Charles Lloyd "Chuck" Thompson (June 10, 1921 – March 6, 2005) was an American sportscaster best known for his broadcasts of Major League Baseball's Baltimore Orioles and the National Football League's Baltimore Colts. He was well-recognized for his resonant voice, crisply descriptive style of play-by-play, and signature on-air exclamations "Go to war, Miss Agnes!" and "Ain't the beer cold!"
Thompson in 1996
Charles Lloyd Thompson
June 10, 1921
|Died||March 6, 2005 (aged 83)|
|Sports commentary career|
|Team(s)||Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Colts|
|Sports||Major League Baseball, National Football League|
Thompson was born in Palmer, Massachusetts and moved with his family to Reading, Pennsylvania in 1927. He began his broadcasting career in 1939 at WRAW-AM in Reading, working there until 1942. After spending only a month at WKBN-AM in Youngstown, Ohio that same year, he joined WIBG-AM in Philadelphia as an on-air announcer. His career was interrupted in October 1943 when he was drafted into the United States Army. Promoted to the rank of sergeant, he was sent to Europe aboard the Queen Mary in January 1945 and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. After an honorable discharge in August 1945, he returned to WIBG. For three years starting in 1946, he, along with Byrum Saam and Claude Haring, called all the home games of both Philadelphia professional baseball teams, the Athletics and Phillies. He also called Temple University football during this period.
In 1949, Thompson was hired by the Gunther Brewing Company to be WITH-AM's play-by-play voice for both the International League Orioles and the Colts, at the time a member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). Despite being laid off following the 1951 IL season because the brewery felt no need for a salaried announcer, he joined WITH in order for him to continue doing the broadcasts.
When the American League's St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore, Maryland and were rechristened the Orioles in 1954, his previous connections with Gunther prevented him from becoming a broadcaster for the franchise. The National Brewing Company had purchased the team's broadcast rights and hired Ernie Harwell as the lead voice, but still wanted Thompson to be part of the coverage. He agreed to work with Harwell on Orioles broadcasts on WCBM-AM and WMAR-TV in 1955. Two years later he joined Bob Wolff to call Washington Senators games on WWDC and WTOP-TV, succeeding Arch McDonald as a result of National Brewing becoming the team's new sponsor.
Thompson returned to broadcast Orioles games on both radio and television (WBAL-AM and WJZ-TV from 1962–1978, WFBR-AM from 1979–1982, and WMAR-TV from 1979–1987), and would continue to do so until his first retirement after the 1987 season. The prime of his career was the seventeen years he shared the broadcast booth with Bill O'Donnell, beginning in 1966. During that span, the pair would describe two World Series Championships, five American League Pennants, six A.L. Eastern Division titles and only one losing season. Others who worked with Thompson on Orioles broadcasts included Frank Messer (1964–1967), Jim Karvellas (1968–1969), John Gordon (1970–1972), Brooks Robinson (1978–1987), and Tom Marr (1979–1982). Thompson was also the narrator of the official 1966 World Series highlight film jointly produced by both major leagues.
Besides his baseball-related achievements, Thompson also called Colts football for many years, first on CBS television in the 1950s and '60s, and then alongside Vince Bagli on WCBM Radio from 1973 until the team's relocation to Indianapolis in 1984. From 1964–1969 he narrated the Colts' season review films produced by NFL Films, making on-camera appearances in the first two. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association named Thompson as Maryland Sportscaster of the Year for eight consecutive years from 1959 to 1966.
Thompson's national television debut was in 1954 when he succeeded Ray Scott as the voice of the NFL's Saturday night Game of the Week on the DuMont Television Network, as well as that year's NFL Championship Game. Four years later, he teamed with Chris Schenkel to call the telecast of the legendary 1958 Championship Game on NBC. The announcers flipped a coin to determine play-by-play assignments for the two halves. Schenkel won the toss and chose the second half. Thompson ended up broadcasting the first-ever sudden-victory overtime in professional football history. Thompson also called the 1959 and 1964 Championship Games for NBC and CBS, respectively, and regular-season NFL games for the Mutual radio network. In 1988, he was among several veteran announcers who called some September NFL telecasts for NBC while many of the network's regular broadcasters were working that year's Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
Thompson also did baseball work for NBC, beginning with the Game of the Week in 1959 and 1960. He, along with Curt Gowdy, covered the Memorial Stadium legs of the World Series in 1966, 1970 and 1971, and conducted the victorious post-Series clubhouse interviews in 1966 and 1970.
