Charles L. "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.
well-recognized for his resonant voice, crisply descriptive style
, and signature on-air
exclamations "Go to war, Miss Agnes!"
and "Ain't the
Early life and career
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.
spending only a month at WKBN-AM in
Ohio that same year, he joined WIBG-AM in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as an on-air announcer.
His career was interrupted in
October, 1943 when he was inducted into the United States Army
. Promoted to the rank
of sergeant, he was sent to Europe aboard the Queen Mary in January, 1945 and ended up fighting in the
Battle of the Bulge.
After an honorable discharge
August, 1945, he returned to WIBG. For three years starting in
1946, he, along with Byrum Saam
Claude Haring, called all the home games of both Philadelphia
professional baseball teams, the Athletics
Career in Baltimore
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
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
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
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
1955. Two years later he joined Bob Wolff to call Washington Senators games on WWDC-AM and WTOP-TV, succeeding
Arch McDonald as a result of National
Brewing becoming the team's new sponsor.
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
beginning in 1966. During that span, the pair would describe two
American League Pennants
, six A.L.
Eastern Division titles and only one losing season. Others who
worked with Thompson included Frank
(1964–1967), Jim Karvellas (1968-–1969), John Gordon
(1970–1972) and Brooks Robinson
(1978–1987). He was also the
of the official 1966 World Series
highlight film jointly
produced by both major leagues.
his baseball-related achievements, Thompson also called Colts
football for many years, first on CBS
television in the 1950s and '60s, and then on 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
, making on-camera appearances in the first two.
also the host of WBAL-TV's Duckpins and
Dollars from 1962-1974.
Thompson's national television debut was in 1954 when he succeeded
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
. Four years later, he teamed with Chris Schenkel
to call the telecast of the
legendary 1958 Championship
. 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
history. Thompson also
called the 1959
for NBC and CBS, respectively. 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 the Peacock Network
, beginning with
the Game of
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
championship-clinching home run
to end the
1960 World Series
, for which he
was the play-by-play announcer for NBC Radio.
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
was warming in the bullpen
besides that error, Thompson just got caught up in the
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
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.
who lived in Lutherville, Maryland, at the time, died at Greater
Baltimore Medical Center on March 6, 2005, after suffering a stroke.
Catch phrase origins
"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
Thompson phased out the expression when the Vietnam War
"Ain't the beer cold!"
became the title
of Thompson's autobiography
, in which
he described the story behind the exclamation:
- Thompson, Chuck & Beard, Gordon. Ain't the Beer
Cold!. South Bend, IN: Diamond Communications, Inc.,
- ASA's Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time
- Smith, Curt. Voices of The Game. 2nd edition. New
York: Simon & Schuster, 1992.
- Bready, James H. The Home Team. 4th edition.