- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2000

Chuck Thompson still unsure whether the eyes really have it

There still is no indication when or if Hall of Fame broadcaster Chuck Thompson will be able to resume part-time play-by-play radio work for the Baltimore Orioles.
Thompson, a local legend who has described Orioles games since the 1950s, has been unable to do play-by-play this season because of an eye disease called macular degeneration that prevents him from seeing plays in their entirety. But he was treated with an experimental drug in Florida two months ago and thinks he sees literally some improvement.
"The drug seems to be doing something to the eyes," said Thompson, who has done color on several games over WBAL-AM and the Orioles' network. "Apparently, the leakage isn't there any longer, and I can distinguish colors fine now. But maybe I'm just grasping at straws."
Thompson, 78, will return to the Wilner Clinic at Johns Hopkins for perhaps a definitive once-over late this month. And if he can resume some play-by-play work, all Orioles fans might be tempted to chirp his old battle cry, "Ain't the beer cold?"

Eddie Crane makes it

The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame got around to inducting Eddie Crane this month, and a sizable delegation was on hand at the Holiday Inn Olde Towne in Portsmouth to cheer for the longtime sports editor of the Alexandria Gazette and high school sports editor of the Washington Star, who died of cancer in 1998.
As Crane's widow, Dee, looked on, their son John accepted a plaque from Tidewater sportscaster Bruce Rader, one of dozens of media types (including me) who got their journalistic starts under his leadership. The audience included Tim Kurkjian of ESPN; Brian Manion of NBC in Washington; Jim Ducibella of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot; Mary Lou Forbes, Commentary pages editor of The Washington Times; and Steve Guback, longtime sportswriter for the Star.
As always in such circumstances, the induction would have been much more enjoyable if Eddie had been there to accept it in person. But as they called his name, I could swear I heard him yelping, in his distinctive Southern accent, "Dick Hellah did yo' mama have any children that lived?"

Yogi at 75

If you can believe it, the noted linguist Lawrence Peter Berra turned 75 last week. And what better way to celebrate than with a Yogi-ism:
"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."
OK, so it's not an all-timer, so what?
Part of Yogi's day was spent christening a New York Waterway ferry named for the Hall of Famer. Lately, one supposes, the pier has been so crowded that nobody goes there anymore. And we can only hope that the Yog thanked everybody who made this day necessary.
Presumably, christening ships was new to Berra, but we assume that various dignitaries were on hand to learn him all their experience.
The 149-passenger ferry joins the Frank Sinatra as the second high-speed catamaran ferry to ply the Hudson River between Hoboken, N.J., and Manhattan. Berra took a short cruise on the ship's maiden voyage from Manhattan's Pier 17, the departure point for ferries to all Yankees and Mets home games.
"This is a great honor. It's a lot nicer than the boat I was on in the Navy," the former New York Yankees catcher said as he smashed a ceremonial bottle of champagne across the bow.
Happy birthday, Yogi, and may you long remain quotable.

Unnecessary Memorial

For a native Washingtonian, I bear healthy affection toward Memorial Stadium especially the oh-so-cheap Orioles tickets that were available on "Three-Buck Nights" just a few years ago. But perhaps some of us are taking this nostalgia business too far.
On Sunday, fans can tour the venerable stadium on 33rd Street and venture onto the field for $5 in other words, more than it used to cost to see a real game there. The stadium is scheduled to be demolished by the summer of 2001, at a cost of nearly $10 million, to make way for a retirement home and YMCA center.
The Orioles' 1970 World Series trophy will be on display, as will the Colts' 1971 Super Bowl trophy but not, apparently, Charm City icons Brooks Robinson and Johnny Unitas. The familiar steel lettering on the front of the stadium will be warehoused in the Babe Ruth Museum near Camden Yards until city officials figure out what to do with it.
Memorabilia, such as stadium seats, will be sold at auction in August, and I would expect the bidding to be heavy. But Sunday's sneak preview of the stadium's demise seems a bit too much.

Eminently quotable

New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, on the record number of runs and homers this season: "It's arena baseball… . It's not baseball anymore. It's entertainment." …
Arizona Diamondbacks left-hander Randy Johnson, on why he still scowls on the mound despite a 7-0 record to start the season: "A lot of people think that it doesn't appear that I'm enjoying it. But really deep down, I am enjoying it. I'm having a great time now." …
Montreal Expos manager Felipe Alou, on why many chronically losing teams are lagging in home attendance: "It's hard to fool the fans today. They just have too much information the Internet, publications about star players in the minor leagues, draft choices. The fans are watching the game, but they're looking at the organization, too."

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