Not too many public address announcers have been honored with museum exhibits commemorating their careers. Then again, not too many were as revered as Rex Barney, the genial, longtime stadium voice of the Orioles, who died in August.
Tomorrow, on what would have been Barney's 73rd birthday, the Babe Ruth Museum unveils its new tribute to the announcer: an exhibit that displays his microphone, binoculars and scorebook at a desk facing a huge, panoramic photo of Camden Yards, the same dazzling view Barney once enjoyed from his seat in the press box.
A photo montage and five-minute videotape display highlights from his 27 years as stadium announcer, years when he entertained Orioles fans with his trademark sayings of: "Thank yewwww!" and "Give that fan a contract!"
There are also a number of photos and clips from his days as a hard-throwing, but often wild, pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1940s.
According to Joe Garagiola, the former broadcaster and Yankee catcher, Barney's fastball popped into the catcher's mitt with such ferocity that: "It sounded like stacking two-by-fours by the lumberyard."
Barney fans will also want to see a June 1949 Sports Illustrated cover featuring the tall right-hander with the caption: "Can a wild pitcher win 20 games for the Dodgers?"
"We're thrilled with this exhibit," said Mike Gibbons, the museum's executive director.
Gibbons got to know Barney well, traveling often with him to museum-related activities.
"When Rex and I would go on the road together, he'd always say: 'Why don't we stop by a hospital?' He wanted to go visit the kids. He was great with kids, and to me, that's a wonderful link to Babe Ruth."
Gibbons said that it was former Orioles radio announcer Jon Miller, now broadcasting for the San Francisco Giants, who provided the impetus for the new exhibit.
"Jon called me from San Francisco the day after Rex died and said: 'Is the museum going to do something?' And he provided a very generous donation to help us with this exhibit."
The exhibit will be a permanent fixture at the Babe Ruth Museum, and is scheduled to be transferred to Camden Station when the museum moves there in 1999.
Pub Date: 12/18/97