O's tune in Miller for radio pact

March 01, 1994|By Ray Frager | Ray Frager,Sun Staff Writer Sun staff writer Mark Hyman contributed to this article.

Fans will hear Jon Miller announcing Orioles games again this season -- but they won't see him.

Miller has agreed to return as the team's voice for a 12th season, club and broadcast officials said yesterday, and will work 106 games on WBAL Radio. He won't call any Orioles games on local television, as he did the past three seasons.

In addition to Orioles broadcasts, Miller is returning for a fifth year as play-by-play announcer on ESPN's Sunday night baseball games.

Miller has a one-year contract with the Orioles, said his representative, Ron Shapiro. Financial details weren't revealed.

This marks the first time since Miller came to Baltimore that his contract will not match the length of the Orioles' broadcast deal. WBAL is beginning a three-year contract with the Orioles.

Miller said his contract's length had to do with the Orioles' new ownership and front office.

"I think that's what seemed optimum from our standpoint," Miller said yesterday. "They're new to me. I'm new to them.

"I'm sure they'd hate to sign me to a 10-year deal and say two years into it, 'We hate this guy.' "

Orioles owner Peter Angelos certainly doesn't sound as if he hates Miller's work. "He is considered to be one of the two best in the country, and I think he is at least as good as [the Los Angeles Dodgers' Vin] Scully," Angelos said yesterday. "Having him as the voice of the Orioles on the radio is perfect for the Orioles and for the fans."

Club counsel George Stamas said lengthy negotiations on new radio and television deals commanded a lot of the club's attention, so the Orioles weren't able to work out a multi-year agreement with Miller.

"We clearly see it coming in the future," Stamas said.

Angelos said he prefers having one announcer identified as the team's radio voice.

"That's what I wanted," Angelos said. "One identity, one spokesman on radio to the degree possible."

"We're absolutely delighted," said Jeff Beauchamp, WBAL station manager and vice president. "We have asked to have Miller exclusively, and this year the Orioles honored our request."

For the past three years, Miller called games on WBAL and Channel 2. This season, TV rights are owned by Group W, which will placegames on Home Team Sports and channels 13 and 54.

"As part of the old TV deal, the rights holder [WMAR] demanded Jon do some TV," Shapiro said. "Jon accommodated that."

Plus, because the Orioles were in the division race last year, Miller said, he ended up working additional radio broadcasts for a total of 118 games between radio and television. In 1993, he originally had been scheduled to work 81 radio games and about 25 on local TV.

Not only will his new Orioles deal be for fewer games, but he also is cutting back strictly to Sunday nights on ESPN.

"My preference has always been just to do radio," Miller said. "I told Ron [Shapiro] I just needed to cut back a little bit" to spend more time with his family.

The Orioles apparently were interested in signing Miller to an exclusive deal, but it couldn't be worked out this year, perhaps because he already has agreed to return to ESPN.

"There was some discussion as to whether we could afford Jon without ESPN in the mix," Beauchamp said.

"We actually explored leaving ESPN and just doing the Orioles or leaving the Orioles and just doing ESPN," Miller said.

However, Miller said he doesn't expect to leave the Orioles after this year's contract expires.

"Other teams call all the time as it is," he said. "If I was interested in going somewhere, I could have gone this year. I'm just not interested in going anywhere. This is our home.

"I think they want me to stay, and I want to stay, so I think that it will happen."

Hall of Fame announcer Chuck Thompson is scheduled to fill in for the 56 games that Miller misses, Beauchamp said.

Fred Manfra, in his second year with the Orioles, will work a full radio schedule.

Mel Proctor, play-by-play man on HTS for the past 10 seasons, will be the club's television voice.

Under the team's new TV contract, HTS will produce all of the Orioles' local telecasts, whether they air on HTS or channels 13 or 54.

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