Harwell, Thompson, Miller has nice ring, but so would cash registers to pay them

Phil Jackman

October 11, 1991|By Phil Jackman

The TV repairman: Don't get your hopes up too high that there's going to be a glorious uniting of past and present and WBAL Radio is going to end up with a super announcing cast of Jon Miller, Chuck Thompson and Ernie Harwell. They're just too expensive unless, of course, someone volunteers to do a lot of pro bono work.

As you might imagine, and even with radio and Channel 2 splitting the tab, Miller drags down big bucks and, with a combined 80 years in the business, Chuck and Ernie aren't reliant on Social Security checks, either.

Remarks by Ken Levine as he hit the trail after resigning his seat in the radio booth indicate he concludes his voice was his biggest drawback. To be sure, it didn't help but honest, Ken, your content sent more than a few listeners off screaming into the night.

Graciously, WBAL station manager Jeff Beauchamp says Levine could have retained his job, but probably stipulations were that he pay his own expenses and carry Miller around on his back.

* The biggie college football game tomorrow has Penn State visiting Miami (ABC, noon) and as Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno says, "If I had my druthers I wouldn't play a 12 o'clock game in Florida the second week of October. Forgetting the weather, I'm aware how tough it is playing in the Orange Bowl. We got beat down there in '81 when we had a fine team [ranked No. 1 at the time]."

The Hurricanes are favored by 8 1/2 and most feel it should be more. Just the spot that usually brings out the best in the lads in the black hightops.

Going against this one, locally (Ch. 45), is Maryland visiting Georgia Tech . . . N(D)BC has Notre Dame playing Pitt (1:30 p.m.) before baseball grabs the spotlight for nine hours with the Nationals at 3 p.m. and the Americans at 8:30.

* Remember the question proposed by Hollywood-based promoter David Krieff: "Will $1 million entice Jimmy Connors and Monica Seles to take up positions across the net in a proposed 'Battle of the Sexes' match?" The answer is no.

"The guy got a little ahead of himself. It's not going to happen," said Connors, who classified his position as that of a loser no matter what the outcome of the match might have been.

The idea of pitting Seles and her three 1991 Grand Slam titles against Connors, who is back at the top of his game at age 39, is an offspring of Jimbo's romp through the tennis world in 1974 and the original "Battle of the Sexes," pitting Billie Jean King against Bobby Riggs.

"I was coming off the court at the Open after having won the Australian, Wimbledon and at Forest Hills and, as I headed for the press conference, [manager] Bill Riordan said to me, 'The only guy you haven't beaten this year is Rod Laver.' Go in there and say, 'Get me Laver!'

"I did, it led to a lot of questions and interest and before long it was set up with CBS. I guess it started out as a one-shot deal. But we decided if I won it would continue; other wise, it was dead. That put a lot of pressure on me and that first match turned out to be one of the most exciting days of my life.

"Actually, it was a boxing crowd at this little smoke-filled arena they had set up in back of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The crowd was hollering and they were right on top of us. Usually, when you win something, you don't have time to savor it because you're on your way. I had some time off after that day and I really enjoyed that one."

Connors lost to John Newcombe in the Australian final in 1975, so that set up the second falsely named winner-take-all confrontation. Next came Manuel Orantes, who had beaten Jimbo on Open clay. Then Ilie Nastase. Connors zapped all challengers, but the series died a quick death when it was discovered the stakes weren't winner-take-all after all, although anyone cared.

* Mike Gesker is a writer-producer-director out of a job. His resume includes a terrific piece of work you might have seen on Maryland Public Television last weekend, "Baseball: The Birds on 33rd." It was far and away the best TV show covering the end of baseball at Memorial Stadium and, as a reward, Mike was told his services no longer were required at MPT. "After 17 years," he said, "it came as a shock." No word yet on when the show will run again.

* It was about a minute into the opening game of the American League playoffs the other night when CBS play-by-play man Dick Stockton said, "And [Minnesota manager] Tom Kelly is trying to get back to the World Series this year." Oh, really? Immediately, the radio account of Jim Hunter and Johnny Bench was substituted.

Stockton, it seems, never talks baseball, but depends instead on his scorecard and the statistical sheets and publicity releases provided.

* Time to gather around 680 (WCBM) again, gang, as "Pigskins and Point Spreads" returns (Saturdays (8-10 p.m.) with Art Sinclair and Swami at the mikes. Sinclair, incidentally, is back doing morning sports (5-9) at the station.

* BOO: CBS has a billion-dollar deal with baseball and it starts off postseason play with, "The Network of the 1992 Winter Olympics presents the championship series." . . . Boxing shoots itself in the foot when prospective fans see horrendous decisions like the one veteran Livingstone Bramble got the other night in a USA Network bout against up-and-coming Oba Carr. The kid won three rounds, tops.

* The "900 East 33rd Street" show on WBAL Radio was a keeper the station should make available to the public. The guys doing the yeomen work behind Dan Rodricks' words included Mike Welbrock, Aaron Harris and Mike Gianini.

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