Go to war, Miss Agnes -- Chuck Thompson is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Orioles' legendary announcer was named yesterday as the 1993 winner of
the Ford C. Frick Award, given to a broadcaster who has made a major
contribution to baseball. His legion of admirers responded to the selection
with ringing endorsements, while no doubt proclaiming: "Ain't the beer cold."
Thompson, who has announced major-league baseball for more than six
decades and also gained fame as the longtime voice of Baltimore Colts
football, will be added to the broadcast wing during Baseball Hall of Fame
ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Aug. 1.
For the past 44 years Thompson has lived in the Baltimore area, where he
became as well known as any of the athletes with whom he has been associated.
For most of that time, Thompson has been a fixture in the Orioles' broadcast
"Chuck's six decades as a major-league broadcaster, 33 years with the
Orioles, have made him a Baltimore legend," said Hall of Fame president Ed
Stack, who made yesterday's announcement. "His easygoing manner has endeared
him to his listeners and viewers and his sense of humor have contributed to
Thompson is the 17th recipient of the Frick Award, which was established
in 1978. A special committee of baseball officials and broadcasters makes the
selection each year.
Reached at his winter residence in Bradenton, Fla., Thompson, 71, admitted
to being overwhelmed by his selection. "I'm a little better now than when I
first heard the news [over the weekend]," said Thompson. "But I don't know if
I'll ever get over the enormity and the prestige of this.
"I never felt this would happen -- I didn't think I was good enough," said
Others were ecstatic over Thompson's selection. "It's richly deserved,"
said Orioles president Larry Lucchino. "The man has been an institution. He
has been the personification of Orioles baseball for at least a few
generations. I'm glad to see baseball give him the recognition he deserves."
When Thompson learned of his selection, one of his first phone calls was
to Brooks Robinson, the Hall of Fame third baseman who was his partner on
WMAR-TV for 10 years.
"Brooks has always been very public in his support for me and I wanted to
share it with him," said Thompson. "He and [Robinson's wife] Connie got on the
phone and all I can tell you is it was a great conversation with some
Robinson has long been outspoken in his belief that Thompson deserved Hall
of Fame recognition, and reiterated those feelings last night. "It's been a
long time coming and he's certainly deserving," said Robinson.
"He's a guy who could've done anything he wanted in the business, but he
decided to stay in Baltimore. And I respect him for that," said Robinson.
"The thing that I remember most from working with him was that he always
had the right words. It was amazing -- I don't know what it is, he just has
the ability to say the right thing.
"Now," said Robinson, "it's time for him to enjoy it. He's going to have a
ball up there [Cooperstown]. When I talked to him, I said 'you better start
writing your speech.' I just think it's a wonderful thing."
Jon Miller, who has worked in an adjacent radio or television booth during
most of his years in Baltimore, related a story that perhaps best exemplifies
how his contemporaries regard Thompson. "It was about 12 years ago when I was
with the Red Sox and I remember sitting on the bench talking with [broadcast
partner] Ned Martin," said Miller.
"Ned told me if he had to pick someone to do one big game, he would ask
Chuck. That shows the kind of respect he has among his peers.
"Chuck has that tremendous voice and the ability to paint a picture with
words," said Miller. "But, to me, what says it all about Chuck and the regard
in which he is held was that final weekend at Memorial Stadium [in 1991].
"How long was that ovation when he was introduced? It seemed like five
minutes. I've never heard an ovation like that for anybody other than a former
player. This [the Frick award] is a well deserved honor."