Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Hanging out with Queen Elizabeth

 

In light of Meghan & Harry's interview that is stirring up a hornet's nest in Buckingham Palace, I thought I would share my personal brush with the Queen of England. 

In 1991 I was a rookie play-by-play announcer for the Baltimore Orioles. I kept a daily journal that year and sold it as a book. "It's Gone!...No, wait a minute"(my classic home run call unfortunately) was published by Villard and released in ’93. It’s available on Amazon or on a remainder table near you. Thirty years ago this is what happened:

WEDNESDAY, MAY 15, 1991, BALTIMORE

A typical day really, except that the queen of England and the president of the United States attended the game. They saw the A’s win 6-3, although Randy Milligan hit his first home run of the year and then his second.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip are visiting the United States and wanted to view something that represented the “epitome of America”. That meant either the Shopping Channel or baseball. So our little ol’ ballpark on Thirty-third Street got the nod. The weather was glorious, the traffic horrendous, and the crowd merely moderate (32,501) to see this historic occasion (The queen was not as big a draw as free wristbands.)

The entourage arrived at 6:30 via motorcade and were whisked into a private reception hosted by club owner Eli S. Jacobs (whom I have yet to meet, by the way). The VIP party, which also included Mr. Bush, baseball commish Fay Vincent (who told me before the game that the role of the commissioner in affairs such as these is “to be seen and then leave”), Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, Mrs. Secretary of Defense, the Governor of Maryland, the British Foreign Secretary, and a number of the queen’s personal valets, secretaries, and foot stools. They all dined on crab cakes and hot dogs. (What, no crumpets and nachos??).

Everyone lingered over dinner for fifteen minutes, and then the royal party moved on to the Orioles dugout to greet the players of both teams.

I did not get to meet the queen. Jon Miller and I were on the air describing the proceedings. At 7:20 a receiving line of players was rushed through (viewed by the crowd on DiamondVision), and to the horror of the Secret Service, the president escorted Queen Elizabeth (or “Sausage” as Prince Philip calls her) up the top step into the on-deck area in full view of the masses. Personally, I feel Harold Baines would be in greater danger than the queen, but the Secret Service men held their breath just the same. The crowd roared its approval.

From there the royal party repaired back to Mr. Jacobs’ sky box on the mezzanine level just to the left of the press box. They sat comfortably behind bulletproof glass as a high school chorus mangled “God Save the Queen” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” over a sound system wracked by feedback.

They stayed for two whole innings, and I sort of felt bad because they were two very boring innings. Five walks, little action. Really, Your Highness, baseball is not that dull! I wanted her to stay longer, but by 8:45 the motorcade had shuttled her away. I also was hoping to have her stop by our booth and possibly read the “Esskay Meats Out-of-Town Scoreboard,” but that was not to be. See if I vote for her in the next election!

All in all it was a very exciting night. In three previous years in the minors the most important dignitary I ever saw attend a game was the Phillie Phanatic.

29 comments :

slgc said...

Straight out of The Naked Gun (well, almost)!

Poochie said...

OT: Two and a half years ago on your July 9th post, you predicted we wouldn't be seeing very much Pepe Le Pew in the future. Well they might as well start calling you Ken Nostradamus because it's official...

https://deadline.com/2021/03/pepe-le-pew-space-jam-2-new-york-times-rape-culture-controversy-1234708688/

They tried to fit in Pepe in the new Space Jam movie in a teaching moment and even that didn't fly. WB doesn't want to touch that stench with a $200 million dollar pole and the skunk is DOA.

scottmc said...

Your post made me curious. I pulled down my copy of 'It's Gone...' and turned to the May 15 entry. Coincidentally, it includes a reference to Prince Harry and your brief encounter with Prince Charles.

Al in PDX said...

The important question ... can Jon Miller do an impression of the queen that's as good as his Vin Scully?

Anonymous said...

Four years later Cal Ripkin would break Gehrig's iron man streak. When did the Queen break the iron man/woman streak for the longest-serving Monarch on the throne? Get this, not till Sept. 9, 2015!!

Mark Solomon said...

Perhaps Her Majesty might shown more interest had she attended a Cincinnati Reds game in the late 1960s started by her American cousin, Mel Queen.

Mark Solomon

Daniel said...

I remember that game! I also distinctly remember seeing footage of Chris Hoiles being interviewed afterward about meeting the Queen and him not giving two f*cks about it.

Michael said...

I may never have said it, so now's my chance. As someone else who first heard Vin and that affect my life's path (first, wanting to be a broadcaster, and now being a history professor whose job, lest we forget, is that amid the analysis, we need to be storytellers), I loved your book. I also envied the living daylights out of you!

Jeff Boice said...

I remember watching the game on Home Team Sports- and Reggie Jackson was there with the A's. You reminded me that the game was at Memorial Stadium- my goodness, the Baltimore traffic that day must have been awful.

Anonymous said...

Shows how much of a baseball fan I am. I had to look up Harold Baines.

Liggie said...

The Queen is used to sports played at leisurely paces; she comes from the home of cricket.

maxdebryn said...

I watched Pepé Le Pew cartoons when I was a lad back in the 60s. I am now over sixty years of age, and have never molested any cats, or skunks, for that matter. Feel free to cancel me for my lack of enlightenment.

Unknown said...

Does Phillie Phanatic like crab cakes?

stephen catron said...

The Phanatic is better than those royals anyday. I'd like the queen to meet Gritty.

Ere I Saw Elba said...

