Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hollywood Glamour Boy

For baseball fans this is a great time of year – Spring Training. To give you a little flavor of what it’s like, here are some excerpts from my book IT’S GONE…NO, WAIT A MINUTE… (available on Amazon for $.19) which chronicled my year broadcasting for the Baltimore Orioles (1991). My partner was Jon Miller (pictured on the right, not the left), the current voice of the Giants and ESPN baseball. The setting was Florida.


Our second game was in Port Charlotte against a team I knew nothing about, the Texas Rangers.


A CURRENT AFFAIR did a story on me.
The camera crew was back at 9 a.m. Today’s the day they were going to show me at work as a broadcaster, so of course that meant filming me and Jon physically leaving the condo and getting into our car. When we reached the parking lot I pretended that the car had been stolen.

We sped down the coast to Port Charlotte to face the Rangers (ditching the mobile truck at the expressway entrance).

I talked about the crew on the air, saying that I was a CURRENT AFFAIR subject because (1) I’m a TV writer now broadcasting major league baseball, and (2) I have a different wife stashed away in every American League city.


Today Jon and I took a three-hour drive to the center of the state, to some godforsaken town called Baseball City. It’s near Haines City, if that helps. Baseball City is the spring home of the Kansas City Royals, and it’s adjacent to an amusement park named Baseball and Boardwalk. Not a bad idea to have a baseball theme for an amusement park and then complement it with actual games. I can see where tourists might go for that. The only trouble is, there’s another amusement park only thirty miles away – Disney World. Baseball and Boardwalk went belly-up last year. The Royals do okay for their one month in the spring, but their Florida State League team draws more mosquitoes than people. Jon opened the broadcast today by saying, “Live, from the middle of nowhere, this is Orioles baseball!”

Six cities are vying for the privilege of shelling out $95 million apiece for one of two National League franchises. Miami is making a big push this weekend by hosting the Orioles and the Yankees at Joe Robbie Stadium (home of the Dolphins). Calling a game with 60,000-plus in the house, that’s “the Show”. It was such a kick. I didn’t even mind the fact that we had to do the game from the football press box way up the first-base line and that all fly balls appeared headed for left once they left the bat. Somehow I managed to take my cue from the fielders and describe the game accurately. Not once did I say, “There’s a fly ball to center…foul!”


My CURRENT AFFAIR story aired tonight…fortunately at 12:15 a.m. What a riot. Mine was one segment of A CURRENT AFFAIR EXTRA, their hourlong waste of airtime. I was lumped in with some guy who kills little girls in church, people whose skin has fallen off while mowing the lawn, and the latest fashion in underpants. I followed the murderer.

In the piece, I was referred to as “Hollywood Glamour Boy” Ken Levine. I was one of the top writers in show business according to them (proving just how inaccurate their sources are). They said I could be dong “this”, and showed some wild pulsating disco scene, then they said I could be spending time with “this”, and featured two buxom beauties in string bikinis with the camera lingering on their bouncing breasts. But no, they continued, he’s doing “this,” and they featured me sitting in the cheesy broadcast booth in Port Charlotte calling a spring training game before a crowd of maybe two thousand uninterested senior citizens. Several MASH and CHEERS clips were then haphazardly interwoven into an inane interview segment. Jon answered a question about whether I discuss Hollywood parties with him, and as he spoke, his name was superimposed on the screen, spelled incorrectly (John Miller). The only play-by-play they captured was, “Here’s the pitch…low, ball two,” and “There’s a foul ball out of play.” The segment ended with me saying I can never get a good table at Spago.

Since the program aired in the middle of the night, I have to wonder how many groggy viewers got up the next morning and said to their wives, “Hey, did you hear about that Baltimore Orioles’ announcer who killed all those kids in church?”


Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Funny stuff!

But the BEST part is that I went on Amazon and bought the book for $.12

I hope it includes the Borneo story. If not, I wanna know: Can I get my money back??


Anonymous said...

All you need to know about the Rangers is that they sucked all last year - They are still (possibly) paying for "A-Fraud"
and they may be better this year.
Sosa - Sosa - Sosa! Cork one for me, Sammi

Anonymous said...

All you need to know about the Rangers is that they sucked all last year - They are still (possibly) paying for "A-Fraud"
and they may be better this year.
Sosa - Sosa - Sosa! Cork one for me, Sammi

Anonymous said...

OOPS! - Sorry. I'm a dork.

(It said I had an error...)

Anonymous said...

"...the BEST part is that I went on Amazon and bought the book for $.12"

Yes, but to get it in good condition it will set you back 25 cents.

So Ken do you have any good Jon Miller stories to share or do I have to buy the book? I grew up listening to Scully and Enberg; I have to say Miller is right up there with the two of them in my book. (Which incidentally you can't buy for even 12 cents)

Ken, sometime before the regular season begins you should post your play-off predictions.

VP81955 said...

Interesting tale, especially the games at what was then known as Joe Robbie Stadium. I well recall the battle for the NL expansion franchises, because I was at RFK Stadium in Washington just before the season began when Baltimore played two games against Boston. (I presume you were there, Ken.)

The games drew reasonably well, but what I remember most was that seeing RFK in a genuine baseball configuration for the first time since the early '70s was a revelation. (There had been exhibition games there in the interim, but the stadium remained in the football/soccer configuration because that seating section, once movable, had sunk in. As a result, the left-field pole distance was even shorter than the infamous Los Angeles Coliseum layout during the Dodgers' four years there, and led to Luke Appling's famed home run in the 1982 Cracker Jack old-timers game.) The place looked in decent, albeit spartan, shape. (For some reason, I also recall that the P.A. system played the Traveling Wilburys' first album during batting practice -- it was great to hear Roy Orbison singing "Not Alone Anymore" as the Bosox and Birds took their swings.)

We feared at the time that D.C.'s quest for an MLB team bordered on the quixotic, despite its obvious demographic advantages -- although the subsequent winners, Denver and Miami, have certainly had their ups and downs. Fortunately, Washington fans have since been rewarded for their patience (and from the renderings I've seen of the new park, it's going to be a good place to watch baseball, sharing many of the fan-friendly features of Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia).

Anonymous said...

I didn't know A Current Affair was still on! When was it resurrected?

Anonymous said...

Ken, you actually make me want to watch baseball...or even A CURRENT AFFAIR.

Unknown said...

John Miller and Joe Morgan sure do a great job. I wish ESPN broadcasts didn't have so many bells and whistles and exploding stat boxes, it's like they're trying to give someone a seisure.

Looking forward to the book arriving from Amazon in my mailbox soon.

And although Joe Morgan is a great announcer, the best and most beloved Cincinnati Red baseball analyst named Joe is, was and always shall be Joe Nuxhall.

Cap'n Bob said...

Joe Morgan a great announcer? I'd rather hear Diana Ross call the game.

Firepix1979 said...

I remember Baseball City feeling a bit like an abandoned drive in movie- it was just an awful place- and then you had to be subjected to watching the Royals.....