Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pulling a joke on Baltimore

Hello from Seattle where I'm calling this afternoon's Mariners/Orioles game on 710 ESPN, MLB.COM, and Sirius/XM. Today's post is in honor of Baltimore.  Yes, it's a baseball post but it's not about baseball. And it's not about Roseanne.
I love when the radio plays tricks on people, or in this case, entire cities. This one was played on Baltimore and dreamed up by Hall of Fame baseball announcer and first class devious wit, Jon Miller. In 1991, when I did play-by-play for the O's, Jon was my partner. The following year I moved over to the Seattle Mariners.

The first time we played in Baltimore was mid-May – a good six or seven weeks into the new season. Jon came into our booth the first night and asked if I wouldn’t mind doing the 4th inning of play-by-play for old time’s sake on the Orioles’ radio network. I said sure.

At the appointed time I walked into the Orioles booth and Jon said, “Oh, just one thing – let’s do this as if you had never left”. I loved the idea.  A clear strength of our partnership was that we were both great at following the others leads.

So I sit down, having not been on the Orioles radio network since the previous October, and this is Jon’s introduction: “On to the 4th and here’s Ken.” I came on and said, “Thanks, Jon” and just launched into the play-by-play.

I read the Esskay out-of-town scoreboard as I always did, talked about the Oriole pitcher on the mound and how I’ve detected subtle improvements over his last three outings. I read a promo for an upcoming homestand and was really looking forward to a certain concert scheduled after one of the games. I even paused for station identification on the “Baltimore Orioles Radio Network”. It was all very casual and matter-of-fact.

When the next inning began I said, “Now to the 5th and here again is Jon.” “Okay, Ken”, he said and turned his attention back to the game. And then never mentioned it again.

Apparently the station got a shitload of calls from confused fans. Was I still part of the Orioles broadcast team? Didn’t I leave? Had I been on all this time and they just didn’t notice? Was this the Twilight Zone?

Thanks to Jon for cooking it up and letting me participate in the joke. Wish he were around when David Isaacs and I were killing ourselves trying to come up with those damn pranks for the CHEERS “Bar Wars” episodes.

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