I can't even find any decent green eggs and ham anymore, thanks to Cancel Culture. Not with a goat, not on a boat, not even in a moat. What's next, are we going to find out that "Sam-I-Am" is really a transgender muppet? What bathroom would Gonzo even use? I think the Queen really needs to weigh in on this.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Speaking of cricket, in one of Thomas Boswell's books he talks about taking a British friend to a baseball game, where he was dazzled by a routine fly ball. "He ran to the very spot and caught it!" he exclaimed (something that seldom happens in cricket, apparently). Boswell's comment: "If this guy ever saw Ozzie Smith he'd have a heart attack."

JoeyH said...

Liggie beat me to a cricket joke.

RF Burns said...

Ken's buddy Mark Evanier has a different take on the Pepe "controversy":

https://www.newsfromme.com/2021/03/09/skunked/

Basically, Pepe was always a minor character who was never especially popular, and the studios only made a handful of cartoons which included him. So the outrage seems a bit overblown (as with most things like this).

JAHN GHALT said...

Liggie beat me to it - with his reference to cricket.

One might imagine that QEII regards attendance to cricket matches as more duty than pleasure. Given that multi-day "tests" are conducted between national teams, nine innings seems like a piece o' cake.

Jahn Ghalt said...

Buttermilk Sky wrote:

(Thomas Boswell's British friend) .... was dazzled by a routine fly ball.

That friend probably didn't notice that an outfielder's glove makes one-handed catches routine (despite our coaches' admonition to "use both hands".

By the end of the game, his Anglo friend undoubtedly noticed that all fielders wear gloves (not allowed for any but the wicket keeper). A trip to a well-stocked sporting goods store would reveal considerable specialization for first base, the catcher, and other infielders (small gloves for 2B and SS).

I suppose that pitchers wear "outfielder's gloves" - to snare line drives and general self-protection.

Jahn Ghalt said...


Thanks to RF Burns for his notice of Mark Evanier's piece on PEPE.

I recall being fairly tickled by PEPE six minutes at a time - though I admit, it has been many years since I've seen him (and thank goodnes for youtube).

I recall amusement at PEPE's suave clueless confidence as a "ladies' man". Best of all he's FRENCH - we Yanks and our Birtish friends have long teased Frenchmen forbeing no more than.... FRENCH!

(what else do you need - except for French smugness (smug Frenchness??) )

A work colleague was once obligated to suffer a Quebec client's smug, slimy (and sometimes officious) ways in business. We both took to calling him "PEPE" - but never had the guts to say that to HIS FACE.

(I sorta regret that)

Mike Bloodworth said...

Speaking of baseball. Now that things are starting to "open up" again, if you had the opportunity to attend a game would you go? Would it matter if it was indoors or outdoors? What if everyone but me was vaccinated? Just curious.

M.B.

P.S. I'm way down the line on the cricket reference.

iamr4man said...

Hey, I had a Queen encounter too! During the same trip she visited San Francisco. I was picking up my girlfriend at work at the China Basin building and saw a small crowd at the corner of King Street. The road was blocked off and the Queen’s motorcade drove by. She waived at me (at least that how I tell the story) as she drove by.

Re Pepe Le Pew; does this mean Harpo Marx gets cancelled too?

D. McEwan said...

I was amused when you wrote, "I sort of felt bad because they were two very boring innings," as though there were such a thing as a non-boring baseball inning.

I imagine the Queen, as she left, saying, "Well, that certainly made cricket look like fast-paced thrills."

Canadian Dude said...

I'm a Canadian, which means I'm one of the Queen's subjects (!)

Many many years ago, when I was a half of a comedy juggling team, we were hired to amuse a crowd of folks gathered in Cabbagetown, Toronto - the Queen was popping by to visit one of her first-ever nannies - and our job was to keep everyone (perhaps 100 folks?) in a good mood until she arrived.

After our show, I stood with the modest assembly as she strolled by - all of two feet away from me - waving and accepting flowers from youngsters. Meanwhile, I had a gym bag containing 3 machetes, 3 torches, a can of naptha, and a training hand-grenade (meaning it was empty) dangling from my shoulder.

I remember thinking, Mum, you gotta upgrade your security, maybe.



Troy McClure said...

There's a famous old philosophical question: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Lauren Boebert has compared President Biden's dogs to immigrants. It begs the question: If a Republican became psychotic, could anyone tell the difference?

Ken B said...

Friday Question: in your book about being a baseball radio announcer, you tell about Ted Danson doing you a favor and doing a radio interview in character as Sam Malone talking about his baseball days. The description in the book was great -- does the interview still exist as a sound clip or as a script?

Mike Doran said...

I don't know if this counts as a Royal Encounter, but let's see ...

Back around 1980 or thereabouts, Prince Charles was making a goodwill visit to Chicago (this would have been before he married Diana).

Charles was being escorted around town by the then-Mayor, Mike Bilandic (who years after this was regularly libelled by Dennis Prager - but that's another story ...).

Anyway, the Prince and the Mayor were spending a lunch hour taking a stroll down LaSalle Street in the Loop (Chicago's financial district), where a sizable crowd was gathered on the curbside to shake hands and say howdy (it was that long ago).

I was working as a messenger for a broker at the time; I was out on an errand, and happened to pass the Prince's parade for a few seconds.

I had a failure of nerve: I wanted to call out to Charles, "Ying Tong Iddle I Po!", and see if he would respond.
You see, I knew that the Prince of Wales was a huge fan of the BBC's legendary Goon Show, and the above quote was one of that show's catch phrases.
Alas, I chickened out on making the call, and I'll always wonder how he might have responded to that.

Proofreading the above, it belatedly occurs to me that this catch phrase might get me in Dutch (so to speak) with the Seusshunters in the crowd, so maybe I should quit while I'm behind ...

blogward said...

We citizens of Scotland call her the Queen of England too :)