Orioles instructor Rick Dempsey will be doing a little moonlighting while he waits to see which way his baseball career will turn.
Dempsey has accepted a job with WBAL, which will mean doing pre-game and post-game television reports, doing a morning radio show and working as a television field reporter. He said it will not have any effect on his status with the Orioles.
"Definitely not," he said yesterday. "As a matter of fact, they are working around my baseball career. I hadn't been thinking about [broadcasting] this early, but I'm going to dabble in it because I have the time to do it."
WBAL management obviously realized what a popular figure Dempsey has become in Baltimore, where he was the front-line catcher from 1976 to 1986 and returned this spring to compete for the reserve role. He didn't win the No. 2 job, but he renewed a very affectionate relationship with the community and apparently is going to drop some roots.
Dempsey will appear on station newscasts about three times a week, WBAL general manager Phil Stolz said.
"We think the Baltimore fans will enjoy hearing what Rick has to say about baseball and other interesting things in Baltimore," Stolz said.
Stolz said Dempsey's agreement with Channel 11 is open-ended and depends in part on Dempsey's future in baseball. Stolz also said the agreement calls for Dempsey to appear on radio station WBAL-AM (1090).
Dempsey has been on the receiving end of countless interviews during his 23-year major-league career, but he said this will be the first time he will be part of a regularly scheduled show. He made his first appearance before last night's game, when WBAL sportscaster Vince Bagli introduced him as the newest member of the station's broadcast team.
In his capacity as a field reporter, he said he will get a chance to do more than just sports stories.
"We're going to be doing things to promote the ballclub, the surrounding areas and the city," he said. "It won't be entirely sports."
David Roberts, the station's news director, agreed.
"He's going to start out reporting on the lighter side of baseball," Roberts said. "He'll do reports, for example, on the fans and the businesses around the ballpark. But he might also journey out beyond the ballpark and do stories on his favorite spots in Baltimore. Rick Dempsey is synonymous with fun. And that's his mission: to report stories that are fun for our viewers."
If this has been one of Dempsey's long-range career goals, he says that it happened too soon. Dempsey, 42, still entertains thoughts of playing again or pursuing a managing job. For the moment, however, he remains in his loosely defined role as an Orioles instructor and potential emergency catcher.