An era in Baltimore sportscasting comes to an end tomorrow morning when Channel 11's Vince Bagli officially retires, closing the book on a 46-year broadcasting career.
"Nobody's called me up and said to get out of here. Maybe thewould after [tomorrow], but I'm not going to give them a chance," said Bagli.
Bagli, 68, who left the regular 6 and 11 o'clock grind two years ago to do a weekly spot on the station's Saturday morning show, said the time has come for him to relax after 31 years on the air at WBAL.
"I told [WBAL news director] Dave Roberts the other day I wanted to talk to him, and he asked me, 'Are you retiring again?' " said Bagli. "I just think it's time to give it up and not have to worry about the clock."
Said Roberts: "The fact that Vince Bagli worked here for over four decades speaks volumes of his talent, his ability and his value to the community. In a business littered with unwarranted egos, and in some cases a lot worse, he's a special guy."
Indeed, Bagli, who is known, even by competitors, as "The Dean," is one of the city's most beloved television figures, bringing to the screen an innate warmth and passion for all things Baltimore.
His style, which often saw him departing from the TelePrompTer to use the unheard-of "we" and "us" in referring to local teams, with his arms waving wildly, set Bagli apart from the rest.
"I went to Philadelphia in 1970 for an audition at a station, and they wanted me to do the things I did here; you know, the ad-libs and the loosy-goosy delivery, but I didn't want to have to leave," said Bagli. "I mean, would this thing work in another place? I don't know."
But it certainly worked here, in Bagli's hometown. It's doubtful in this age of flash-and--- highlights and perfectly coifed sportscasters that such a down-home, guy-next-door approach like Vince Bagli's could pull in the big ratings numbers, which says a lot more about our viewing habits than perhaps we want to hear.
Respect your golfing elders
NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller says he doesn't think it's an accident that the PGA Seniors Tour, which visits Bethesda's Congressional Country Club for this weekend's U.S. Senior Open, has been such a big hit with television audiences, even if its galleries are about half the size of the regular tour.
"For TV purposes, the Senior Tour is wonderful, because you turn it on, and you might get some young guy on the regular tour that you never heard of, but on the Senior Tour, you've always got a Lee Trevino or Dave Stockton or Jack Nicklaus. You've always got guys on the leader board that you know," said Miller.
Miller says the long Congressional course, which used to be the site of the Kemper Open, will favor the big hitters, such as Ray Floyd, Hale Irwin, Tom Weiskopf and Jim Dent.
"This is one of the most difficult courses in the world," he said. "The guys are going to have to pretty much hit a 4-iron onto every green. That's a long golf course, when you have to hit a 4-iron on every hole.
"I think it almost might be an error on the USGA's part that they're playing it so long. This is a very difficult course and the scoring might be atrocious."
At any rate, NBC brings the U.S. Senior Open into your homes tomorrow and Sunday at 3 p.m. (Channel 11), after three hours of Wimbledon coverage at noon each day.
Good news from ESPN and ABC, which have jointly signed Robin Roberts, one of the best in the business, to a long-term deal through the year 2001.
Roberts, the first African-American woman to do play-by-play on a network telecast when she called the Virginia Slims championship last fall, will become the new host of ABC's "Wide World of Sports," taking over for Julie Moran, who left the network for "Entertainment Tonight."
Roberts, 34, the third-leading scorer and rebounder in Southeastern Louisiana women's basketball history, will have a full plate at both networks, doing college basketball, tennis and golf, as well as a turn at ABC's NFL playoff coverage.
She also will continue her role as early weeknight anchor of ESPN's "SportsCenter" and "Sunday SportsDay."