On stage at Christopher's: It's Rockin' Rick Dempsey!

August 08, 1991|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Evening Sun Staff

No one will ever confuse what happened at Christopher's early this morning with Elvis' landmark comeback television concert in the early '70s, or Vladimir Horowitz's triumphant return to Moscow.

But Rick Dempsey finally came home to Cockeysville.

It had been about five or six years since The Demper, Baltimore's favorite career .236 catcher, had stood atop the stage beltin' out the oldies in his unpretentious way.

But after watching his new team, the Milwaukee Brewers, beat the Orioles 4-2 at Memorial Stadium, Dempsey brought some of his teammates along to the packed club on York and Padonia Roads for a little down-and-dirty singin' and swingin'.

"I had a good time," Dempsey said after his 25-minute set. "That's all that matters."

This story begins in late April, when Dempsey, who made the Brewers this year after a season in Cleveland and three with the Los Angeles Dodgers, got a call from his old buddy, Walter Adranovic, the general manager of Christopher's.

Adranovic wanted to know if Dempsey, who spent 11 seasons as the Orioles' catcher, would be interested in singing at the club as part of a salute to the man who batted .385 in the 1983 World Series, earning him Most Valuable Player honors for the series.

The two made plans for Milwaukee's four-game return trip this week, and the club quickly billed last night's $1 drink night as "Salute to Rick Dempsey Night."

Adranovic was surprised to find that Dempsey, who once entertained Memorial Stadium fans during a rain delay by stuffing some padding under his jersey and re-enacting Babe Ruth's legendary "called" home run, had become nervous.

"He called me at 2 a.m. [Wednesday] to see if he could practice," said Adranovic, who arranged a session with Dempsey's backup group, Tiffany. "I mean, he's a guy that's always on national television, but he gets nervous about singing?"

Plus, it wasn't as if he hadn't done it before. In fact, Adranovicsaid, Dempsey had once managed to talk New York Yankees pitchers Ron Guidry and Dave Righetti to play the drums and bass, respectively, during one of his early shows.

Last night, Dempsey arrived before midnight and kept the crowd of about 500 waiting for over an hour. Finally, he climbed the stage for his four-song set just before 1 a.m., with an apology for the Brewers' victory, but the observation that Baltimore is "the best city in the American League, with the greatest looking girls."

Dempsey, who went with the low-key white shirt and jeans as a fashion statement, waded into "Hurts So Good," then warbled an off-key "Great Balls of Fire."

Then, with his collar turned up for effect, he launched into his greatest hit, a remake of Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll," which made the rotation on the stadium's Diamond Vision video board for a time, quipping that if he had the female drummer's wrists, "I could hit .250."

After noting that "an old guy's got to sing the old songs," Dempsey, 41, closed his set with "Johnny B. Goode," brushing his hair back like a '50s greaser.

The crowd wanted more, so Dempsey gave a literal encore, coming back with another chorus of "Old Time Rock and Roll," substituting "Oriole," at the end of the line, and remarking that he "reminisces about the days of old in '83."

And then, 20 minutes after it had begun, the Rick Dempsey Across Charm City tour was over, as our reluctant rocker wistfully said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I love you. I always will. I'll see you at the ballpark again sometime."

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