He is particularly remembered for his flawed but endearing call of Bill Mazeroski's championship-clinching home run to end the 1960 World Series, for which he was the play-by-play announcer for NBC Radio.(Audio) This event was replayed in full on an MLB radio special some years ago, during one of the players' strikes. The pitcher was actually Ralph Terry; Art Ditmar was warming up in the bullpen, and besides that error, Thompson just got caught up in the moment:
Well, a little while ago, when we mentioned that this one, in typical fashion, was going right to the wire, little did we know…Art Ditmar throws—here's a swing and a high fly ball going deep to left, this may do it!…Back to the wall goes Berra, it is…over the fence, home run, the Pirates win!…(long pause for crowd noise)…Ladies and gentlemen, Mazeroski has hit a one-nothing pitch over the left field fence at Forbes Field to win the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of ten to nothing!…Once again, that final score…The Pittsburgh Pirates, the 1960 world champions, defeat the New York Yankees. The Pirates ten, and the Yankees NINE!... and Forbes Field... is an insane asylum!
In 1985, Thompson's Ditmar-Terry flub became a commercial hit, featured as an audio-over in a nostalgia-immersed Budweiser TV ad during that year's World Series. A libel lawsuit subsequently filed by Ditmar against Anheuser-Busch and its advertising agency for the commercial was ultimately rejected by a United States District Court.
Thompson came out of retirement in 1991 to work part-time on Orioles games for WBAL-AM when Jon Miller was away broadcasting ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. Failing eyesight caused by macular degeneration forced him to retire for good in 2000. He received the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in 1993. In January 2009, the American Sportscasters Association ranked Thompson 34th on its list of Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time.
"Go to war, Miss Agnes!" was picked up from a golfing friend who never swore and whose putting failed to improve even after reading a book about it. Thompson explained the details in Curt Smith's Voices of the Game:
He was a great guy, very proper, and like any golfer, he had some real frustrations. But instead of cussing, he'd come up with the phrase, 'Go to war, Miss Agnes!' I didn't know what it meant, but don't feel bad – he may not have known. What I did know was that it sounded so funny. I picked it up and used it to emphasize something big and exciting on the ball field, and it just caught on – with listeners, it snowballed.
"Ain't the beer cold!" became the title of Thompson's autobiography, in which he described the story behind the exclamation:
For years in my game broadcasts I had used the expression, 'Ain't the beer cold!' when things were going especially well for the home team. I got that phrase from Bob Robertson, a spotter who worked with me on Baltimore Colts football games (that were sponsored by the makers of National Beer). Eventually, I received lots of mail from people in the Carolinas, the area sometimes referred to as the Bible Belt. The listeners felt they shouldn't have to put up with my ad libs about beer with all the beer advertisements they were already exposed to, and I thought they had a legitimate beef. So, I stopped using the line sometime in the 1970s.
The 1955 Preakness Stakes was the 80th Preakness Stakes overall and it was held on May 28, 1955 at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Nashua, ridden by Eddie Arcaro and trained by James Fitzsimmons won the race outrunning Saratoga who finished second. Traffic Judge, who was trained by Woody Stephens finished third.1963 Pro Bowl
The 1963 Pro Bowl was the NFL's thirteenth annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1962 season. The game was played on January 13, 1963, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California in front of 61,374 fans. The Eastern Conference was coached by Allie Sherman of the New York Giants and the West by Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers.Cleveland Browns fullback Jim Brown set a Pro Bowl record, carrying for 141 yards, breaking his own record of 120 set the previous year; he was named the "Back of the Game." "Big Daddy" Gene Lipscomb of the Pittsburgh Steelers was awarded "Lineman of the Game" honors; he had perhaps the finest day of any defender in the history of the Pro Bowl, blocking two field goals and being responsible for hits that led to six West fumbles.1966 World Series
The 1966 World Series matched the American League (AL) champion Baltimore Orioles against the defending World Series champion and National League (NL) champion Los Angeles Dodgers, with the Orioles sweeping the Series in four games to capture their first championship in franchise history. It was also the last World Series played before Major League Baseball (MLB) introduced the Commissioner's Trophy the following year. The Dodgers suffered record low scoring, accumulating just two runs over the course of the series, the lowest number of runs ever scored by any one team in the history of the World Series.
