around the team in a sense. MASN analyst Jim Hunter wears a black tuxedo with an orange bow tie to MC the Orioles’ opening day ceremonies every year. He said once that Thompson would always wear orange and he would always wear black on opening day, so now he wears the orange bow tie in Thompson’s memory. That’s a touch of class in honor of a classy gentleman in his own right.

Ideally I’d like to see the Orioles erect a statue of Thompson standing at a microphone in the left field picnic area where the statutes of the rest of the legends will be. However I also recognize that those statues take awhile to make, and odds are they couldn’t do it before the end of the season. Furthermore Thompson wasn’t on-field personnel, so perhaps it wouldn’t be right to put a statue of him with the rest of the guys. However there’s a very easy fix to this, although it would take a page out of the book of a regional foe (who comes to town this weekend). When the Orioles traveled to DC to play the Nationals last month I noticed that the press box was named in honor of the late and great sportswriter Shirley Povich. I don’t see any reason why the Orioles couldn’t name the press box at Camden Yards “The Chuck Thompson Memorial Press Box” or something along those lines. It would pay homage to the last great piece of Oriole history that needs to be recognized. All in all, the Orioles have done a great job with honoring the past this year…however I’d love to see them make that happen.

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