Network television shows gush over Baltimore and its ballpark

April 07, 1992|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,TV Critic

Oriole Park at Camden Yards looked as good on the small screen yesterday as it does in real life.

In fact, the ballpark and Baltimore came across like a Chamber of Commerce dream in a day of pictures beamed coast to coast. They were flat-out showcased on ABC's "Good Morning America" with Charles Gibson and Spencer Christian and NBC's "Today" show with Willard Scott and Joe Garagiola broadcasting from Baltimore.

The anchormen and weathermen -- in Orioles team jackets and hats -- gushed about the ballpark.

"It's great. It's great. I tell ya it's great," Garagiola said.

"It doesn't get any better than Bal-tee-more, Maryland," Scott said.

But more important than the words were the pictures. The best of them showed the reflecting glass of Baltimore's skyline and the brick facade of the B&O warehouse visually meeting at the scoreboard to make a surprisingly eloquent statement about reverence for the past and a city looking toward the future.

It wasn't wall-to-wall postcard pictures and verbal bouquets, though. Yesterday, CBS ignored the opening of Oriole Park -- except for a feature, which was taped Friday.

CBS made its remote commitment instead to weatherman Mark McEwen in Minneapolis, where Duke played Michigan in the NCAA championship game last night. CBS telecast the game and wanted to use the show to promote it.

And as kissy-faced as NBC's coverage was, the portions were rather small. Plans for segments from Baltimore during the first half-hour were scrapped at the last minute because of what Scott called "political stuff," which turned out to be "Today" having Bill Clinton and Jerry Brown for a debate.

During the game -- which was broadcast regionally on Channel 2 -- Larry King and President Bush took guest turns at the play-by-play mike. TV made Baltimore seem like the center of the universe as only TV can.

"Charlie Gibson is in a little bit of heaven; he's in Baltimore," GMA co-host Joan Lunden said.

Gibson replied, "Where else would anyone want to be?"

And Tom Brokaw closed NBC's evening newscast by saying, "The baseball season only began yesterday but already there's a big winner: the city of Baltimore and its new stadium."

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