Ch. 2 strikes out from on-deck circle

October 07, 1991|By Phil Jackman

If Sally and Stan are "Friends you can turn to," Bunky, best you should never encounter any enemies. That pretty much sums up the pap those grizzled news people at Channel 2 dispensed yesterday prior to baseball's departing 33rd Street for downtown and the park with the lonnnnnng name.

Still, in a scene reminiscent of numerous "Oriole Magic" comebacks over the years, television viewers ended up with a fitting keepsake, as Channel 2 cameras just watched and allowed the "Field of Dreams" theme to wash over venerable Memorial Stadium as 100 Orioles took a last romp on their field of accomplishment.

In the context of a contest, conducted during the past week to see which of the local television stations could provide the most fitting eulogy for the passage of Memorial Stadium baseball, there was a clear-cut winner: Maryland Public Television.

So you missed it! Chances are channels 22 and 67 will repeat "Baseball, the Birds on 33rd." They certainly will if they expect those contributions to keep coming.

It wasn't as if the final weekend and game sneaked up on anyone; it just seemed that way for the big guys in town, channels 2, 11 and 13.

Meanwhile, the series of MPT shows Saturday evening went miles past one sportscaster looking at another and asking, "What's your favorite memory?"

At least one of the stations could have made an attempt to delve into the history of the uncomely pile of bricks in Waverly rather than simply saying Baltimore has a rich tradition in the Grand Old Game.

Any shortcomings could have been reduced dramatically before the 2 o'clock ballgame had Channel 2 followed up a rebroadcast of "Magic Moments at Memorial Stadium" at noon with a solid effort in its hour-long "Orioles on Deck."

Instead, we got co-anchors Sally Thorner and Stan Stovall sitting there bundled up in Orioles paraphernalia giggling their way through a "Six O'Clock News" on remote. It appeared we were in big trouble when Sally opened with, "This is the last Memorial Day."

Of course, Horace and Rudy were down by the batting cage, Tony and Andy drew the parking lot assignment, Beverly was along the third base line, Mary Beth at the backstop and Norm everywhere gazing up at the sky. Every once in a while and after much audio difficulty, sports guys Keith or Jack would get a minute or two to kibitz with someone involved with baseball. Surprise!

In lieu of something any more substantial than "Hello, how are you?" interviews with such as commissioner Fay Vincent, Detroit broadcaster Ernie Harwell and former Orioles pitcher Dave McNally, Sally teasingly asked Stan, "Did you know Frank Robinson was the only player to ever hit a ball out of the ballpark?" Stan's snappy ad-lib was, "I didn't know that."

You get the idea. After a while, those tuned in had to view yet another Stephen L. Miles "let's talk about it" commercial as an oasis.

Come 2 o'clock, however, the proceedings took a turn for the better as the regular baseball announcers -- Jon Miller, Jim Palmer and Brooks Robinson -- took over.

Elsewhere, Channel 13's effort Saturday evening was entitled "Diamonds Aren't Forever" and its best stuff involved the Colts. Channel 11's half-hour at noon Sunday went by the name "Memories from 33rd Street," and it was marked by an exceptional (if schmaltzy) tribute to "the old girl" by Gerry Sandusky.

Play commences at the new digs six months from yesterday, April 6, 1992, then it's a wait until the anniversary celebrations begin. No one should be taken by surprise, least of all the stations carrying the games.

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