Thursday, June 05, 2014

Wait a minute. Is that idiot back?

Since I'm filling in today for Marilu Henner on her nationally syndicated radio show I thought I'd keep the radio theme going. 

Yesterday I wrote about a radio prank I pulled. And that reminded me of another one. This one was the brainchild of the great (Hall of Fame) baseball announcer, Jon Miller.  In addition to everything else, he has a wicked sense of humor. 

Jon and I broadcast Baltimore Orioles baseball in 1991. The following year I moved on to the Seattle Mariners. Less humidity.  We came into Baltimore the play the O’s in mid May. Jon asked what innings I called for the M’s. The 3rd, 6th, and 7th. He said, would I mind coming over and doing the 4th inning of the Orioles broadcast? I said I’d be delighted to.

But there was a catch.

Jon said, "Let’s do it as if you’ve always been here."  We'd make no acknowledgement that I was just guesting. I of course, was all too happy to play along.   This is the kind of wacky shit Jon and I would do when we were partners.  

So when it came time for my triumphant return, Jon opened the mic and said, “Let’s go to the 4th and here’s Ken.” “Thank you, Jon,” I said and then just started calling the play-by-play. I read the Esskay Out-of-town scoreboard as I always did, paused for station identification on the "Baltimore Orioles Radio Network", talked about how much I was looking forward to the upcoming series with the Yankees, commented that the Orioles pitcher looked much sharper than the last few times I saw him pitch, etc. When the next inning began I said, “On to the 5th, and once again here’s Jon.” “Thanks, Ken” he said and that was it. Nothing was ever mentioned.

Apparently the phones at the station went crazy. People were completely confused. Was I still there? What happened to the new guy? Was I back? Did they hear this correctly? Jon and I got a good laugh out of it, although I wonder how many irate people were calling to say, “I thought we had gotten rid of that guy!”

I must say, I did get my payback though.  Later that game, when I was back doing the Mariners' broadcast I paused for station identification on the "Baltimore Orioles Radio Network."    Oops. 

18 comments:

Clueless in Seattle said...

I think I heard that on the Mariners network! Great back story!

Michael said...

And that is exactly what is missing from so many baseball broadcasts today--the sense of fun, the presence of real personality. For all of our talk about The Vin doing a monologue, he and Jerry Doggett used to chat on the air between innings or during pitching changes, and used to do some skits during promotions (they did the wiffle bat day promo once on TV, and spent part of it hitting each other with the bats).

Andrew said...

Why would they schedule you for 3rd, 6th and 7th? That seems so random. Why not 1-3 or 7-9?

Ed Dalder said...

In 1993, Fernando Valenzula pitched for The Orioles. One pre-game, Miller interviewed Fernando.

So in the intro, Jon starts goes in Spanish"El grandisismo juegador de beisbol..." on for a paragraph or two.
the capper was Miller's finish "Fernnnadooo Val-en-zu-ela!"

Fernano just responded straight faced in perfect English, "Thank you very much, Jon"

Perfect.

The Curmudgeon said...

I love your baseball stories. I love your radio stories. Today was a win-win.

VP81955 said...

Reminds me of my days in Philadelphia hearing Harry and Whitey (Kalas and Ashburn to you non-Philadelphians) doing Phillies games. There was one spring training game in 1990 -- I recall it was at night, rare for the time -- when the Lambada was all the rage for a few weeks, and they kept cracking wicked (albeit clean) jokes about the dance.

VP81955 said...

Andrew said...
Why would they schedule you for 3rd, 6th and 7th? That seems so random. Why not 1-3 or 7-9?


In Washington, lead man Charlie Slowes does innings 1-2, 5 (for the out-of-town scoreboard) and 8-9 of Nationals games, while Dave Jageler does innings 3-4 and 6-7. I believe they alternate in extra innings. They're a pretty good combo, and when a player with a somewhat unusual name enters the game, they'll spell it out, followed by a "ding!" from a spelling-bee bell...which you can always hear over in the next booth at Nationals Park while Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo call the game on TV for MASN.

