The Baltimore Orioles find themselves on the first of two off days during Grapefruit League play. So I’m going to take this opportunity to write the 2021 version of an annual column that I pen during Spring Training every year. The Orioles have statues honoring all of their Hall of Famers at Camden Yards. Save for one…
…and that would be the great Chuck Thompson. By virtue of winning the Ford C. Frick award in 1993, he is in fact a Hall of Famer. And I know that for the most part, he needs no introduction.
Thompson worked Orioles’ games primarily on the radio (but at times on television) from 1962-1982, and remained on the television side until 1987 when he retired. He came out of retirement to work part-time on Orioles’ radio in 1991 until 2000, when his eyesight became too poor for him to continue. Everyone of course knows Thompson’s two big catchphrases, ain’t the beer cold, and Go to war, Ms. Agnes!
He was Baltimore’s version of Vin Scully. Every town had one in a sense, and he was Baltimore’s (despite working Washington Senators’ games for awhile prior to joining the O’s, and despite the national work that he did as well). Philadelphia had Harry Kalas, New York (Yankees) had Mel Allen, Los Angeles (Dodgers) had Vin Scully, and Baltimore had Chuck Thompson.
Speaking for myself, I became acclimated with Thompson towards the end of his career. He called the games on television when I was a young child, but I also spent a lot of years listening to him do games on the radio when he came out of retirement. I used to play pepper in my grandmother’s back yard while listening to the games on the radio by way of Chuck Thompson on WBAL.
So like most people, his voice is a reminder of good times for me. That smooth delivery which always indicated good times and Orioles’ baseball. I can also remember being down at the Delmarva Shore and during a day game hearing Thompson’s voice echoing softly around the beach, as people would follow the games while on vacation.
And everyone reading this has their own memories of Chuck Thompson, and what he means to them. Some people may not care, for all I know. But to throngs of Orioles fans of a certain age he was the voice of summertime, and everything that represents. As I said, good times, easy times, the beach, or perhaps sitting on the porch drinking lemonade while listening to the game in the afternoon.
As I said, I write about Chuck Thompson every year during spring training. Usually on a day off, such as today. He’s an important part of the franchise’s history, and I wish that more fans perhaps too young to have experienced his work knew that. Before there was MASN, before there was listening to and watching games online, there was Chuck Thompson.
I’ve said this in previous years, but I’d love to see the Orioles put Thompson in his rightful spot with the other Hall of Famers. Perhaps not in statue form, but perhaps by dedicating the Camden Yards Press Box in his honor – the Chuck Thompson Memorial Press Box. That would give him the due he deserves, and would thus allow us to say more clearly and for all time…AIN’T THE BEER COLD?!