This World Series marked the end of the Dodgers dynasty of frequent postseason appearances stretching back to 1947. Conversely, it marked the beginning of the Orioles dynasty of frequent postseason appearances that continued until 1983.1995 World Series of Poker
The 1995 World Series of Poker (WSOP) was a series of poker tournaments held at Binion's Horseshoe.2005 in radio
The year 2005 in radio involved some significant events.Art Ditmar
Arthur John Ditmar (born April 3, 1929) is a former starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Athletics (Philadelphia, 1954 - Kansas City, 1955–56, 1961–62) and the New York Yankees (1957–1961). He batted and threw right-handed and was listed at 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and 185 pounds (84 kg). Born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, he grew up in the Berkshire County city of Pittsfield, where he graduated from high school.A finesse control pitcher, Ditmar divided his career between the Athletics and Yankees. Ditmar won 47 games for the Yankees in a span of five years, with a career-high 15 in 1960, despite not getting to pitch on a regular basis in a rotation that included Whitey Ford, Bobby Shantz, Don Larsen and Bob Turley. In a nine-season career, Ditmar compiled a 72–77 record with 552 strikeouts and a 3.98 ERA in 1,268.0 innings.
Ditmar defeated the Yankees 8–6, when the Athletics played their last game at Shibe Park in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City. In the same game, Yankees regular catcher Yogi Berra played his only game at third base in his career, and teammate Mickey Mantle appeared at shortstop (September 26, 1954). Ditmar started and lost both Game 1 and Game 5 of the 1960 World Series for the Yankees, lasting only one-third of an inning in Game 1 and 1 and one-third inning in Game 5.
After a Budweiser television commercial of the 1980s incorporated the original radio broadcast of the 1960 World Series Game 7, with announcer Chuck Thompson incorrectly naming Ditmar instead of Ralph Terry as the pitcher off whom Bill Mazeroski hit his legendary home run, Ditmar sued Anheuser-Busch for $500,000, contending his reputation was tarnished.Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame
The following is a list of all members of the Baltimore Orioles' Hall of Fame, representing the most significant contributors to the history of the Baltimore Orioles professional baseball team. The hall of fame is on display at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland.Bill O'Donnell (sportscaster)
William "Bill" O'Donnell (June 4, 1926 – October 29, 1982) was an American sportscaster.Hampton Hawes
Hampton Barnett Hawes, Jr. (November 13, 1928 – May 22, 1977) was an American jazz pianist. He was the author of the memoir Raise Up Off Me, which won the Deems-Taylor Award for music writing in 1975.Hunt Valley Towne Centre
Hunt Valley Towne Centre, formerly Hunt Valley Mall, is an outdoor shopping mall in northern Baltimore County, Maryland with 58 stores. The development was constructed following the closure of Hunt Valley Mall (other than its anchor stores) in 2000. The anchor stores in existence today include Dick's Sporting Goods, Burlington Coat Factory and Wegmans. Wal-Mart was located at Hunt Valley mall until late October 2007, when it moved two miles south to Cockeysville, Maryland. It was replaced by Best Buy which closed in May 2012 as part of a nationwide downsizing. Near a gazebo located in the main street area of the center, there is a memorial to Chuck Thompson.List of NFL Championship Game broadcasters
The following is a list of the television networks and announcers that broadcast the National Football League Championship Game from the 1940s until the 1969 NFL season (after which the NFL merged with the American Football League). The National Football League first held a championship game in 1933, it took until 1948 before a championship game would be televised. The successor to the NFL Championship Game is the NFC Championship Game.List of NFL on CBS commentator pairings
CBS Sports began televising National Football League games in 1956. The network inherited the rights to games of most of the teams from the defunct DuMont Television Network; back then, each NFL team negotiated its own television deal. From 1956 to 1967, CBS assigned their commentating crews to one team each for the entire season. Beginning in 1968, CBS instituted a semi-merit system for their commentating crews. Following the 1993 season, there was no NFL on CBS after the network lost its half of the Sunday afternoon TV package (the National Football Conference) to the Fox Broadcasting Company. However, CBS gained the American Football Conference package from NBC beginning in 1998. The names of the play-by-play men are listed first while the color commentators are listed second; sideline reporters, when used, are listed last.List of Philadelphia Phillies broadcasters
The following is a list of Philadelphia Phillies broadcasters.List of Playoff Bowl broadcasters
The Playoff Bowl (officially, the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl) was a post-season game for third place in the NFL, played ten times following the 1960-69 seasons. It was abandoned in favor of the current playoff structure with the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The following is a list of the television networks and announcers that broadcast the Playoff Bowl during its existence.NFL on DuMont
The NFL on DuMont was an American television program that broadcast National Football League games on the now defunct DuMont Television Network. The program ran from 1951 to 1955.This Is Hampton Hawes
This Is Hampton Hawes (subtitled Vol. 2, The Trio) is an album by pianist Hampton Hawes recorded at sessions in 1955 and 1956 and released on the Contemporary label.
|AL Division Series|
|NL Division Series|
Members of the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame
"Wild Bill" Hagy Award
|J. G. Taylor Spink Award|
|Ford C. Frick Award|