Mister Charlie said...

hahahaha

I too have misidentified the station I was on, since I worked at two competely different stations at the same time. At least twice I gave the wrong call letters...argh, no taking it back on live radio. Never got nailed for it though.

Tony Aromo said...

A question for Friday when you've exhausted everything else:

One topic you rarely take on is politics. I know you lean pretty left (as the majority of Hollywood is known for), but I'm curious to know if you have any interesting anecdotes of how politics has intersected with your work. Ever seen someone fired or harassed for differing political opinions? Ever worked under someone of the opposite political persuasion and seen any unusual treatment? How tolerant is Hollywood...really?

emily said...

You shudda thrown in a San Francisco traffic update.

benson said...

Timely post. Just saw the news Jon Miller has been named to the Radio Hall of Fame.

And the pbp voice of my Blackhawks, Pat Foley gets in to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Both well deserved.

Mike Barer said...

Cool story, you should try that on an M's broadcast sometime and see what happens.

Johnny Walker said...

He's gone! No, wait a minute...

Johnny Walker said...

I'm still watching Cheers, just finished Season 7, and now have more Cheers questions to add to the mounting pile:

It was an odd choice that Rebecca should be demoted under Sam early in the season, but then essentially regain her old job back almost immediately. Her bosses see her as the manager of the bar again only a few episodes later. Made me wonder why there was decision to put Sam in control of the bar again in the first place?

Season 7 was also a little frustrating because it disregarded the Season 6 finale (which ironically, did less drastic things to the characters than previous season finales). After chasing Rebecca for the entirety of Season 6, I was relieved when he finally gave up and decided to try and be her friend. But as soon as Season 7 begins, he's once again doing everything to get into her pants again. At one point Rebecca literally says to Sam: "A man and a woman can spend the night together and not have sex you know..." and Sam just looks at her blankly. I'm guessing this was done because there's so much comedy that can be mined from Sam's schemes, but I thought I'd ask "why?" anyway.

Finally, was there ever any concern that Sam's character was becoming unlikable? I actually found it really gross when Sam meets a young woman he was an "uncle" to, fondly reminisces about how much fun they used to have together when she was a child, and then immediately tries to sleep with her. It really made me dislike him. (It seems the good thing about having Diane around was that we mostly only got to imagine Sam's womanizing -- now she's gone, we get to see it fully -- with its ugliness.)

Liggie said...

Andrew, ever since the days of the late Dave Niehaus, the #1 radio guy for the Mariners does innings 1-2, 5 and 8-9, and the #2 guy does 3, 6-7. If the game goes into extra innings, the #2 does the 10th, and they alternate as needed. Just the way they've always done it.

rockgolf said...

Sounds like 4th innings must be a quiet time in Seattle, Liggie.

Carolyn said...

This is from a article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch from a couple of years ago. Is this common?

>>Frank O. Pinion has a long-running popular and highly profitable general talk/entertainment show at KTRS (550 AM). He also has an unconventional arrangement with the station as he neither buys his air time nor draws a salary.

Instead, he controls 3-4 minutes of the 15 minutes or so of advertising time per hour in his afternoon drive-time program and uses that revenue to pay his sidekicks and himself. And he disdains the trend of pay-for-airtime radio.

"Radio says to people, ‘Hey you can come on the air if you can pay for yourself.’ Are you kidding me?’’ he asked.

"There used to be a time when you were on the radio because you were good at something — you did sports, you were a newsman, you were a disc jockey. You had an ability and skill nobody else had. The sad thing about radio is that now if you can buy your way in you have a show whether you’re any good or not. We and every other station in town has programming that is embarrassing, especially on the weekend, because we’ve taken the check. That really isn’t what radio should be. There was a time when you listened to radio and you knew why (the broadcasters) were on there, because they were good."<<

JoeyH said...

Frank O Pinion (John Craddock) is an extraordinarily talented broadcaster. But KTRS honchos have loaded up that show with so much commercial time that I haven't listened in a couple of years.