VIEWING SPORTS : TOMMY JOHN GOES TO BAT AS ABC SPORTSCASTER

Times Staff Writer

So you were worried about Tommy John's future, after he was so rudely dismissed by the Angels. Well, worry not.

Monday night, Tommy John joins Tim McCarver to work the Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland A's telecast for ABC, airing at 6 p.m. (a one-hour tape-delay) over Channels 7, 3 and 42 (and at 6:30 p.m. on Channel 10).

This is John's debut as a network sports commentator and obviously a tryout for future assignments behind the mike. But the 42-year-old pitcher with matinee-idol good looks and pleasing voice doesn't want to agree with that assessment just yet.

"I think I'll still be playing baseball by the first of the month," John said on the phone from his Garden Grove home. "I'll sign with one of the five or six clubs interested in me. It's just a case of which offer will be the best situation for me.

"But when ABC called and asked if I'd be interested in doing this game, I just thought it's a great opportunity to get your feet wet, to see if you like it and are good at doing it. I'm knowledgeable . . . you don't play this game for 23 years and not pick up some knowledge about it. So, I'm looking forward to it. I think I'll like it."

A mike is no strange instrument to John. On the way to his 257 wins pitching for the Indians, White Sox, Dodgers, Yankees and Angels, he's "starred" in many pre-and-post-game interviews. John also worked as a KTLA commentator for a Dodger-Angel city series.

When he was a youth in Terre Haute, Ind., John used to fall asleep listening to Harry Carey working Cardinal games. But Carey inspired him and later on John did the color commentary for a couple of seasons of Indiana State University basketball game broadcasts.

"I'm not at a loss for words," John said, whenever a mike's shoved in front of his face. He's just being himself when he talks. "What you hear is what you get," he said with a laugh.

It will be a reunion of sorts Monday at the Oakland Coliseum for John and Tim McCarver. John pitched against him in 1977 when McCarver was still catching for the Phillies.

"He's the kind of guy that's loose enough that will make me feel comfortable," John commented, regarding McCarver's TV presence.

There's no denying Tommy John will eventually make it in sportscasting. He has that "element X" they talk about in show business. Call it charisma or whatever, some people are born with it. He looks good, sounds good. And if that threatened baseball strike takes place next month, John may embark on a sportscasting career sooner than he thinks.

ROUNDUP: Today, Baseball, Angels vs. White Sox, 10 a.m. (4) . . . Golf, LPGA Tournament, 12:30 p.m. ESPN . . . Baseball, Giants vs. Padres, 1 p.m. (4) (36) (39) . . . Bowling, PBA Seattle Open, 1:30 p.m. ESPN . . . Boxing, U.S.A. vs. World Amateurs, 3 p.m. (7) (3) (42) . . . Golf, Atlanta Classic, 3:30 p.m. (2) (8) . . . World Cup Soccer, Wales vs. Spain, 4 p.m. (34) . . . Wide World of Sports, 4:30 p.m. (7) (3) (42); 5:30 p.m. (10) . . . Baseball, Expos vs. Mets, 4:30 p.m. WOR . . . USFL Football, Arizona vs. Memphis, 5 p.m. ESPN . . . Baseball, Cubs vs. Cardinals, 5 p.m. WGN . . . Boxing, 11 p.m. (34).

SUNDAY: Auto Racing, Detroit Grand Prix, 10 a.m. (2) (8) . . . Baseball, Expos vs. Mets, 10:30 a.m. WOR . . . Golf, McDonald's Championship, 11 a.m. (39); 4 p.m. (4) . . . Baseball, Cubs vs. Cardinals, 11 a.m. WGN . . . Baseball, Braves vs. Reds, 11:15 a.m. WTBS . . . Baseball, Angels vs. White Sox, 11:30 a.m. (5) . . . USFL Football: Eastern Conference Championship, Birmingham (12-5) vs. New Jersey (11-6), 11:30 a.m. (7) (10) (42) . . . Golf, Atlanta Classic, 12:30 p.m. (2) (8).

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