- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2005

The Washington Nationals filled out their primary TV broadcasting crew yesterday by hiring Ron Darling, a 13-year big league pitcher and former broadcaster for ESPN, Fox Sports Net and College Sports Television, as game analyst.

Darling, 44, joins former Baltimore Orioles and Washington Bullets play-by-play man Mel Proctor. The pair will debut today on WDCA-TV (Channel 20) for the Nationals’ season opener in Philadelphia. The hires were made by Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), the new regional network controlled by the Orioles that will show both clubs, with input from Nationals president Tony Tavares.

Darling, after a number of freelance and guest broadcasting slots, will have his first full-time job in the business. Like Proctor, Darling also has several acting credits on his resume, including appearances in “Mr. 3000” and “The Day After Tomorrow.”

“We’re very excited about having both Mel and Ron on our team. They’re both very solid pros,” said Bob Whitelaw, a MASN executive. “It helped tremendously that Tony and the Nationals had already had conversations with both of them and were able to advance the recruitment process.”

Darling is best known as one of the pitching cornerstones of the 1986 New York Mets club that won the World Series in epic fashion over Boston. Darling went 15-6 with a 2.81 ERA, highlighting a 136-116 career record.

“To be given the opportunity to be the first-ever TV analyst for the Washington Nationals is incredible,” Darling said. “I never could have imagined that my full-time return to baseball would be a part of baseball’s return to Washington.”

Whitelaw said the frenetic preparations for today’s telecast from Citizens Bank Park are essentially done, with the last steps including the arrival of Proctor and Darling to Philadelphia. Darling was flying yesterday from the West Coast, while Proctor was in Atlanta working one of his final games as Los Angeles Clippers radio play-by-play announcer.

“We just need to get Ron and Mel in town, and I’ll feel much better,” Whitelaw said.

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