High marks for Miller, Thompson

ON THE AIR

July 19, 1995|By MILTON KENT

Remember those rousing living-room debates between you and your dad over the quality of the baseball you knew and loved vs. that of his era? Your old man just knew that Joe DiMaggio could hit a Jim Palmer fastball, and you were just as certain that Frank Robinson could get around on Bob Feller.

Curt Smith believes the same debate could be conducted about past and present baseball broadcasters. Smith, not surprisingly, finds the current crop lacking.

"By and large, younger broadcasters today lack, it seems to me, the identifiable style, the mannerisms, the personalities, the differences between them, the things that make them recognizable," said Smith.

"There are exceptions, and the most prominent is here in Baltimore. Jon Miller belongs among the top echelon of all-time broadcasters, as do Chuck Thompson, Bob Costas and Al Michaels. They have the instrument of their voice. They love baseball. They have a passion for it and they, too, can inject that sense of theater."

Smith has written two books on baseball announcing -- "Voices of the Game" and the current "The Storytellers," which spawned two ESPN specials on the subject. He approaches the topic with something more than your average curiosity.

As a child of the 1950s in upstate New York, Smith listened to some of the best in announcing talent, from Curt Gowdy in Boston to Jack Buck, Harry Caray and Joe Garagiola in St. Louis, with a lot of Hall of Famers in between.

"Each of those had a sense of love for baseball, but also a sense of himself. Each had an instantly identifiable style and persona that was different," said Smith, during a recent promotional tour for "The Storytellers."

"They were not automatons. They weren't cookie cutters. Too many broadcasters today are generic. They're banal and homogenous."

Lundquist makes a move

Regular readers of this space know of our affection for the work of Verne Lundquist, one of sports television's great, but underappreciated, talents.

Apparently, Turner appreciates Lundquist, since it announced yesterday that he will join the company as the play-by-play voice for TNT's NFL broadcasts this fall, replacing Gary Bender alongside analyst Pat Haden.

Lundquist, who does college basketball and golf for CBS, will add golf host duties to his resume. He will anchor TBS' coverage of the first two rounds of the PGA Championship in August, as well as continuing to call NBA games for Turner.

NFL training camp updates

"SportsNight" on WWLG (1360 AM, 8 p.m.) is featuring 15-minute-long NFL training camp updates each week night with writers from newspapers that cover the respective teams. In addition, Gary Lambrecht, who covers the CFL Stallions for this paper, will appear on the night before each game.

Finally, the station has announced that it will bring back Washington Bullets broadcasts next season. There is still no word on whether the Washington Capitals will have a local radio outlet or whether either team will be seen locally on an over-the-air TV station or if any area cable systems will add WFTY, the teams' new flagship station out of Washington.

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