Hall-of-Fame Voice

July 31, 1993

Thousands of Marylanders have grown up thinking that the sound of Chuck Thompson's voice is as much a part of a radio's apparatus as the volume switch or the channel selector.

To so many of those people, that voice is the sound of summer, just as Old Bay provides the flavor of the season. Thanks to portable radios, we've listened on the road, in backyards and even surfside as that voice limned the mechanical perfection of a Jim Palmer delivery, the booming arc of an Eddie Murray homer, the graceful scoop and toss of a Cal Ripken or Brooks Robinson assist.

Happily, too, we had the bonus for decades of Chuck Thompson in winter, describing the glories of great Baltimore Colt teams, painting the pictures in our minds of John Unitas spirals, Ray Berry tip-toe grabs on the sideline, Bert Jones bombs.

During his 44 years in Baltimore, Mr. Thompson has also done a lot of TV work, but that medium doesn't challenge the good play-by-play man the way radio does. If a radio game is the broadcaster's blank canvas, then a telecast is paint-by-numbers stuff. And while Mr. Thompson might not have been as flashy as other artists of the broadcast booth, his smooth tenor, warm manner and attention to detail have made him one of the most well-liked and respected members of his profession.

Accordingly, and quite appropriately, Chuck Thompson is being inducted this weekend into the baseball Hall of Fame as the 17th winner of the Ford C. Frick Award for excellence in broadcasting.

This worthy and overdue honor only validates what Marylanders have known for years: Chuck Thompson has always been Hall-of-Fame material. Their admiration and affection for the man was best expressed on the final weekend of Oriole baseball at Memorial Stadium in 1991, when he was introduced to the full house and received a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. It was the kind of tribute usually reserved for the most beloved of veteran athletes.

As his one-time TV broadcasting partner Brooks Robinson points out, Chuck Thompson had opportunities over the years to escape Baltimore and ply his trade for the networks. But he knew he had a good thing going here, covering the exploits of mighty Oriole and Colt teams in the Land of Pleasant Living. Which, we would add, was made all the more pleasant by the sound of that voice coming through our radios and TVs.

Chuck Thompson is going to Cooperstown. Ain't the beer cold.

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