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Bob Stockton

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9/29/2012 4:58:14 AM    [ Flag as Inappropriate ]

For the first time since 1997 the Birds seem destined to make a playoff appearance.
2012 Bob Stockton. All rights reserved.

Rather than watch the Phillies awkwardly stumble toward the finish line I have begun to watch the Baltimore Orioles who are making their first serious postseason bid since 1997. The Orioles play by play television announcer, Gary Thorne is in my view the best announcer in the game today. He is knowledgeable, erudite and has a wicked sense of humor. Thorne keeps the viewer in the game at all times and is also paired from time to time with Jim Palmer, the Hall of Fame Orioles pitcher who brings a vast knowledge of the game to the booth and complements Thorne's narrative nicely.

The two men obviously have a mutual respect for one another and seem to genuinely like each other as well. Palmer now states that his wife "is again interested in baseball," which cracks Thorne up. Palmer continues with an imitation of the telephone calls from his wife; "what's the score? Who's at bat", and so on. Thorne meanwhile can hardly maintain his composure, laughing at Palmer's faux imitation of his wife's constant calls. Is he the patient husband of a baseball wife who pretends interest when the team is winning but affects complete disregard for the rather strange and mysterious career that her famous husband has chosen when the Orioles are less than stellar? Whatever the answer to the between inning exchange - or is it a monologue? - during the late stages of a laugher with the
Red Sox is funny, the kind of humor that is usually on display when the two get together for the MASN broadcast.

Palmer , who was well known for his verbal jousts with legendary Baltimore manager Earl Weaver will often times relate one of those delightful baseball anecdotes that are all too infrequent in today's Bud Selig manipulated game (I suppose that millionaire players and their entourage of agents with briefcases are too self important to see any humor in the game). The reflections that he shares are priceless! Weaver, the minor league catcher with the brilliant baseball mind was notorious for his umpire baiting and the fans and most players loved it. With his cap turned around catcher style and going nose to nose with the umpire du jour, he'd kick dirt on the ump's shoes and remark none too demurely on the umpire's heritage, usually after being ejected from the game. His tenure in Baltimore
lasted through three decades and the fans loved just about all of it.

Jim Palmer was not a great fan of Weaver's antics but you get the feeling that underneath his disdain he respected the man for his commitment to the game. Palmer may in his advancing, no more underwear ads please years, look back on some of Weaver's quotes with fondness. During a recent broadcast Palmer referred to Weaver's teams in Baltimore City as "The First Amendment Orioles," the implication being that players could say whatever they felt and Weaver would retaliate with a devastating quip that would give the player cause - exception Palmer - to think before he uttered any more disparaging remarks about his manager. Palmer gives us a great case in point: When Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar who was one of the "Fab Four" Orioles pitchers who won twenty games in the same season - can you name them without looking it up? - complained loudly to the press about being pulled for a relief pitcher early in a game one season Weaver's only response to the press when being questioned about the move simply replied that he had given Cuellar "more chances than his first wife."

I miss those days. How about you?

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More Blogs by Bob Stockton
• The View From My Recliner - Wednesday, October 03, 2012
•  Birdland - Saturday, September 29, 2012  
• Looking Back - Wednesday, September 26, 2012
• Kipling's 'Tommy' - Tuesday, September 18, 2012
• "Thank You For your Service" - Friday, March 23, 2012
• 'Fighting Bob Given 'Four Stars' - Tuesday, January 31, 2012
• Listening to Ghosts Awarded Bronze Medal - Monday, December 26, 2011
• 'Cora Accepted For Publication - Monday, December 26, 2011
• 'Fighting Bob' Entered in Fla. Book Awards Competition - Monday, November 14, 2011
• My Maynard Eulogy - Thursday, November 10, 2011

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