The phrases, "Ain't the beer cold?" and "Go to war, Miss Agnes," will return to the Baltimore airwaves next season.
Chuck Thompson is back.
Thompson's agent, Ron Shapiro, and WBAL-AM station manager Jeff Beauchamp yesterday agreed on terms that will send the veteran baseball and football announcer back into the radio booth for 81 games next season.
Thompson will work the games that lead Orioles announcer Jon Miller cannot, because of Miller's commitments to WMAR and ESPN telecasts. Miller and Thompson will be joined by the yet-to-be-hired replacement for Joe Angel, who left after the season to take a similar post with the New York Yankees.
Though Thompson's on-air presence will be limited to just three innings per game, Beauchamp said his reputation and familiarity with area listeners were vital to WBAL.
"Chuck is destined to be in the Hall of Fame with people like Vin Scully, Ernie Harwell and Jack Buck," said Beauchamp. "He certainly is of that quality. We're lucky to have him."
Indeed, a substantial part of the negotiations between Thompson, Shapiro and Beauchamp involved reducing Thompson's reluctance to travel with the team.
Thompson, 69, had been the voice of the Orioles and Colts for many years. He retired from the Orioles' television booth three years ago because the schedule was too taxing.
However, Beauchamp said they were able to convince him to take the post -- on the condition that it be for only one year, to alleviate Thompson's concerns that if he worked past age 69, he would jeopardize his Social Security benefits.
In addition, Beauchamp said Thompson's wife, Betty, will accompany him on certain trips.
Although Orioles radio listeners will have to adjust to hearing three different voices, including a brand-new announcer, during the same series, Beauchamp said the familiar sounds of Miller and Thompson will ease the awkwardness.
"We had that discussion among ourselves and we came to the agreement that Jon Miller and Chuck Thompson are so familiar to Orioles listeners that on any given night, fans know that someone familiar will be with them," said Beauchamp.
Thompson said fans may not even notice the difference. "I don't know that they [listeners] attach that much importance to who's broadcasting the games," said Thompson. "I think the listener knows what the problem is, if he turns in to hear Jon and he's not there. They know that if Jon's not there, then he's on television."
On the subject of Angel's replacement, Beauchamp said that the station had received more than 50 audition tapes and that he spent yesterday critiquing those efforts. Beauchamp would not name any applicants but said they include people who have done major-league and Triple A broadcasts, as well as those who have done play-by-play in other sports and those without any experience.
He said the station could hire a new Orioles broadcaster anywhere from shortly after Thanksgiving to the end of the year.