Memories of a Howard Cosell soliloquy on Bal-tee-more, Maryland


April 26, 1995|By DAN RODRICKS

Late in the afternoon of Oct. 2, 1979, this columnist went to Baltimore-Washington International Airport for the arrival of presidential candidate Ronald Reagan; he was coming to town for a Republican fund-raiser. Reagan arrived in a yellow Lear jet, spoke to a cluster of photographers and reporters from newspapers and TV and radio stations, then slipped into a limousine.

Reporters started to walk away, across a nearby parking lot, when suddenly into our ears came the most famous sports voice in America. "Here we are in Bal-tee-more, Maryland!" the voice rocketed over the noisy airspace of BWI. "Birthplace of the Babe! Home of the Preakness! Home of football legends AR-thur Donovan, John Unitas, Raymond Berry and John Mackey . . . Home of the Earl of Bal-tee-more, the feisty and inimitable manager of the Birds of Bal-tee-more."

Howard Cosell was in town to broadcast the Orioles-Angels playoff series. He thought we were at the airport to greet him. "A team with a grand array of pitching stars, including the virtuoso James Alvin Palmer, Mike Flanagan having a Cy Young year . . ." Cosell, with cigar and topcoat, was yelling over his chauffeur's head, trying to get the attention of departing reporters. We stopped and listened, with awe, as he continued his soliloquy. "This proud and amiable blue-collar town, home of the late, great Henry Louis Mencken, the sage of Bal-tee-more and one of the most accomplished men of arts and letters of this or any other century . . ." Ole Howard was still going as we drove away.

Son of Blade

Did you know that former Oriole Mark Belanger's kid is a singer in a rock 'n' roll band? In fact, the son of Blade sings like Sting, and one critic has applauded his band for a "dense, full sound with rich harmony and impressive leads." Rob Belanger is up front for Burst of Silence, a progressive band playing a lot of clubs, colleges and festivals throughout the Mid-Atlantic, from Hoboken to Durham. If you want to check this out, Burst of Silence plays at Bohager's Sunday afternoon to raise money for the American Red Cross and the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. Tickets are $15. Bohager's is at 515 S. Eden St.

Who's to blame now?

I seem to remember that when Susan Smith confessed to drowning her two kids in a South Carolina lake, Newt Gingrich blamed it on years of liberalism and Democratic Party rule, and just before the November election he suggested that voting Republican was a way to do something about our "sick society." Interesting. Does this mean, then, that the Oklahoma City bombing is the result of years of overheated Republican rhetoric about how the federal government is the enemy of the people? We've been getting that message for years now.

Twisted thinking

Bumper sticker seen on Calvert Street: "Is Your Church BATF Approved?" In case you don't get the message, BATF stands for Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and this is one of numerous bumper stickers related to the 1993 disaster at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. It has been suggested that the bombing in Oklahoma City was revenge for the BATF's role in the deadly siege and fire at Waco. The fanatical opponents of gun control and self-styled civil libertarians frequently use Waco as an example of the kind of "government tyranny" that only a well-armed citizenry can vanquish. To these extremists, David Koresh and his followers were merely exercising their collective right to practice religion and bear fully automatic weapons and hand grenades; some of them killed four federal agents (and eventually themselves and their own children) in defense of those rights. That's how pathetic and twisted the bumper sticker thinking is out there.

A cat suit

Serious injury, great mental anguish, unnecessary anxiety, loss of work and wages -- these are just some of the things two Owings Mills brothers say they've suffered at the paws of a black cat named Shadow. In a suit filed April 14 in Baltimore County Circuit Court, Michael and Kevin Greene say Shadow "violently and viciously" attacked them on their arms and legs last year -- Michael while he was opening mail on his front step, Kevin while he was walking nearby. It's not that the Greene brothers hate cats. They have one of their own; his name is Charlie. In fact, Charlie was attacked by Shadow, too -- in February. So allege the Greenes in seeking $115,000 in damages on each of three counts of gross negligence against Shadow's owner, a resident of the development where the brothers live. The suit says Shadow should have been leashed and that its owner should have known the cat had "violent and vicious tendencies." Michael Greene, a 30-year-old attorney, says earlier attempts to resolve the conflict were unsuccessful, thus the suit. "The whole thing is a darn shame," he says, "it shouldn't be in court." No argument there.

Pheasant in the grass

Spotted just before dusk, northbound I-295, inside the city line and right near the railroad bridge: One ring-necked pheasant, in the grass beyond the shoulder, calmly poking about despite the roar of traffic.

This Just In appears each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Telephone calls are received at 332-6166. Letters can be addressed to The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.

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